Instrumental Ear-Training

Instrumental Ear-Training

Scott Watson
[email protected]
Parkland School District

TI:ME Technology Areas Addressed:



Any Level Instrumental Music


Notation Software
Optional: Sequencer


30 Minutes

Prior Knowledge and Skills:

Knowledge of their instrument
Ability to audiate familiar tune

MENC Standards Addressed:

MENC 2: Performing on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.
MENC 4: Composing and Arranging Music within specified guidelines.
MENC 5: Reading and notating music.
MENC 7: Evaluating music and music performances.


Sheet of familiar songs, but with certain measures or notes missing.


Students, via audiation and trial-and-error on their instruments, will be able to discover the correct notes to familiar melodies.
Students will be able to notate missing notes to familiar melodies.


Using notation software, prepare a song sheet of familiar melodies appropriate for the the ability level of your students. The more interested the kids are in the tune, the more motivated they will be to do this activity.
Most notation software allows you to “Hide Notes”. Use this feature to hide selected measures or notes. I don’t recommend hiding the beginning or ending of the tunes.
Hand out to students and ask them to use their instrument to discover the missing notes. Demonstrate strategies such as trial-and-error and following the melodic contour to get them started.
Have students pencil in simple noteheads (think “Gregorian chant”) as they try to solve in class. Students take sheet home to finish as part of home practice.
At the next lesson, allow students to show what they’ve figured out.


OPTIONAL: Accompany them on keyboard and allow them to evaluate whether the tune is accurate.
OPTIONAL: Accompany them with a sequenced accompaniment track and allow them to evaluate whether the tune is accurate.
OPTIONAL: Use notation software to have students notate one of the tunes they’ve completed (or have them fill in the missing notes from a copy of the original song sheet). Use the software’s playback feature to evaluate tune for accuracy.

Follow Up:

An obvious next step is to allow students to compose their own melodies,using their instrument and trial-and-error, improvisation, etc. I encourage kids to notate these melodies as best they can with pencil and manuscript paper before allowing them to use notation software (Finale NotePad). This makes their time with the software more productive.

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