Music Teacher's Helper Blog

There is more than just learning how to play an instrument, sometimes you can see musicians tune their instruments very easily or improvise like it’s a walk in the park, well this has a lot to do with having a good ear, which can go as far as having perfect pitch which we will talk about later in the article.

Many people would say that a good ear is just something you have or you don’t, but there are actually many ways to train your ear to become more musically precise.

The great thing about these exercises is that you don’t need any kind of instrument to practice and it’s for everyone from beginners to advanced expert musicians.

Aural Skills

“Aural skills” are musical listening skills that develop your ability to hear specifically in regards to music and sound, and ear training is the process of developing these skills.

For example, if you can listen to a song on the radio and play or sing it back, you have been training your ears. If you can play back a rhythm, orcan tell the difference between different types of sound effects, you have been training your ears.

Ear Exercises

One of the best and simpler exercises is to practice intervals, this consists in identifying intervals between two notes, while doing this you’ll eventually be able to identify notes easier without having to sing the whole scale in your head.

Chords is another good way to practice, while it can be just about identifying the type of chord, it’s best if you also sing it. The same goes for scales, which is pretty much the cornerstone of music.

Perfect Pitch


Perfect pitch is exactly what it sounds like, it’s about singing a note at perfect pitch without any sort of guide.

According to

Some people believe you can only have ‘true’ perfect pitch by being born with it. According to Brady (1970), Ward and Burns (1999) and Levitin and Rogers (2005), “training that begins after the age of nine very rarely leads to [perfect pitch], and there are no known cases of an adult successfully acquiring it.”

But there is also evidence that you can develop perfect pitch without having a mystical, innate ability. A study carried out a few years ago at the University of Chicago tested a group of students with varied amounts of musical experience, before and after a period of pitch recognition training.

You can train your perfect pitch if you click down below and do the tests.

Your Ears Above All Else


Training your ear can help improvising as it helps you identify which notes are being played before jumping into the jam. This is something that can be heard mostly in jazz, where every band member can identify what the other bandmate is playing and follow him inmediately without wasting any time looking for the right notes.


This is very obvious, but training your ear and even training perfect pitch will eventually improve your singing, as it will be your “instrument” in this sort of training.

There is a very satisfying thing about being able to tune your instruments by ear, recognize melodies, scales and intervals nad being able to improvise by picking up the melody where your bandmate started. It gives any musician more than enough confidence to embark on new orginal compositions and perform in front of an audience with no fear of sounding bad.

The first mistake a young beginner makes is wanting to pick up an instrument and play music, when actually the first step is to learn how to listen.

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Musicians are always looking for new ways to make and record music not only because it’s more fun, but because it allows new ideas to flow more easily. It’s no secret that when an artist or an academic or any person that creates things from nothing, they take a break or a walk, something to clear their mind from the hard work of trying to every drop of creativity, but what if work is the break?

There is a place in in Joshua Tree, California that was founded in 1993 by Fred Drake and David Catching.

First materialized when Fred Drake spotted a sign listing ‘THREE HOUSES FOR RENT’ off Highway 62 in Joshua Tree. The two were just heading back to Hollywood in a friend’s borrowed Jeep after a much-needed desert sojourn in early 1993.

So, on a whim, they pulled off the highway to view three small houses on a 65-acre open desert property. Drake, being rather capricious, was immediately smitten with what he saw. He announced that he was going to establish a live-in studio within the larger, middle abode even though he lacked a car. The compound’s owners, quite happy to rent the place to eccentric artists, settled the deal then and there.

That was the beginning of a place that not only served as a studio, but a place where musicians, mostly rockers, spent days connecting with each other in the middle of the desert, at a time when music is all about computers, cables and digital work stations.

Dave Catching

After the original owner Fred Drake passed away, Dave Catching was left in charge and eventually moved in to manage the studio 24/7 which is not only interesting to say the least, but it gave the studio a new kind of vibe that resembled being in a “friends house”.

In an interview with, Dave Catching talked a bit about Rancho de la Luna.

There is something about this studio. Everyone that’s been here and recorded here feels it, so there is something to it. Maybe it’s just all the love that’s here from over the years. People do freak out about the drum room: they say it’s the best drum sound they have gotten—even the engineers.

