Game for training perfect pitch

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Game for training perfect pitch

Post by SunFishSeven » Fri Dec 24, 2010 9:58 pm

I have just been reading through the Fletcher book. really wonderful! thanks Chris for introducing me to this amazing woman!

I like in particular one of her analogies. how we use a rhyme to remember the days of the month, where it would actually make far more sense to just memorise them directly.

eg If you want to know the number of days in October, you have to go through the whole Rhyme to make sure October is not present.

the analogy is learning a melody by the step intervals rather than the absolute notes...

so I thought of a little game.

you would have a coloured bell for each note. each student has a bell. then they have to play the melody by hitting their bell at the right time.

then they would simply switch bells.

it would probably be best if they didn't sit in a line / semicircle etc. at first this may seem the obvious thing to do, but it would lead to the brain and attempting to use its old tricks rather than develop a new skill.

if anyone knows of a set of coloured bells, I would be interested

This would be a great teaching aid ... something like receptionists ding Bell maybe

i am thinking coloured metal tubes like windchimes


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Post by aruffo » Fri Dec 24, 2010 11:48 pm

I agree-- of all the wisdom dispensed by Fletcher, her warnings against indirect "knowledge" is what I remembered most clearly... especially when she describes the poor student who gets thrown off in the middle of his recitation; if the mnemonic fails him, he's completely lost, because he doesn't know the knowledge-- just the mnemonic.

Are you sure you'd want to use bells? I seem to remember that bells have an odd harmonic structure, and are thus one of the most difficult timbres in which to identify pitches. But I might be thinking of handbells, particularly.. still, there's something to be remembered there.

(Merry Christmas all!)

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Second suggestion: holding pitch

Post by SunFishSeven » Sat Dec 25, 2010 1:53 pm

I hadn't thought about that. I wonder what instrument sound is closest to human voice in terms of overtones. my guess is that the closest would be easiest to recognise, as production and recognition would be so close to one another.

I was visualising just something simple that could be struck. of course the game could be played by everyone singing a note. But then it would allow for cheating. it would probably be a lot of fun though.

but I like the idea of matching colours, and voice wouldn't work so well for that.

I'm currently writing some iPhone software to boost my musical skills, I spent about a month wading through the math behind detecting pitches. it is very interesting.

anyway, one of the ideas I am working on is to have a melody play and to just listen out for one particular note and hit it every time you hear it

another is to have a tone play and hit the corresponding button. another is to light up a button and have the user sing the matching tone, hopefully with the right phoneme.

I think singing the right phoneme at the right pitch identifying with the right colour... this will build a very strong association

Chris, I seem to remember you pointing out that Fletcher doesn't explicitly detail a particular method for perfect pitch. I guess this is because she is running at it from all angles, I remember a huge list of activities in her book.

I'm going to try the same thing; I have been playing with my guitar, finding which note lies in my singing comfort zone (C4 is close enough) and just trying to learn that note. and I usually get it now. but sometimes I just plain get the wrong note. and often I'm slightly too high or too low.

speaking with a friend who has perfect pitch, he told me when he was 10 or so ( and he went to a special music school ) he had to do an exercise of playing a tonic triad, singing a couple of verses in that key, and playing it again, and seeing how far he had slipped. and in the beginning he was slipping a couple of semitones, but gradually he became able to hold pitch.

I found the same thing! I wonder if this is an important step towards perfect pitch acquisition. obviously he couldn't have had it at this time. so that if you just increase the length of time over which you can hold pitch... so that you wake up the next day and it is still there...

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Post by aruffo » Sun Dec 26, 2010 4:49 am

It's also worth noting, particularly, that Fletcher is teaching children. Although failed efforts have shown that there is some art to teaching children-- you can't just try any random scheme and have them "pick it up" automatically-- the critical period is too obvious to be ignored.

I interpret the closing of the critical period as the phase during which habits become entrained. I am persuaded that children are able to learn new skills during the critical period (which ends around age 5) because, confronted with a complex task like language or music, they have not yet established preferred solutions-- so the effort to attempt Solution A is equivalent to Solution B, so there's no compelling neurological reason not to learn them both.

After the critical period, then, an adult is failing to learn because other habits are too powerful. Once a task is identified (consciously or unconsicously, I expect) the known solution is applied-- even when it fails-- because this is the mind's interpretation of what to do.

In which case.. I would suspect that it is not enough to come up with a plausible strategy for teaching a new skill. I'd say it's necessary to understand:
1. What is the strategy/skill that has been entrained?
2. How does my training system nullify the applicability of that skill?
3. What is the strategy/skill that is desired?
4. How does my training system require that skill?

Every system to date has failed on one or more of these points... not because it hasn't attempted to answer these questions, but because it has answered them wrongly. (I say that with confidence because, of course, if they had answered them correctly, they'd have worked.)

I suspect that a new system could shoot immediately for 3 and 4 without accounting for 1 and 2; often it misunderstands 1 and attempts to overcome it with an inappropriate 2 (such as playing "confusing tones" between guess-trials to "avoid relative judgment").

But in any event I think that all four questions are requisite. The difficult part isn't necessarily answering them, but answering them correctly.

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Re: Game for training perfect pitch

Post by TS » Sun Dec 26, 2010 2:33 pm

SunFishSeven wrote: if anyone knows of a set of coloured bells, I would be interested
You could get a bunch of Irish penny whistles, or tin whistles as they are also called, and put tape over the fingerholes so that they only play one pitch, and have a set of whistles, one for each pitch.

You could also use recorders instead of pennywhistles, and put tape over the fingerholes or glue some plugs in the holes.

There are also these things called slide whistles, that can play a continuous scale. You could get a bunch of slide whistles and glue the plunger in place so that the whistle can only produce one pitch.

Tin whistles, recorders and slide whistles can be very cheap.

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