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Scales in the drive through. Mnemonic crutches for intervals.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

I've got a light, inexpensive, tough practice banjo in the passenger seat of my car.  When I'm warming up the car, or stopped at a long light, or in the drive through, I pick it up and practice scales.  Every bit of practice helps.


When I'm not playing scales, I'm still listening to the "Two Note Intervals" ear training series on the car stereo.  I found fourths and fifths pretty easy, probably because I have trained on those using the app on my phone.  Tritones are new to me, but not difficult.  I've never trained on sixth intervals before, so that's the first lesson I'm doing where I don't benefit from any prior training.  As might be expected, that one is more work.

I am using popular songs as mnemonics to remember the various intervals.  For example, an ascending M2 (major 2nd) interval is the first two notes in "Frère Jacques.".  An ascending m6 (minor sixth) interval is the first two notes in the Beatle's "Because."  I suspect that with more training, the mnemonics won't be needed--I'll just hear an interval and know what it is.  That's what I hope, anyhow.  But for now, the mnemonics work.  I hear an interval, I think "Good Night Ladies," and then I know it's a descending perfect fourth.  Or if you want me to sing a descending perfect fourth, I'm first going to think of the song "Good Night Ladies," and from that know the sound of it.

Remembering the mnemonic songs is the hardest part.  Before listening to the course, or in the shower, or whenever I feel like it, I drill myself on the mnemonics to see that I remember what interval is what song.  As long as I can remember the mnemonics, I can do the exercises fine.  But I do hope to get to where I don't need the mnemonic crutch.  It seems limiting.  The instructor of the course says that "many students use popular songs...," which makes it sounds like the usual or expected course is for one to no longer need the songs.  That'll be good.

2 comments

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Playing Since: 2012
Experience Level: Intermediate

Occupation: programmer

Gender: Male
Age: 60

My Instruments:
Short scale banjos, most of them with frets, and one without. Most of them by Backyard Music, and one Goodtime Parlor.

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Created 10/21/2012
Last Visit 5/19/2021

Was born. Lived 51 years without playing anything. Dad handed me his banjo. Here I am.

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