Audiation an essential?

Hi everyone.
I have what I think is a pretty poor ability to audiate. Will this in itself
prevent me from progressing in the course?

Hi Dafloydman,

When I started with IFR in Jan 2020, I had a “pretty poor ability to audiate.” But IFR has an amazing tool, the “Sing the Numbers” tracks. I started working with them and my instrument as a daily meditation. I did this for a 1-1/2 years. One day my wife was playing her guitar and singing a song. I took out my sax, and started playing along. Her jaw dropped. “What the &(% was that?” she exclaimed.

When I first started this exercise, I had to spend a lot of time figuring out the key of the track, and then wrote it down. Eventually, I stopped looking at my cheat sheet and would randomly play a track so I wouldn’t memorize the key. By the time I got to the second level, I no longer wrote down the key, but fingers would find it without thought.

Growing up, I was forbidden to play an instrument. I had an abusive father who told me the reason was that I was tone deaf. I went 42 years before I took up the sax, and another 17 before I discovered IFR. Now, I can play just about any tune by ear. It is not something one is born with, it is acquired through practice and the abandoning of limiting beliefs such as, “I have pretty what I think is a pretty poor ability to audiate.”

I hope this helps.


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Hi Woody.
Thanks so much for the inspiring post, it is a really good success story for sure.
I actually couldn’t transcribe when I first started playing but it didn’t take too long to
learn how to actually listen in the way is required.
My audiation faculty is much like my visual one, in that I will only hear or see what is inside
my head when I am not intending to. For instance if I am writing a song I will often forget it,
and when I do something else will get a flash
of a complete sample of the song and by the time I notice it is gone, but sometimes this is
enough to work with.

I am really glad for you that your genuine instinct to pursue you musicality trumped your
childhood experiences, I have seen people that appear truly gifted never really progress.

All the best mate, and thanks again.

Let me Agee 100%. If you use the IFR sing the numbers products, you will get there. It just takes time and regular practice… even just 5 minutes a day. But after a while you’ll get hooked, and you’ll naturally go longer each day. Because it’s fun to sing the numbers.

Thanks so much. There is certainly lots of success stories around here.

Thanks for your help guys. One more related question.
How much clarity are we talking about?
Full replay of all parts, or just the melody?

+1 to that @hender99 I’m in my 3rd year of SInging The Numbers & I still enjoy every minute of it, even when I cycle back to 1.2.3

I was neary 60 before I rebelled against the ‘Your Tone Deaf’ judgement of my elementary school teachers. Ear training is perhaps the toughest challenge I’ve ever taken on, but so rewarding.

If you consider @MireiaClua 's Ear Training for Musical Creativity course that takes it to another level with a set of tracks called Feel The Numbers that run almost parellel to the Sing The Numbers material. Somewhere here on the forum Mireia describes how to make your own Feel The Numbers tracks too.

Edit to add: Feel The Numbers tracks again use a listen/respond format. In the response measure you still sing (&/or play) back what you just heard, the difference is that in the listen measure instead of hearing a voice sing one or more tones you hear instrument play one or more tones for you to identify & repeat. N.B. There is no answer sheet! That can seem a bit intimidating at first (which may be one of the reasons that Feel The Nembers is only available as part of a course?), but the idea that you are your own judge quickly settles in. Knowing (‘feeling’) you got the tone number wrong is the first step in getting it right… :slight_smile:

With Sing The Numbers I now cycle through the whole set (I have a ‘mix tape’ of all the Sing The numbers tracks, now interleaved with some chord progression recognition tracks, that I listen to while driving, gardening, etc.,). I only use the Feel The Numbers materials when I can concentrate properly on them and I only go as far as I’m comfortable with - taking @ImproviseForReal (David Reed)'s advice to go deep & slow (my words, not his?) and only move on when ready.

Currently my regular serious ear training (which I do 4-5 times a week while putting in my 10k on an exercise bike!) is centered around a set of playlists that have Feel the Numbers only ‘revision & consolidation’ for 71.2.3 & 5.6.71, plus a couple of Sing the Numbers/Feel the Numbers ‘pairs’ for It’s only a month or two since I moved ‘up’ to this level. When I first started with Feel The Numbers I struggled even with the simplest 1.2.3 tracks.

