A game to develop your ear

Now that you are on the fiddler’s journey, you will need a magic amulet: ear-training. Having this magic amulet will give you the power to play in tune, learn melodies by ear and eventually to improvise.

We will develop this magical amulet by playing a game called “Call-and-response.” This is one of the small steps that will set you up for a bigger win to come later in this lesson series: learning your first tune.


How this works

  • In these progressive call-and-response exercises, I’ll play something and then leave a space for you to play the same thing. Try to get in the mindset of a little kid playing a game of Simon and having fun.
  • Each exercise will start simply with single notes and then develop into more complex patterns. But pay attention! I will return to single notes here and there to keep you on your toes.
  • All exercises can be practiced with bowing, plucking singing or humming. In some cases, I’ll specifically suggest doing it a certain way. 
  • If after trying this, it is not clear, please ask a question in the comments below.

Video demonstration

Exercise 2: A string

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Exercise 3: D and A strings

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Exercise 4: E string

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Exercise 5: A and E strings

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Exercise 6: D, A and E strings

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Exercise 7: G string

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Exercise 8: G, D and A strings

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Exercise 9: G, D, A, and E strings

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Module Progress 1.1

Lessons complete in Module 1.1: 

All exercises can be practiced with plucking, bowing, singing or humming.

Unless this is extremely easy for you, I recommend practicing each of these exercises at least twice. The more you practice this way, the more the fiddle will become an extension of your body and your voice.


Continue on to Finger Dance >>

Return to top of Module 1.1 >>

 

23 responses to “Call-and-response Exercises 1.1

  1. On the D string, the first exercise, I’m having trouble remembering the pattern played in a couple of the calls. For example, the one that starts at 2:07, and another that starts about 2:43. I start to play my response, but I just can’t seem to remember the rhythm that got played. I’ve tried it several times (not 1000 yet).
    I’ve tried counting, but it hasn’t helped me. Is there a secret? I’d write it down, but that seems to defeat the purpose of the exercise.

  2. This is exactly what I’ve been looking for! You’re a mind-reader Jason or at least very adept at recognizing ways to build one’s fiddling skills besides just showing up at a bluegrass jam sesh and looking like I don’t know what the heck I’m doing. Thanks for making these challenges very approachable!

  3. I have the same problem as c-note … the response time is way too short on all but the first one for me. I just couldn’t keep up and pausing every time isn’t feasible. Good exercises though, but I’ll never be able to mark this one as complete I think

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