Ear Training 101
Melodies, Intervals and Scales
Let me say at the outset that this is an excellent course. When I think of the wide range of possible "students", it has to be recognised that Gregg Fine has done an excellent job. It's also exceptional value if bought at the library members discount, which I intend to do. Because this is not a "one-off" course. The exercises are invaluable and worthy of returning to repeatedly as months and years pass.
But it may not be a course for all beginners. There is a clear indication of this in the "technical" language Gregg uses, that also expresses an expectation that you will have some comprehesion of the tempered keyboard, and of degrees and intervals of the chromatic and popular diatonic scales, and in some sections, the construction of triads and 7th chords. That is, if you want to get the most out of it. But if you are a beginner and you choose to ignore the more technical aspects and just embrace learning the different "timbres", you should find it enlightening, and worth your time as it should enrich your appreciation of modes and scales. You could return to it later when you have a little more technical understanding.
So could it be improved? Whilst it may be part of a wider curriculum programme, it is offered as a stand-alone course and for that reason alone it would benefit from placing it in some context, not just in a text introduction but in some kind of initial discovery activity, to get the student on the right "wavelength" and to "demystify" maybe even "revise" some of notions embraced by the course.
Following that idea of "discovery" activity I think it would also have benefited from a "listening list" of pieces used to illustrate the various scales and modes - just references of recorded pieces to which to listen, and why. Together with a suggestion for continued self-study listening - aided by a bit of systematic advice on how to choose pieces for listening and systematically reviewing the advice already given for determining the differences between different scales and modes.
All of that said, if you understand language like "augmented" & "diminished", and know the difference between a minor and major third then I recommend this course without reservation. I really enjoyed it, and have adopted a number of new practice routines based on Gregg's advice. I've always sung a song melody as a means of getting comfortable with a piece - before I do anything else. Now I sing in moveable solfedge and use a Korg VPT-1 vocal pitch trainer to "tune-up" my ear. And into my daily routine I've added a few minutes of practice firming up my "feeling" for different intervals using different instruments; piano, guitar, feadóg.
I'm 73 this year, and have been playing a wind instrument since I was 8, performing since I was 10, and playing guitar since I was 12. I'm not a professional but consider myself a competent amateur. Even so I found Gregg could teach me a thing or two. I'm now the proud owner of a DAW and desk strewn with MIDI peripherals and Ableton Live 11 Standard... I guess I'll be following Gregg's course on that next. I've a few memories, ideas and tunes in my head I want to express and now have a useful understanding of the palette of timbres available to me from a range of scales and modes.
Thanks Gregg... great course.
-David Marshall, Jan. 27, 2023