Fun Ear Training Activities?
December 6, 2008 10:39 AM   Subscribe

Looking for tons of fun and challenging activities/drills/games for high school music theory and ear-training.

I'm looking to spice up a high-school level music theory class with some fun ear-training exercises and games.

I learned ear training by rote drilling -- this kind of stuff is fun for me, so I've never sought out more engaging exercises.

But it's a chore for my students and they're not progressing the way I'd like. Think back to your music theory classes -- what activities engaged and motivated you, and encouraged you to keep trying for more challenging levels?

I'm looking for group activities, competitive games, exercises, etc. -- preferably ones with some degree of timing / urgency (I'm thinking of theatre games like zip-zap-zop).

Topics covered: Intervals, scales, scale degrees, triads/7th chords, inversions, chord progressions, etc. Also activities for non-ear stuff -- memorization of chords, keys, etc.
posted by Alabaster to Education (3 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
This may be a little below your age/coolness level but it killed with my 7-10 year olds: I outlined a huge piano keyboard on the floor with masking tape -- 2 octaves (think Tom Hanks in "Big" size), lined 'em up at one end, and each one would have to traverse the keyboard, hopscotch-style, landing only the notes in the scale/mode I called out. Hit a wrong note and you fall in the pit and go back to the other side. With spritely teenagers you could totally do the same with arpeggios, chords in inversion, etc. You or a watchful and coordinated kid with piano skills could play the notes on a nearby keyboard as they step on them to reinforce the aural component.
posted by dr. boludo at 10:50 AM on December 6, 2008

Do they have their instruments with them? I'm imagining a game of interval style zip-zap zop: I play a P4, look across the circle at Timmy, who has to play the same interval I just played. He then picks his own interval, plays it, and looks at the next person. They have to match his interval, then pick their own and pass it. Miss one and you're out of the circle, if you want to make it competitive. I suppose you could do the same thing w/o instruments singing/solfeging.
posted by dr. boludo at 10:53 AM on December 6, 2008

Also, if your kids have the sight reading/playing skill, I find it helpful during dictation time to let a kid (say one who's already demonstrated competency at a particular level) to play the examples rather than me, on their instrument. This does two things: makes the player be very conscientious about careful sight reading (after classmates complain that the first time s/he played quarter note quarter rest, second time played half note, etc) and makes everyone's ears stretch to hear these things on instruments other than piano -- I found when I was learning that timbre made a huge difference and it was much easier for me to hear pitch on some instruments than others. Being exposed to variety from the start would have helped, I think.
posted by dr. boludo at 10:57 AM on December 6, 2008

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