Howto: Use iAction to plan your ear training | Easy Ear Training

iPhone apps for ear trainingLast week we introduced you to iAction: a fantastic new iOS app for goal setting, progress tracking, and the support you need to keep you on course. We think it’s a great complement to our ear training apps and today we’re going to look in more detail at how it can help you in your journey to expert musicianship.

In our last post we had a quick overview of the features of iAction and gave you some idea of how it can be used with our apps. Now let’s look in more detail at how it can support your ear training.

Competition! The developers of iAction have given us a few free copies of the app to give away to our readers! See details at the end of this post…

iAction for your ears

Here at Easy Ear Training we define “ear training” as anything you do to improve the way you hear. The key point being: anything you do!

iAction is the perfect ‘manager’ for your ear training, because it’s built around defining what you want to accomplish, breaking it down into concrete tasks, and then getting helpful reminders to support you in carrying out those tasks.

Let’s look at some examples of “big picture goals” you might have as an ear training student:

  • Learn to recognise intervals in ascending, descending and harmonic form
  • Reliably distinguish diminished and minor triad chords
  • Finally learn the difference between all the types of seventh chord
  • Learn to jam along with music on your instrument

With all of these, if you simply think “I’d like to be able to do that some day” and dabble now and then, unfortunately you’re not going to make much progress. Ear training is something where regular training (ideally daily) really pays off – your ears get more and more attuned. Leave too long between practice sessions, and you’ll find you never really improve or reach your goals.

So rather than just airily dreaming of these goals… decide you are going to do them. Write them down. iAction makes it easy.

And then, here’s the real trick: Break them down into bite-sized chunks. Often the best approach is to split each goal into sub-goals, and then figure out some regular targets or occasional milestones which will track your progress on those sub-goals. Let’s see what that might look like for our examples:

  • Learn to recognise intervals in ascending, descending and harmonic form
    1. Practice ascending intervals up to a Perfect 5th [Daily]
    2. Practice all the ascending intervals in RelativePitch [Daily]
    3. Practice the descending forms [Daily]
    4. Practice the harmonic forms [Daily]
    5. Take a full test to check progress [Every Monday morning]
  • Reliably distinguish diminished and minor triad chords
    1. Practice Major and Minor thirds in RelativePitch [Daily]
    2. Practice Minor and Diminished root position triads in Chordelia: Triad Tutor [Daily]
    3. Practice Min. and Dim. triads (all inversions) in Chordelia: Triad Tutor [Daily]
    4. Take a full test to check progress[Every Monday morning]
  • Learn the difference between all the types of seventh chord
    1. Practice with Chordelia: Seventh Heaven [Daily]
    2. Read up on jazzadvice.com [Every Friday night]
    3. Practice listening to jazz records [Every Sunday, ’round midnight]

The text in square brackets just indicates how often you plan on taking action for these sub-goals. In the language of iAction, we’ve defined our 3 “long-term goals”, and then set up a few “short-term goals” for each one. We can set “events” for those short-term goals, which have a set time and can repeat. So they might be one-offs (e.g. “Pass the final exam on 25th June”) or regular (e.g. “Train with RelativePitch every day at 6:30PM”).

Three steps to success in ear training

So let’s take a look at one of our examples in detail, using iAction. Suppose we want to reliably distinguish diminished and minor triad chords.

Step 1: Define your goal

First things first, we’ll set our main “long-term” goal, “Master min & dim chords”:

Define your main ear training goal

Define your main ear training goal

Next we’ll break it down into “short-term” goals:

Break it down into sub-goals

Break it down into sub-goals

Step 2: Plan regular action

You’ll notice that glaring red text in the picture above – iAction wants to make sure we won’t forget! So let’s add events for these sub-goals. Because we want to make swift progress let’s train every day, and plan on one week for each sub-goal. We can always adjust these later depending on our progress:

Set up daily reminders

Set up daily reminders

Set up occasional events for milestones

Set up occasional events for milestones

Step 3: Train and improve!

Once you’ve set up your goals and events, you can rely on iAction to prompt you when the time comes, and remind you to take action. If you find yourself going off the expected schedule, no problem: you can adjust your goals and events at any time.

Aural Skills Development - all planned out

Aural Skills Development - all planned out

View your ear training agenda

View your ear training agenda

iAction is packed with helpful guidance in the app, and there are even a few surprises along the way to help keep you motivated! Find out more on the App Store page.

Don’t delay… Take action. (iAction!)

Probably the single biggest thing you can do to ensure your aural skills improve is to commit to regular practice. The way you practice may be with apps, downloads, online study materials or just some good old-fashioned active listening – but what matters most is that you stick with it, day after day.

We all wish we had will of steel and unflappable commitment, but the truth is we all need a bit of help to stay on track and reach our goals. iAction is a truly helpful assistant for reaching your full potential and becoming the musician you’ve always dreamed of being.

Competition!

The developers of iAction have given us 3 free copies of the app to give away to our readers! To enter the contest and win a copy of this app (worth $13.99) simply leave a comment below telling us your current ear training goals. We’ll choose a winner at random on May 9th.

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