Engaging Ear Training Lesson for All Ages of Guitar Students

Rethinking Scale Practice

When I was a music student at Boston’s Berklee college of music one of the brilliant and legendary guitar teachers in town was Mick Goodrick, who was an amazing guitarist and super nice guy. You may be familiar with his extraordinary and highly recommended book, The Advancing Guitarist.

The Advancing Guitarist: Highly Recommended & Enlightening

The Advancing Guitarist: Highly Recommended & Enlightening

Among the many brilliant ideas that Mick has come up with is the idea of playing scales using only one string. From the standpoint of a serious guitar student this obvious and common sense idea seems quite novel and groundbreaking because we are inculcated into the world of position playing as soon as we begin to study.  I found this approach and interesting way to break myself out of ruts but also a very valuable one when teaching beginning guitar students. I liked it so much that I wrote about it in my level I guitar book entitled Guitar Buddy, my treatment of this concept as it appears in my book is just below.

Guitar Buddy by Karl Aranjo. Ear Training Lesson

Guitar Buddy by Karl Aranjo. Ear Training Lesson

When a scale is thought of in this way the formula for the major scale is clearly evident and teaching any guitar student the major scale is very easy.  I also found this approach to be the perfect vehicle for ear training; my students take to this approach like a duck takes to water regardless of their experience, age or ability.  It’s a great way of thinking; it breaks ruts and is logical and liberating.

Ear Training Puzzles

In my approach I begin with studying common knowledge melodies such as nursery rhymes, classical themes or Christmas carols.  My first step is to present them with the drawing of the first phrase of the melody; I call this the shape of the melody -using it to give the student the general overall idea of a songs melodic motion.   Below is the printed material I use for and ear training lesson, I call this my page of puzzles which effectively serves to pique someone’s interest.

All Students Find This To Be A Fun And Thought Provoking Challenge

All Students Find This To Be A Fun And Thought Provoking Challenge

Making Students Think Is Fun For You!

Finally I told the student to complete the melody using only notes found in the major scale, many students quickly make the realization that a melody is nothing more than a mixed up scale. Finally I discussed the law of melody on law of step-wise which states that the most melodies scale tones are drawn to their step-wise neighbors. This simple ear training lesson is very enjoyable with most of my students eager to take the challenge and solve puzzles. As younger students like consistency and repetitive rituals and interesting drills and exercises, this simple ear training is another great tool for your arsenal.

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