I’m taking Lissa Schneckenburger’s Learning By Ear course on Peghead Nation, and one of the first homework assignments is get a practice journal, write your commitment to ear training on the first page, and to schedule 5-10 minutes of ear training a day.

This blog has been taking over as my practice journal, although I do still take lots of notes in my paper notebook, just like always. So this is my declaration of an ongoing commitment to ear training.


There was a time when, given a tonal reference, I could give you the name of any note. It was an important skill as a jazz pianist, and one that I was very proud of. But I have severe hearing loss – I rely on hearing aids, without which I am functionally deaf. With hearing aids and hearing loss, I find that I am having to completely retrain my ability to tell pitches apart. With my near digital ears, I had a difficult time distinguishing a fifth from a third, and a minor seventh from a minor third. My brain didn’t know what to do with a second.

I have had to relearn to tell the difference between pitches, and an important part of that effort has been the Functional Pitch Trainer, which I have been using now for several months, and which I am really liking. The picture on this post is a screenshot after I completed the first two levels with 100% for the very first time. I have gotten 100% on each one of them more than once, but this was my first time getting them both together.

In a lot of ways the whole thing (ear training), has more of a feeling of rehab or physical therapy this time around than it did when I was in school.

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