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Update | FAQs: Vivace Ear Training & Music Theory Program

Sayaka Seki | Piano Faculty | Vivace International School of Music

Copyright © 2020 Vivace International School of Music. All rights reserved.

Q. What is Ear Training?

A. Ear training is a class that is particularly catered to enhance one's musical abilities, vocally, aurally and visually. Although this is a classroom setting, each student will actively participate and has an equal chance to sing and speak/tap rhythm in front of the class every week.

Q. And Theory?

A. In order to play a piece well with good interpretation, we must know everything that is on the music score first. Understanding terms/signs and musical concepts will help students think more logically, and it leads to a more effective practice and productive private lessons.

Q. What do students actually do in the class?

A. Singing and rhythm counting are the two main components of the class. Students will learn how to sing in solfege, which is the most common and global method to become familiar with musical notes at a young age. Students will also speak and tap a variety of rhythmic patterns that will help them pulse more accurately and steadily when playing their instrument. Other activities involve echo singing, echo tapping, identifying features and styles of music, dictation, 2-part voicing, sound recognition of instruments, etc.

Q. Why should students take the ear training class in addition to the private lesson?

A. Students will learn most of the things through their private teacher during private lessons. The ear training class reinforces the information that students receive in private lessons. By students being enrolled in ear training class and improving the ground work on note recognition and rhythm accuracy, private teachers can focus more on improving students' techniques, giving tips to sound better, and artistically inspiring students to get to the next level. Those who take both private lessons and ear training class progress at a much faster pace.

Q. Is there homework for this class?

A. Yes. It is essential for students to repeat and practice what we do in the class. However, the amount of the assignment is very moderate, and it will usually take less than 10 min a day, 4-5 days a week, to prepare for the next class. It will not Interfere the practice time of private lessons.

Q. Is this class ABRSM compatible?

A. Yes. Our ear training class is perfect for those who would like to improve on the aural skills of ABRSM practical exams, outside private lessons. The teachers will use aural skill books often to help students get familiar with the testing situation.


Update: Dec. 21, 2020

Q. How long should my child continue taking ET classes?

A. Great question! For private lessons, many people assume that children’s music study should continue until the end of high school unless they become a music-major. But in fact, studying music is a life-long journey. Professional musicians and teachers keep practicing and learning and always find a better way to perform. We have different levels of ET classes, so what we offer in the class is also unlimited. Please look at the chart below to see the accomplishment level according to years of ET classes taken.

1 semester

Students will learn an introductory level of solfege, music notation, and basic theory. Most rhythm work includes up to 8th notes.

1 year (Fall, Spring, Summer)

Students will start to feel more comfortable with solfege singing and their pitches become more stable and accurate. Rhythm work will expand to 16th notes. Equivalent to ABRSM Gr. 1 theory study.

1-2 years

Students can take more complicated solfege work to accurately differentiate subtle changes made by half steps in a phrase (E.g. Ab going to A natural). They will have knowledge of both major and minor keys for singing and theory work. Music notation may extend to 32nd and 64th notes. Equivalent to ABRSM Gr. 2-3 theory study.

2-3 years

Students will be able to confidently sight-read a moderate level of music with solfege. With a first pitch given by the piano, students will be able to stay in the key for a long time. The theory level is now at a point that students take a look at advanced music (E.g. Mozart sonata) and understand almost everything on the music score without looking up terms or signs, and they can figure out the rhythm on their own. Equivalent to ABRSM Gr. 3-5 theory study.

4 years +

Students will be working on the aural skills and theory equivalent to freshman-level music major.

Just like private lessons, some students progress very fast and the others need extra time to thoroughly understand what is taught in the class. The ET teachers assess how each student does in a semester, and some students move on to a higher level in the following semester or they may remain at the same level. Students need to show commitment to the class by completing homework on time and practicing regularly to move on to the next level. For young students, we usually take more time to explain things and may repeat the same work for weeks, so the pace may be a little slower than what is shown on the chart.

Q. My child is very shy and doesn’t like to sing. Can s/he still join the class?

A. Singing is mandatory for the ET class, so we are happy to give some tips that might help the situation!

● Since the parents’ presence is required for this class, the mother or father is welcome to sing along with the child until s/he feels comfortable singing alone.

● Before enrolling at the beginning of a semester, please observe a beginners’ ET class in the middle of a semester once to see what the class is like. Our ET classmates are very friendly and you can just watch instead of participating in the class.

● Before enrolling in the class, it would be helpful to watch some youtube for children’s songs and become familiar with some tunes.

● Please let your child know that being able to sing with good pitches is a necessary step to become a good musician regardless of the instrument the child studies.

Q. When is a good time to start Ear Training and Theory class?

A. We feel that it is more effective to start Ear Training and Theory class after a child already had at least one semester of private lessons. The difference between zero-music study and a semester of music study is really big in a classroom. A child should first learn the very basics from a private teacher, then ET teachers will reinforce the ideas in a group setting.

Q. How does a group class works in an online setting?

A. Just like private lessons, ET classes use the Zoom app. We recommend using a desktop or laptop for the class. ET teachers use a drawing pad/tablet to show the work on the screen. The teacher and the students are always showing the face even when the material is shared on the screen. When one student is performing (singing or clapping), the others will remain muted.

Q. Is this class ABRSM compatible?

A. Yes. Our ear training class is perfect for those who would like to improve on the aural skills of ABRSM practical exams, outside private lessons. The teachers will use aural skill books often to help students get familiar with the testing situation.

Due to Covid-19 and our online circumstances, ET classes are omitting some work of aural skills in preparation for ABRSM practical exams. The lag that sometimes happens due to Zoom connection makes it difficult to assess the accuracy of students’ answers, as some sections of the ABRSM aural skills test require a response in tempo. Instead, we are focusing more on work that students can answer with their own timing.


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For further info about:

  • Vivace Private Lessons (Piano, Violin, Viola, Cello, Double Bass, Guitar, Flute, Clarinet, Oboe, Bassoon, Voice and etc.)

  • Vivace Ear Training & Theory Class

  • Vivace Music History & Appreciation Class

  • Vivace Music Production Fundamentals

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