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About the Author:
Bruce Arnold is from Sioux Falls, South Dakota. His educational background started with 3 years of music study at the University of South Dakota; he then attended the Berklee College of Music where he received a Bachelor of Music degree in composition. During that time he also studied privately with Jerry Bergonzi and Charlie Banacos.
Mr. Arnold has taught at some of the most prestigious music schools in America, including the New England Conservatory of Music, Dartmouth College, Berklee College of Music, Princeton University and New York University. He is a performer, composer, jazz clinician and has an extensive private instruction practice.
Currently Mr. Arnold lives in New York and is performing with his own "The Bruce Arnold Trio", and "Eye Contact" with Harvie Swartz, as well as with two experimental bands, "Release the Hounds" a free improv group, and "Spooky Actions" which re-interprets the work of 20th Century classical masters.
Commonly most courses of study for relative pitch concentrate on music dictation and singing melodies. Most colleges and high schools teach this method with varying success. But there are very real pitfalls to this method; most of these courses of study prepare a student to pass an exam but don't prepare a working musician for the skills they will need on the band stand. These courses fail to explain what to be listening for, and instead encourage the use of common tricks. These in turn lead to habits which stunt the student's progress. In some ways it is better if you've never done any ear training before starting the method presented here, because you won't have had a chance to develop the bad habits incorrect instruction can lead to.
Let's us talk about some of these teaching methods and why they simply do not work in the real world.
One of the most counterproductive assignments relative pitch ear training courses assign is to "learn all your intervals".
Let's explore this assignment for a minute and how it is taught.
A teacher sits down at a piano and starts playing different intervals and asks the class to identify which interval is being played. You may ask "What's so bad about that? All music is made up of different combinations of intervals so this should help me to identify pitch, right?"
Let's look closer. Let's say you have mastered this assignment; and any interval someone plays, you know what it is instantly.
All right, great! Now you are on the band stand and the piano player is jamming along on a C major chord over and over and the bass player is playing a C note over and over. Most students with a little theory or practical experience know that playing a C chord over and over means the piece is in the key of C. Now your guitar player plays two notes which happen to be an E and a G. You instantly say "that's a minor 3rd that I hear. (The distance between E and G being 3 half steps which is commonly referred to as a minor 3rd) "All right" says the guitar player "well play it then," but now the real question has to be answered: what minor 3rd is it? If we examine the 12 pitches used in western music we find that there are 12 possible minor 3rd intervals that we could choose from. For example C to Eb, C# to E, D to F- all of these are minor 3rd intervals, and there are 12 possible minor 3rd intervals in all.
How do you know which one it is?
The answer is you don't because you have only learned what a minor 3rd sounds like and not what the two pitches E and G sound like in the key. So something is missing here. You need to know more than what an interval sounds like; you need to know what notes sound like in a key. This is the first and major difference between the ear training contained in this book and that which is commonly taught in schools.