One exciting thing about attending a conservatory is that I finally get to really learn about music--from the history and evolution of it to the mechanics behind our favorite pieces, it’s fun to get into a deeper understanding of something I’ve been practicing for years. One of my favorite classes at Juilliard is the much-feared ear training course because it encourages me to adopt a different perception of music. Most of the time, our job is to read notes off a page and make them sound “good.” Without a proper understanding of how music works, it’s easy to allow ourselves to get into the habit of letting music happen to us rather than actively creating music (if that makes sense). Ear training focuses on the most important part of experiencing music--being able to hear it--so we understand exactly how it works aurally, which in turn makes us more well-rounded and conscientious musicians.
From solfege and chord qualities to dictating musical passages, ear training teaches us how to understand music without relying on our own instruments or notes on a page. As a visual learner, I find this extremely challenging because so much of it is based on sound. However, it encourages me to explore different learning options that work for me. It’s definitely not the kind of class that I can cram for the night before (much to the chagrin of my fellow classmates and I during particularly busy days or weeks), but I’ve found myself applying the techniques I’ve learned in ear training to my own musical practice, which shows the musical growth I’m already starting to experience!