And remember that Sing The Numbers can also be used in situations where it’s not possible for you to sing (e.g. a crowded train, or in a ‘quiet’ place?). In those situations you can listen to Mireia & mentally sing back the tones. On at least one occasion I recall making what felt like quiet a breakthrough with my visualisations of the tones while doing exactly that.

Really positive stuff. Thanks


Do you use the tracks for voice or with your instrument or both? I’ve been using sing the numbers solely with my instrument.

Up to now I’ve used them almost exclusively with voice, only trying with instrument a very small number of times. However, I feel quite stongly that I should make more use of then with my instrument (mainly guitar, but now also trying to learn Chapman Stick), as I’m sure it would be ‘A Good Thing’.

To encourage/nudge myself in that direction I have in mind trying to combine instrument based Sing the Numbers with becoming familiar with the fretboard of the Chapman Stick. The steady pace of the exercise with it’s built listen/respond seems well suited to the task? I had literally written ‘Note to Self’ about doing that earlier today, so how’s that for coincidence. :wink:

Chapman stick is a cool thing. Haven’t seen one for years.

Very cool that you’re learning to play Chapman Stick. We have a master Chapman artist here in the Verde Valley of Arizona, Michael Kollwitz. He has regular gigs in Sedona, which is about 20 miles from where I live in Cottonwood. Still haven’t gone out to hear him, sorry to say.

I’ve used the tracks exclusively with my instrument, and am considering getting Mireia’s “Ear Training for Musical Creativity” because of your recommendation. I have wanted tracks without the actual number being sung–I’d like to do my exercises from solely the tones.

I know of Michael, but when you mentioned a master Stickist in Arizona, the first name that came to mind was Steve Adelson, however I think he’s near Phoenix? He moved to Arizona, from New York, a couple of years ago. I have Steve’s instructional book & DVD, & occasionally ‘meet’ him on a Zoom meeting where Stickist’s get together. Steve’s a very inventive player, still experimenting and coming up with new techniques even though he’s been playing for around 40 years (he’s fond of saying that the instrument is still so new that even beginners can contribute to its development). He often plays ‘across the board’ i.e. using strings on both the left & right sides of the Stick with the same hand. That’s pretty unusual (even though it was a thing that Emmett Chapman himself was doing when he first came up with the idea of a ‘bass in 5ths, melody in 4ths’ instrument). Here’s Steve playing a gig at the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) in Phoenix last November. Some of the techniques he’s using in this track are ones he invented during lockdown.

I’m certain you’d find it to be a great value purchase. :smiley:

I’m certain you’d find it to be a great value purchase

I did buy it yesterday, and worked with it all day today. It was exactly what I was looking for! When I played the first feel the numbers track, I could hear in my head the numbers! It definitely is worth it. Even though I have had IFR since Jan 2020, I’m really doubling down with it now. I’m enrolled in Jelske’s 12-week class also. It is good to have the accountability of classmates and access to an instructor, as well as a new lesson each week.

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+1 to that too. I found the course to be a great ‘accelerator’. Fundamentally the course is based on the approach described & explained in the IFR book, but having it set out by Jelske too, combined with the environment & framework of the 12 week course and the interaction with classmates was a big boost to my development.

I’ve started doing this now (2 days).

Last time I did StN with instrument I don’t think my voice was ready (I was only just starting learning an instrument and had only just discovered I even had a ‘voice’). Now, mainly playing the numbers but with the freedom to sing too when the mood takes me, it feels so natural. :slight_smile:

Because guitar is my main instrument I use that first to find the key & take a pass or two through the track, then I move to the Chapman Stick. On the Stick, a significant part of the exercise is as an adjunct to becoming familiar with the fretboard (2 hands, ascending 4ths on one side, descendng 5ths on the other), so simply fingering the notes is plenty at this stage - but if I feel like ‘breaking into song’ that’s permitted. :slight_smile: