How good are your ears?
How good are your aural skills? Do you struggle with dictation and transcription? Can you transcribe away from an instrument?
Also, if you went to grad school, what was your experience with grad level aural skills?
I'm curious to see the responses, especially as answers differ from amateur to professional.
I was thinking today about my aural abilities and what I wished they were. I have a degree in music education and I currently teach elementary music and I have a small studio. I have a good since of pitch svc rhythm, I can figure out simple melodies pretty quickly on the violin or piano. I suck, however, at notating chord progressions. I struggled with aural skills (my only c's in college).
I'd say my aural skills are quite good. I can harmonize molodies and analyze chords and intervals with almost no error.
I never missed an interval, but in school I wasn't that great at notating chord progressions. However, when I eventually taught theory and aural skills at several colleges, I developed ways that students could become better at progression notation. It has to do with what you know about chords, and what is likely.
Most string players can likely do transcription and dictation without an instrument if they really try, at least at an interval level.
Some years ago a folk violinist I knew, who also had a very good classical music training behind him, told me that he did part-time transcription work for a major record company. This work involved listening to final studio takes of tracks by rock bands and transcribing them accurately into music notation which would be kept safely in the record company's vaults.
As a teenager I had a piano teacher who could transcribe Oscar Peterson solos in their entirety. He could play them along with he recording too. That's something to see.
I have pretty perfect pitch (meaning that I can toss a viola into a dumpster and rarely hit the sides) and did very well in dictation classes at school.
I have perfect pitch, but a lousy short-term memory.
Learning the violin has helped me with my pitch. I can usually get a melody with no problem. I'm ok with intervals, however if I'm playing blind as backup I'm not always sure what I'm playing. I just know it fits. I generally have the key within the first few measures.
I am kind of slow when it comes to four part dictation, but I can do it pretty much correctly if given enough time. I never need to be given a starting pitch. Sometimes I mix up the different augmented 6th chords, as well as very tall chords. I usually try to go by the overall shape of each chord, but my knee jerk reaction when tired or panicked is to hear all of the individual notes and piece together the chords from them, so I lose a few notes due to my working memory limitations.
I actually never had to take aural skills in either undergrad or graduate school; I tested out of it both times. So I hear and sightsing quite well but I struggle to teach these sorts of skills to my students for whom it doesn't come so naturally. It's hard to teach what was never taught to me.
Back in middle school and high school I always messed with MIDI on the computer, so ears became super precise!! Relative and Perfect Pitch used to be instant for me, but it has slowed down oger the years.
Well in my long experience of music, I have started to learn a few notes and recognize their sound (Not perfect pitch but I can hear it and play it on a whim) for example open strings and octaves of violin. Piano is a little more complicated, but I can usually play back a melody within a few times of hearing it. Genetics, I think!
My ears are just fine. It's my hearing that stinks. LOL
Mine are medium quality old cloth, well worn.
Do your ears hang low? Wobble to and fro? Can you tie em' in a knot? Can you tie em' in a bow? Do your eeeeeeeeears hang looooowwwww. lol.
I remember my music GCE "A-level" when we had to write down a four-part Bach chorale which was only played three times!
One other thing. I prefer "absolute pitch" for unaided note recognition, rather than "perfect pitch" which can be be con fused with perfect intonation.
Adrian, amen on your last comment. It is a rather frustrating misconception. Whenever I have told people that I have "perfect pitch", the next question is then something like, "So how much does it bother you when people play/sing out of tune?" or, "What is it like to have been born being always able to play in tune?" I truly cannot get it through people's heads that intonation has not been automatic for me. If I had a nickel for the number of times people thought absolute pitch was somehow equated with intonation accuracy, I'd be richer than Bill Gates.
I woudn't, as I only charge €0.02 per post.