How to Study-Practice Scales: Solfege Ear Training

Reading and singing the Solfege syllables out loud is a very effective way to internalize the unique sound-feeling of each note in a musical scale. Here are are some suggested patterns for doing so, using the Bb Major Scale as an example…

Sing the scale as Solfege syllables LINEARLY, ascending…

piano-ology-scales-how-to-study-practice-solfege-ear-training-b-flat-major-linearly-ascending

and descending…
piano-ology-scales-how-to-study-practice-solfege-ear-training-b-flat-major-linearly-descending

Tip: It is absolutely essential that you sing out loud.


Sing the scale as Solfege syllables in a Do-X-Do pattern, ascending…

piano-ology-scales-how-to-study-practice-solfege-ear-training-b-flat-major-do-x-do-ascending

and descending…

piano-ology-scales-how-to-study-practice-solfege-ear-training-b-flat-major-do-x-do-descending

Tip: At first, it’s okay to play the notes on the piano as you sing, but the ultimate goal is to be able to hear-feel each note in your mind’s ear without help from your instrument.


Sing the scale as Solfege syllables in BROKEN THIRDS, ascending…

piano-ology-scales-how-to-study-practice-solfege-ear-training-b-flat-major-broken-thirds-ascending

and descending…

piano-ology-scales-how-to-study-practice-solfege-ear-training-b-flat-major-broken-thirds-descending

Tip: It is critically important that you play and sing these studies slowly enough to allow the sound-feelings to make an impression on your mind’s ear.


Sing the scale as Solfege syllables in TRIPLETS, ascending…

piano-ology-scales-how-to-study-practice-solfege-ear-training-b-flat-major-triplets-ascending

and descending…

piano-ology-scales-how-to-study-practice-solfege-ear-training-b-flat-major-triplets-descending

Tip: Do not try to hear the interval between successive notes. It’s okay if you do, but be receptive to the unique sound-feeling of each note with respect to the key center Do.


Sing the scale as Solfege syllables in DIATONIC TRIADS, ascending…

piano-ology-scales-how-to-study-practice-solfege-ear-training-b-flat-major-triads-ascending

and descending…

piano-ology-scales-how-to-study-practice-solfege-ear-training-b-flat-major-triads-descending

Tip: Other patterns are possible as well.  At that point your time is better spent going right to the kinds of music that you want to play for your study-practice material.

LEARN MORE… How to Study-Practice Scales: Performance

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About Frank J Peter

A uniquely burdened and blessed citizen of the world thinking and acting out loud!
This entry was posted in Aural Comprehension, How to Read Music, How to Study-Practice, Music Theory, Scales and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to How to Study-Practice Scales: Solfege Ear Training

  1. Holger says:

    Hi all,

    the huge amount of awesome quality education this site has is unbelievable!

    Having this out of the way, here would be my question. 🙂

    The solfege practice mp3s (in the study aids section) establish a major tonality via a V-I cadence.

    Could I use the same mp3s for practicing to recognize the tonal functionalities of a minor key, or would this not be sensible?

    I thought of starting with a single octave, and mix and match the files like
    this: Do Re Me Fa So Le Te Do (ie. starting at middle C).

    Would I actually practize hearing the degrees of a minor key with the above
    (despite the majorness of the established key center)?

    Thanks a lot!

    Holger

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Holger, for the words of appreciation. It gives me the greatest satisfaction when artists like you discover my work and resonate with the message I am trying to socialize. Now to your most excellent question, which gets to the heart of Solfege and how music really works. The short answer is this: In order to cultivate the most flexible hearing, we should practice hearing the solfege syllables “in context”, that is, in the tonality that we would like to hear them… for the simple reason that we are not merely listening for intervals, but we are listening for FUNCTIONAL relationships. That said, it is appropriate to play a tonal MINOR cadence if you want to learn to learn the Solfege syllables by sound in a tonal minor context. A good point of reference is to realize, for example, that Mi in a tonal major key serves the same function as Me in a minor key… and they will sound/feel functionally different in each context. By extension, it is appropriate to establish the tonality, whether it be tonal major, tonal minor, dorian, mixolydian, blues, or whatever. I hope that makes sense. Please let me know how it goes and don’t hesitate to ask any more questions. All the best to you in music and life!

      Like

      • Holger says:

        Thanks a lot for your response!

        I’m still an absolute beginner when it comes to functional ear training, so part of your answer turns out tout to be slightly over my head. 🙂

        “A good point of reference is to realize, for example, that Mi in a tonal major key serves the same function as Me in a minor key… and they will sound/feel functionally different in each context.”:

        This I don’t fully get, I’m afraid.

        I know that Mi is the 3rd degree in a major scale, and Me is the 3rd degree in a minor scale.

        Is this 3rd degree the function you are referingto?

        I’m slightly confused, because I thought in the context of solfege, if two notes have the same function in the key, they would sound/feel the same, no?

        When I establish a minor tonality and then play the 3rd degree of the scale to hear/feel Me, it sounds/feels different than Mi (sharpened 3rd) with regard to the same key center, I believe.

        Here, I’d say, Me sounds realtively tensionless, while Mi, being not part of the minor scale, has a higher amount of tension.

        When I establish a major key center, the roles of Me and Mi are switched, and so Mi sounds realtively stable, while Me appears to have more tension.

        But I don’t really hear that Me in a minor key sounds/feels the same as Mi in a major key, I’m afraid.

        Since the 3rd degree of a scale introduces the major/minor-ness of a scale, they must sound different, no? You see, I’m confused. 🙂

        “By extension, it is appropriate to establish the tonality, whether it be tonal major, tonal minor, dorian, mixolydian, blues, or whatever.”:

        Hmm, here I’m lost completely. Could you go in to a bit more detail how you mean this is an extension of the above, please?

        Liked by 1 person

        • Oops! I fear that I tried to answer a much broader question than you were asking, Holger. That said, you are absolutely correct in saying that Me and Mi will sound quite different no matter the context. All I was suggesting is that context also matters in that function, not just sound per se, is also important… and so my recommendation is to do ear training in the context that is of interest to you. To be more specific. If you want to hear-feel the solfege syllables in an F major blues context, a simple first step is to play a F7 chord in your left hand and single notes in your right in order to experience how they sound-feel in a blues context. Another example: If you want to hear-feel the solfege syllables in a G dorian context, a simple first step is to play a Gm7 chord in your left hand and single notes in your right in order to experience how they sound-feel in that dorian context. Make sense?

          Like

          • Holger says:

            Yes, makes perfect sense to me now. 🙂

            I experimented with your suggestions quite a lot, and I discovered an amazing detail.

            Practizing hearing the functionalities in one context (major / minor / blues, etc), appears to inform the hearing in the other contexts, too.

            For example, when listening to Me in a minor context for a while, and then switching to major (changing the key center also, just to make sure), helps to discern Me in the major context also.

            If this is true, it would imply that the mode actually wouldn’t matter for the functionality with regard to a key center. Am I on the right track here? Is This what you were trying to tell me above?

            I mean, there are other ways to establish a key center than playing a chord. for example, simply repeating the same note over and over.

            Let’s say, playing C a bunch of times. This way one would establish the key center to be C, but one wouldn’t know anything about the mode yet.

            But one wouldstill be able to hear-feel the tonal functionalities (Do Ra Re Me Mi …) of this key center C.

            I hope that’s not complete rubbish! 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

  2. dave says:

    well with the major, minor and that mixy scale on the horizon

    got some homework to Do

    Liked by 1 person

  3. dave says:

    poetry alert!

    So..the student does the Do
    fixes the central tonality
    and the other notes follow

    Liked by 1 person

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