Why practicing intervals is a waste of your time
By Janus Buch
As a full time guitar teacher I meet a lot of different students with different musical backgrounds. The ones who are starting from scratch are the lucky ones, as they don’t have any preconceived notions on what works and how to learn to play the guitars or in this case, how to improve their ear. I do however, get a lot of students who are more or less in the middle of their musical education and have been in contact with all sorts of different educational systems, music schools ect. Most of these people have been taught to practice singing and hearing their intervals, and more often than not, they are frustrated with the lack of results even after hours of practice. I myself have been told this time and time again, when studying at the university. While it is true, that training your ears is important, what and how you are training will make or break your progress. This article aims to give you the tools to train your ear and get the result your want fast!
Why intervals suck
Even though melodies consists of intervals, an interval in and of itself have very little musical meaning and this is one of they key reasons why people struggle to learn it. This might not make much sense right now, but stay with me, and I will explain what I mean. Let’s take the interval of a perfect fifth for example. This is the distance between the first and the fifth note in a major scale and the first two notes in the danish national anthem. But there are multiple perfect fifths in the major scale. In fact there are 6 of them. Between note 1 and 5, 2 and 6, 3 and 7, 4 and 8, 5 and 9 and finally 6 and 3. But if we star our melody with either one of these 6 examples of the SAME interval, they will sound radically different and this is exactly the point. The melody is actually not derived from a specific interval, but from the specific note functions that are played. That is why the same interval will sound different depending on which note functions are played. This is why you should not waste your time practicing intervals as is really has very little to do with actual music.
How to train
Instead of training your intervals you wanna spend your time listening to, learning to recognize and singing the different note functions instead. This is done by simply putting on a drone backing track and playing the different notes while listening to them. Listen to the emotions in the note, how the note feels and where it wants to resolve itself. Doing this will quickly make you able to recognize the different note functions and make you much better musician as result.
About the author: Janus Buch is been a professional guitarteacher for the last 5 years. He’s started Bredballe guitarschool that is located near Horsens in Denmark. If your are stuck in a rut with your guitar player and you’re local to the area, then book a free intro lesson now. Janus will be able to help ou along no matter how what your problem is. You have nothing to loose, but a lifetime of guitar playing to win. So if you’re looking for guitar lesson in Horsens, look no further than Bredballe Guitarskole