I first went through Joshua Tree on my very first trip to LA with my band Modifiers, that I was talking about earlier. We drove through the park in 1982, and it was really a great place. Once I was living in LA, I started going back a lot for day trips and camping—at the time, the place was only 2 hours away—it’s gotten longer now because traffic has gotten worse. When Fred moved out here in 1992, I used to come to stay at this house. So, I already knew the place and there is definitely something magical out here.

One of the best ways to get closer to what it feels to be in Joshua Tree’s Rancho de la Luna is to listen to Desert Sessions, which include a wide range of different songs and genres with many different artists. The general idea is that it is a musician’s party of sorts, just getting together and make some music is just a very simple and wholesome kind of joy that can be felt through the music.

If you want to know more about the famous studio there is 3 part video on YouTube with Dave Catching giving a “tour” around Rancho de la Luna.

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Sid Meier’s Civilization series is a videogame that serves as a history teacher and strategy simulator, this requires a big a mount of research from the developers in order to deliver the most precise records from the most important events in human history, from the prehistoric age to modern times.

In Civilization VI one of the key aspects of the whole game is the music, not just because of how it helps with the inmersion but the way every nation has its own original soundtrack

Geoff Knorr’s Soundtrack

Civilization VI’s soundtrack is the work of Geoff Knorr, an american composer, orchestrator, mixer engineer and sound designer. He was highly praised by his work in Civilization games since 2014’s Civilization V.

My entry into games is fairly recent. As divine providence would have it, I was interning at a Baltimore recording studio and Firaxis came to that studio looking to record choir for the Civilization IV: Beyond The Sword Expansion Pack. I was able to provide the music transcription and score preparation as well help find singers from the Peabody Institute for the recording session. Afterwards, I kept in contact with Michael Curran and Mark Cromer, two of the audio guys at the time at Firaxis, in case a place opened up for me — which did happen in October of 2008. Civilization V is my first large video game project — most of my prior compositional work has been in concert music. Even today I am trying to stay active in both music for media and music for the concert hall.

Geof Knorr

The way the game works is that you choose one leader, for example, Ghandi from India, and when you start the game you begin your adventure at 4000 BC, this also marks the begining of the music’s evolution throughout history.


Every specific soundtrack has 4 versions throughout a single campaign, these 4 versions spread out through 9 eras:

  • Ancient Era (4000 BC)
  • Classical Era (1600 BC)
  • Medieval Era (120 ~ 200 AD)
  • Renaissance Era (1100 ~ 1200)
  • Industrial Era (1625 ~ 1675)
  • Modern Era (1840 ~ 1860)
  • Atomic Era (1920 ~ 1950)
  • Information Era (1960 ~ 2000)
  • Future Era  (2020 ~ 2050)

Another subtle yet impressive feature of Civ VI is its soundtrack…The music reflects the state of the world, mirroring the evolution of your empire as you enter new eras. The CIV VI soundtrack has become one of my favourite video game soundtracks of all time…and excels in making the gameplay more immersive and helping you to feel as if the world really is growing before you.

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There is also an interesting idea which is that there is two different playlists for war and peace, for each of the four regions in order to maintain a grater sense of inmersion and tension when things between nations aren’t at their best.

Great Inspirations

There’s a wide range of big classical compositions that can be found in the game, and this is a trend that has been present in all of the games throughout the series, at least as much as it can be. Nowadays there are bigger budget for videogames and bigger soundtrack possibilities as it is with Civilization 6.

Once again, some great “classical” orchestral music can be found in these playlists — compositions by Copland, Holst, Mahler, Grieg to mention a few — and we wanted to retain this from Civilization IV, as long as it fit the mood we were trying to create. The mood was most important to us — we had a very specific idea of what the soundtrack should sound like, and the leader music was being written to match that vision. In Civilization V, we integrated this leader music into the playlists in a very cool way, and expanded the depth of the playlists in doing so.

Geoff Knorr

It’s a rich game with rich music that surely deserves high praise and wether you enjoy playing the game or not, it’s soundtrack is worth listening to.

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