Best method to train my ears?
I'm a returnee at about Grade 8 RCM level and don't have a teacher now. I decided to take my playing to the next level by improving my intonation.
I have all Simon Fisher's books and using his methods to improve my intonation. One of the biggest hurdles I have is that I don't have a crystal clear mental picture of a note.
When I try to hear a note before I play, it is very 'blurry', maybe 80% clear.
Is there a sure way to improve the mental clarity of a note? Should I practice singing with a piano?
"80% clear" is already better than a lot of folk!
I liked to sing scales in thirds and sixths (and seconds and fourths if you'd like). I'd play one voice on the violin and vocalize the other at the same time.
I would listen to a lot of very clear, transparent music where one can concentrate on individual notes...
January must be the season for intonation threads. Wouldn't it be wonderful if some standout professional would record scales for us to listen to? Think how many copies Hilary Hahn would sell of an album of Flesch scales. Or lower-level studies like Kayser or Mazas.
And they would make scales sound so beautiful!
I've heard a set of scale recordings for little kids that add funky drumbeats and stuff to the pure scale for a more "fun" sound. I don't know what the recording was, but the pitches were properly chosen. Perhaps someone here knows.
I think singing is fine, but it tends to improve one's voice more than one's intonation on the violin.
Bernard Chevalier has a whole bunch of Kayser, Mazas, Wohlfahrt, Tartini, Rode, and Kreutzer etudes on his Youtube channel. Didn't know who he was before stumbling upon them, but his personal website states that he is (was?) a first violin in the San Francisco Symphony.
Scott,I agree with all the advice on resonance, and not everyone with a good ear can sing in tune.. But once the basic intervals are established and "in the fingers" we often have to transpose them into sharp or flat keys, and then imagined/remembered intervals must take over.
Play with other people. I find myself listening very carefully to other instruments, as well as myself, and negotiating intonation. After a few weekly sessions, it is interesting how I found myself uncomfortable on the instrument, until I had adjusted and settled my intonation (continuing to listen, of course).
Yes, I agree, sing, sing sing - by yourself, with chords, with the radio or whatever. I also highly recommend the TUNABLE app - you can see your history and tendencies, play chords, and record yourself and listen to it in slow motion or with the tuner going. Often it's possible to hear things on playback that it's hard to get in real time. For me, I've learned that I have tendencies - like I hear c's quite high and f's low. Certain keys are fishier than others of course as well. I use open strings to tune to as well, since they are always readily available. Sometimes playing notes out of order (every other) or backwards helps refine the ear. The ear develops over a life time. There is also an interesting app called In Tune that is supposed to help train pitch to a very refined level - it's about differentiating tones, and is a fun way to work on the ear.
Thanks for all the suggestions. They are all helpful. I have some followup questions: