SING THE NUMBERS on daily walk

I’ve been singing the major scale during my daily 45 min walk, not too fast, and not too loud of course. I go up and down, and jump around a little, trying to clearly see each sound before I sing it. So I was pleasantly surprised to see this new YouTube video demonstrating some of the things I was doing … and giving me more ideas …

After walking and singing for a while, I also try to just visualize the sound of each note of the scale, going slowly till I can clearly hear each sound in my mind.

This all seems to help me keep oriented when I get back to the SING THE NUMBERS tracks.


Nice! I do it on my bike ride from and to work. I cycle home for lunch, so I have a total of 4 rides of 5 minutes each. I started cycling through the harmonic environments per day. So for example on day 1 I do the first harmonic environment. The first three rides I sing the Sing The Numbers tracks (there are three of them) and the last ride is improvisation with a backing track in the same harmonic environment.

The video you posted has some nice ideas too!
Did you know you can embed it like this?


I do @MireiaClua 's “Ear Training Workshop” (ETW) exercises on my stationary exercise bike! I use my bike for ~25minutes 4-5 times a week & I have weekly sets of 5 different playlists set up, each having a different set of alternating “Sing The Numbers” (STN) & “Feel The Numbers” (FTN) tracks.

The FTN tracks are part of the ETW course materials and are rather like STN, except that there is no voice, just the backing track plus tones played on keyboard followed by an equal space in which you can sing back the tones as numbers.

Back when I first did the ETW course I would get so totally lost with FTN that I had my playlists as STW only. When I started the second run through I added FTN.

When doing the course run throughs my playlists were oriented to the course week. Now I’ve settled down to a set of 5 which tie into the latter 4 weeks of the course (I split week 10 across two sets, one for ‘the octave’ the other ‘the octave & a half’).

Even now after the second run through the full course, plus a good few months more I’m still far from confident on FTN. I know I’m often wrong. Sometimes I still get totally lost. However, bit by bit I’m improving.

I still don’t think I’m ready for the “Recognising Chords by Ear” follow-up course, but I have hopes that I may feel ready by the time the late January 2021 run of the course comes around? :slight_smile:

2020-09-07: Edit to expand the description of ‘Feel The Numbers’ to mention the ‘sing back’ element.


Great video. I just watched it. Thanks for sharing with the forum.

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Hey @DavidW, i started the Ear Training Worshop too. I thought I would be better at FTN than I actually am :roll_eyes: :smile:. I’m in the first week now. I could do the first two FTN exercises without trouble. The third one is a bit more challenging. So i’m practicing the first three notes some more for a couple of days before I retry FTN.

@ImproviseForReal mentioned that being really really good at the basics is the foundation of everything. So I plan to keep at it until I’m very confident at week 1 before I progress to week 2 and beyond.

Ah. That one. Don’t be put off by that. It’s something of an ‘outlier’. AIUI it wasn’t originally going to be part of the course? It was added part way through the first week of the first run “at the request of some students” who “needed a little more challenge”. When it was added @MireiaClua mentioned “if you feel that tracks 1 and 2 were hard enough, you don’t need to worry about this new track 3”.

At that stage in the first run I couldn’t even manage tracks 1 & 2! On the second run, through I used FTN tracks 1 & 2, but I still bypassed track 3 & I’ve never gone back there yet. Maybe I should, sometime?

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Thanks for the info. I’ll skip it for now then. Or maybe i’ll download it and slow it down. Let’s see if that makes a difference. If I can do it, i’ll slowly speed it back up until I can do it at full speed.

When you get to week 2 you’ll find there’s a 1.2.34 FTN track that is almost the opposite. Very slow, with only a steady drone as background. I listened to that track this morning having decided to take a run through some of the earlier tracks, prompted by watching @ImproviseForReal 's “When to Advance” video again. The drone based track is rather different to the rest; a very interesting & useful exercise (as are they all, of course).

Just tried that one yesterday for the first time. It’s really nice!

A revision on the above.

After taking a look at @ImproviseForReal (i.e. David)'s “When to Advance” video, I took an experimental step back to the earlier ‘weeks’ of ETW. That was an interesting & educational exercise. I was way, way better than when I’d started, maybe 80% as opposed to ‘opps, lost already after just a few notes’, but far from ‘just know it’, so I decided to switch my set of 5 playlists from weeks 7, 8, 9, 10a & 10b to weeks 2,3,4 & 5 (i.e. from notes ‘1.2.34’ to ‘’).

I’ve been using those for four weeks now & feel it’s been a really good move. Still not a case of ‘just know it’, but edging closer & more confident, and (very important) enjoying it.

At some point I’ll move on, & still hope to be ready for “Recognising Chords by Ear” by its January 2021 run, but I’ll stick with these playlists for a while yet.

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This thread has inspired me to start Singing The Numbers again daily. I too use my daily walks to include some numbers singing. The main thing I am having trouble with is visualising the tonal map at the same time.

I know just singing is OK, but I feel sure David’s advice to look at a paper version of the map and follow it while singing is a faster way to improve. Walking and reading at the same time isn’t easy and can get dangerous (ouch!) so I’m trying to visualise the map and each of the notes I’m singing at the same time. It gets easier each day, but if anyone has some tips, I’m interested.

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I would suggest following what David Reed says. Which is… do only a few tones at a time, over and over until you can see those few notes clearly. Then add one more note.

We all resist this because our egos think we’re not making progress this way. Our egos are so wrong so often, huh?

The first lessons in Sing the Numbers 1 are the place to start. Just repeat over and over until it’s all as familiar as the face of your spouse.

Then improvise on just those 3 notes with or without a backing track.

And then move on to more notes … but don’t rush ahead biting off more than you’re ready to chew.

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Are you visualising the map the way they’re set out in the STN class notes, i.e. linearly as

Since I consider guitar as my main instrument I tried ‘visualising’ the map in the fretboard arrangement, & found that suits me better - more compact & it relates direct to my instrument. I also get to choose alternate ‘visual fingerings’ now & again if I fancy it.

It works for me. YMMV.

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Yes, I’m using the tonal map for visualisation, not the physical fretboard. I think both approaches are good but for different reasons.

Understanding the relationships between the sounds is best for me using the tonal map. It’s all about hearing the sounds in context of the scale and tonal centre.

Projecting these sounds onto one’s instrument (guitar for me also) follows on afterwards as the physical representation of the tonal map.

I have tried using the visualisation of the fretboard and that does indeed seem to have a dramatic effect on my knowledge of where the numbers are physically located. To be honest, visualisation might be even more effective than sitting and playing the numbers over and over. I have in the past wondered if this ability to visualise what you want to play is the big differentiator between people I think have natural ability and me.

That ties in very well with an observation I made in just the last couple of days & was wondering how to fit in here on the Forum. :slight_smile:

Prompted by the usefulness of the “When to Advance” video I’ve been dipping into some of the other Blog/youtube videos & last week I got to @ImproviseForReal (David)'s ‘IFR Guitar: Playing Without Looking’ something I’ve very rarely tried (I only picked up guitar a bit over a year ago). In my brief experiments since watching the video I find that trying to play even small groups the act of closing the eyes or of just looking away (which I find I prefer) seems to greatly enhance the ear training effect of the exercise. The exercise is transformed into a sort of ‘instant delivery Feel The Numbers’.

I’m not sure if not looking simply allows me to hear more that when looking, or if it actively forces/encourages me to listen to & hear the tones more carefully/clearly? I suspect the latter.

I hope to include at least a bit of this as a regular (& growing) part of my daily practice from now on.

I generally start the session by picking a number from 1 to 7 (I use Monday = 1, Tuesday = 2, etc.,) and a starting note, then playing that note & the folowing two in each of the 3 possible patterns in each possible position from near the headstock along towards the bridge. This week I’ve been using F as 1 for my exercise. So, as today is Sunday, the set will be 71.2, played as E F G. This will be the first day of seeing how much I can manage without (much) looking! :slight_smile:

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You are much more organised than me! I just pick up my guitar, lay down a chord or two on my looper and then try to improvise over that from a random position. I started with the chords to the Hotel California verse, but that proved too much for my brain at its current state of awareness and speed. I’ve gone back to 2 chord diatonic progressions for now😊.

Playing without looking is great for encouraging visualisation. I assume that is because you have to see the fretboard in your mind in order to guide your fingers.

By each of the 3 positions are you referring to the 3 Tonal Shapes that David talks about in 2 or 3 videos but then I don’t think expands upon again? I’m sure there is a lot of goodness I am missing from not understanding how the tonal shapes are useful. I’d appreciate input on this from you or anyone else on the forum. I might make a separate post asking about them.

I’m not certain which video sequence you are referring to. It’s an idea I picked it up from David’s IFR Video Course for Guitar.

Taking 1, 2 & 3 as an example. You can play that as 1.2.3 on a single tring, or as 1.2 on one string moving to the next higher string for the 3, or with only the 1 on the starting string & the 2.3 on the second string. Then move your 1 to a different octave & repeat across & back & along the neck till you run out of options for moving the 1.

Does that make sense?

For ages I always used C as 1, but recently I started to ring the changes & pick a different staring note each week. Even with the fixed ‘C as 1’ I feel it’s been a big help in getting a feel for where all the notes are as well as being an exercise that both warms up the fingers & helps ‘ingrain’ the relationships of the groups of 3.

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You should write to IFR support and ask to elaborate in the tonal shapes… David Reed will give you a thorough reply I’m sure.

I use the tonal shapes daily. I’ll tell you how I see it…

Just looking at it from a ‘sing the map’ point of view, the tonal scale has only three 3-note shapes. They are

  • Tone, whole step skip, whole step skip. That shows up as. 1,2,3 and 4,5,6 and 5,6,7

  • Tone, half step skip, whole step skip. That shows up as. 3,4,5 and 7,1,2

  • Tone, whole step skip, half step skip. That shows up as 2,3,4 and 6,7,1

I took the lesson here to be that if you have the sound of those elemental shapes in your head, and can sing or play them from any starting note, then you’ll have gone a long way to getting the tonal sounds locked in, for every environment. I actually practice singing these daily, and it seems to be giving me a more stable sound picture. Maybe because 7 notes is too much for my brain, and less than 3 notes is too small of a building block.

But you should write to David Reed and get the real answer

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Yes. That’s exactly what I was referring to. I have been through that and found it good to simply pick a random note and string and then play the shapes from there. A few minutes is all I can take of playing and saying the numbers at the same time though. After that my mind wanders.

My confusion is over what these shapes do for your playing. David talks about them then they never appear again in his guitar course. How do they help improvisation, arpeggios, scales or chord melody?

I had a go at guessing their usefulness by seeing how each tone centre level was constructed using the shapes. I arbitrarily used W(ide)for tone, tone, L(eft)for halftone, tone and R(ight)for tone, halftone:

1 2 34 5 6 7 = W L W
2 34 5 6 71 = R W R
34 5 6 71 2 = L W L
4 5 6 71 2 3 = W R W
5 6 71 2 34 = W L R
6 71 2 34 5 = R W L
71 2 34 5 6 = L R W

It didn’t really help🤔. So I guess I need someone to explain it to me.


That makes sense. Thanks. So it’s more about recognition of the sounds than fretboard skills for you? In other words, are you using the tonal shapes consciously while you improvise, create chords or arpeggios or does it just provide a subliminal foundation to playing?