How can The Three Stooges help train your ears?

Well, you know what you parents would say: “Don't be like them”. And, they're probably right. But their theme song “Three Blind Mice” can be very helpful for developing students to train their ears. Why, because “three Blind Mice” is made up ENTIRELY of a 1 octave major scale plus the higher octave of the root. 

By the time a student is in middle school, on either sax or clarinet, they shold be able to play scales throughout their available range. Once that happens, I cycle them over time into all 12 keys. But to play in all 12 keys, you need to HEAR in all 12 keys. And the teachers and the band directors KNOW that the students hearing of the interval relationships in the easier scales helps them master the tougher scales. 

So, when a student has mastered several scales, I have them learn “Three Blind Mice” by ear in the scales that they know. It's one octave of a major scale. I teach them the first scale, one of their choice, using the intervals. Based on the scale tones, it goes like this: 3-2-1, 3-2-1, 5-4-4-3, 5-4-4-3, 5-O(octave)-O-7-6-7-O-5-5, 5-O-O-7-6-7-O-5-5, 5-O-O-7-6-7-O-5-5, 4-3-2-1, 3-2-1. 

Most students can figure that out in a matter of minutes. Then, I ask them to figure it out by ear in all the keys they can play. It's all a matter of intervals. Yes, it takes effort, but it can be done.And, it's independent of style. Sure, jazz players will benefit. But, so will classical players and rock players. It's a deceptively simple exercise, but takes some work. Then, I have them learn more things in all 12 keys. But “Three Blind Mice” is the start. 

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If you have any questions about sax and clarinet performance or jazz improvisation, please email me at tenorsaxxy@aol.com.

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