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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all, first post here and I wasn't sure which subforum it should be in but this seemed the most likely culprit! Apologies in advance for potentially rambling a bit.

Anyways, I've been an on-again off-again tenor sax player for years and a big part of not staying with it has been that music theory and learning by ear has always been really daunting to me (albeit slightly less so now that I've been diagnosed with ADHD, treating that has made regularly practicing much easier to do) and so my musical ceiling has felt frustratingly low.

Ear training while listening to songs on any kind of speaker - phone, a sound system, etc - is really hard for me, be it vocals or saxophone. In-person, I can figure out and match a note rather easily and quickly, but it doesn't translate whatsoever to recorded music. So I was hoping for any advice people could give on improving my ear in that regard.

Right now I'm starting to try to map out songs based on which notes in a string of them sound like half steps, whole steps, etc., but any tips that improve on that approach would be hugely appreciated.

Thanks in advance, and happy holidays! :D
 

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Before you tackle figuring out recorded music, learn what each interval sounds like on familiar songs. For example, the first 2 notes of Happy Birthday are a whole step (major 2nd), Jaws - a half step, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star - a 5th, and so on. Quiz yourself on the piano or your horn until you get good at it. Then tackle some simple recordings and work your way up to harder ones. There are lots of interval training videos on youtube to get you started as well as a list in the ubiquitous Abersold interval chart.
https://jazzadvice.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/22_interval_chart.pdf
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I'll check those out! We do have a keyboard in the same room that I practice in, I'll try to take advantage of it. In addition to those suggestions, there are some songs that I've sung a million times and know by heart, but most of them are Irish songs, Stan Rogers songs, etc, so far removed from jazz. I was thinking of trying to play them since I know the vocals inside and out. Would you recommend working on that in tandem with the interval practice - maybe after working through a couple of those videos each day - or just holding off on that until after I've progressed with those exercises?
 

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Do as much as you think you can handle and whatever works best for you. Since you know those tunes better than the standards in the chart, that can be your basis. Just realize that folk songs aren't going to have every interval, like augmented 5ths, major 7ths and other jazzy notes like that. So you'll have to step a little out of your comfort zone to learn them all.
 
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