Recommendation for tolerance on ear training exercise
I started doing ear training exercises on a phone app not long ago. One of the exercise is interval singing. For example, the app will play you G4 and ask you to sing back a major second up from that and the app will check you for correctness.
There are three tolerance settings with this: the easy one takes +/- 50 cents error, the middle one takes +/- 25 cents error, the hard one.... I never try.
I started with the middle setting but I was struggling. Even with the unison exercise (I sing back exactly the same note the app just played), I am not getting over 70% of the questions correct overall. Initially I thought to myself, I have next to no musical education before and only play violin for a few months, maybe I should start with the easy setting. I switch to easy setting and get 90% correct on the unison exercise. But then, I wonder if this is effectively cheating (ie if we set the tolerance very large then no one can be out of tune, but it is not helping me to get in tune).
My question is, what is the best way to approach this exercise? Should I start with a comfortable tolerance (ie easy) and work on getting the different intervals "about right"? Or should I spend time to get the unison exercise to be very precise before I work on other intervals?
Thank you very much for reading.
My first thought was that it would make sense to get good at the unison test. I think that the better you are at singing the correct tone in unison the better you will probably be in singing the other intervals correctly, because in order to sing an interval you kind of need to be "in unison" with your imagination of that interval.
The limit of pitch discernment among adult, trained, musicians is about +/- 5 cents, or about 1/20 of a half-step. When two tones are played as double-stops we can do even better by hearing the difference tones/beats/interference pattern, which is a different skill. Piano tuners and musicians from the traditional cultures of turkey, Persia, India, can do even better. +/- 50 cents is useless, might as well switch to piano. +/- 25 cents will give you notes bent in the wrong direction, will sound out of tune to the audience. The "error" of the equal-tempered piano will give intervals that vary from 2 to 10 cents off, which is tolerated by most. Your phone app. is probably calibrated to equal temperment. That major second interval that you try to sing will be either the long 9/8 frequency ratio or the short 10/9, depending on the harmonic context. For singing in tune, you might have better luck being in a choir, blending with the other singers. for playing the violin, being in an orchestra section helps. You blend, tune to the chord, and if you can't hear yourself, you are probably in tune.
Hum... to me it sounds like voice training rather than ear training. Can't answer your question, but however do wonder if your time and effort wouldn't be better spent on exercise that involves the instrument rather?
I experimented with an ear training app for a while, and found the app was much more valuable to my practice sessions (and ears, of course) with my instrument in hand. Are you ultimately hoping to learn how to sing or learning to recognize/"play back" correct/in tune notes on the violin?
I'd say do both middle and difficult.
All, thanks for the input. I am not trying to be a singer. I was told that having the ability to sing the right pitch in your head is beneficial to producing the right pitch on your instrument. I was looking for things I can work on this. The actual singing part is needed, because otherwise there is no way to check what pitch I got inside my head.
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