Basic Ear Training

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Authored by Roberta Radley, Matt Marvuglio


Course Code: OEART-115

Next semester starts September 23

12 Weeks

Level 1

Level 1

3-Credit Tuition


Non-Credit Tuition


Become a more interactive and confident musician by learning how to really hear what is going on in the band while you are performing. The course focuses on the melody and bass notes and examines the harmonies, rhythms, and pulses that drive and measure music. You'll learn to notate basic rhythms and pitch, and understand the relationships between notes by using the solfege method. Through transcription exercises and the study of contemporary songs from artists such as Dave Matthews Band, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, and Led Zeppelin, you'll learn to build an awareness of what's happening around you when you are playing, and build your confidence as a musician and performer.

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By the end of this course, you will be able to:

  • Conduct basic rhythms
  • Identify different time signatures and notate basic rhythms
  • Identify different key signatures and transcribe what you hear
  • Understand tonic, subdominant, and dominant relationships
  • Identify the difference between major and minor tonic
  • Identify primary triads in major and minor
  • Recognize A B elements in song form
  • Apply the moveable Do system to performance and composition
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Overview Syllabus Requirements Instructors
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Lesson 1: Conducting Basic Rhythms

  • Conducting while Singing Basic Rhythms in 4/4
  • Conducting while Singing Basic Rhythms in 2/4
  • Conducting while Singing Basic Rhythms in 3/4

Lesson 2: Identifying Different Time Signatures and Notating Basic Rhythms

  • Identifying 4/4, 2/4, and 3/4 Time Signatures
  • Notating Basic Rhythms

Lesson 3: Introduction to Solfege

  • Singing the Major Scale Using Solfege Syllables
  • Singing the Tendency Tones with Resolutions
  • Singing Basic Melodies That Include Tendency Tones
  • Notating Basic Melodies from the Literature

Lesson 4: Tonic/Dominant Relationships and Three-Note Scale Patterns

  • A New Scale Pattern for Your Warm-Up Routine
  • Singing and Identifying Dominant-to-Tonic Cadence Patterns
  • Reading Bass Clef Exercises

Lesson 5: Tonic/Subdominant Relationships

  • A New Scale Pattern for Your Warm-Up Routine
  • Singing and Identifying Subdominant-to-Tonic Cadence Patterns
  • Transcribing Subdominant-to-Tonic Cadence Patterns

Lesson 6: Tonic, Subdominant, and Dominant Relationships; Blues Form

  • A New Scale Pattern for Your Warm-Up Routine
  • Singing and Identifying Subdominant, Dominant to Tonic Cadence Patterns in the Blues
  • Singing Harmony Parts on a Blues Song

Lesson 7: Introduction to Notation

  • Review
  • Notating
  • Singing primary triads
  • Exercises in Basic Notation

Lesson 8: Becoming the Recognizer

  • Finding Do in the Key
  • Exploring Different Keys
  • Warm-Up Interval Exercises
  • Exercises in Interval Recognition

Lesson 9: Hearing Form

  • 12-Measure Song Forms with A B Elements
  • Explore Different Keys
  • Warm-Up Interval Exercises
  • Exercises with Riffs and AAB 12-Bar Forms
  • Exercises in Interval Recognition

Lesson 10: Relative Minor

  • Identifying the Difference between Major and Minor Tonic
  • Warm-Up Exercises in Major and Minor Pentatonic Scales
  • Exercises with minor melodies
  • Exercises in Major/Minor Recognition
  • Form Exercises: 16-Measure A B Recognition

Lesson 11: Relative Minor Primary Triads

  • Identifying Primary Triads in Minor
  • Warm-Up Exercises with Minor Primary Triads
  • Basic Notation Exercises with Primary Triads
  • Form Exercises: 24- and 32-Measure ABA AABA Recognition
  • Exercises in I IV V Recognition

Lesson 12: Putting It All Together

Students will complete a final project based upon the various skills they have acquired in the course.


Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements 

Prerequisite Courses, Knowledge, and/or Skills
Completion of Music for Beginners or Music Theory 101 or equivalent knowledge and experience is required. Students should have studied an instrument or voice for at least two years and have a knowledge of reading treble or bass clef. Please note that you will be required to sing each week and match pitch.



  • Students are required to record video while performing with a backing track for their assignments. Options for recording video include:
    • Smartphone
    • Digital camera
    • Webcam (using either video recording software, or the video recording tool that is built into the learning environment)


Student Deals
After enrolling, be sure to check out our Student Deals page for various offers on software, hardware, and more. Please contact with any questions.

General Course Requirements

Below are the minimum requirements to access the course environment and participate in Live Classes. Please make sure to also check the Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements section above, and ensure your computer meets or exceeds the minimum system requirements for all software needed for your course. 

Mac Users

PC Users

All Users

  • Latest version of Google Chrome
  • Zoom meeting software
  • Webcam
  • Speakers or headphones
  • External or internal microphone
  • Broadband Internet connection


Roberta Radley

Author & Instructor

Roberta Radley is assistant chair in the Ear Training Department at Berklee College of Music. A Berklee graduate with a degree in composition, she joined the faculty in 1976. Since then, Radley has taught a wide range of ear training classes, using innovative methods to help students hear music more analytically, and earning recognition for outstanding achievement in music education from Berklee.

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Coauthor of the department core curriculum Ear Training 1–4 books, as well as author of the Harmonic Ear Training DVD, Radley has traveled widely on behalf of Berklee, holding scholarship auditions, working with affiliated schools, and presenting seminars across the US and internationally. Additionally, Radley is an active performer as a pianist and vocalist, and is an experienced private piano and voice instructor. Read Less

Matt Marvuglio


Matt Marvuglio (1945-2017) was Dean of the Performance Division at Berklee College. As a virtuosic flutist and composer, he traveled throughout the United States, Europe, and Japan, premiering his compositions for jazz flute. He presented clinics for the National Flute Association, the Acoustic Society of America, and the International Flute Convention in Sao Paulo, Brazil. His composition "Simples of the Moon" for processed flute, EWI MIDI wind controller, and acoustic and electronic percussion, may be heard on the CD Divinations, by Dean Anderson. Matt's first solo album entitled Why Cry? features three of his own compositions and a number of interpretations of old favorites. His articles on jazz flute playing have appeared in The Instrumentalist. He was the curriculum editor and composer for the Berklee Practice Method series, and wrote and hosted Berklee's When Music Works DVD Series.

Cercie Miller


Saxophonist-Composer, Cercie Miller leads the Cercie Miller Quartet, a group nominated as “Outstanding Local Jazz Act” (Boston Music Awards) and “Best Local Jazz Act” (Boston/ Phoenix/ WFNX Best Music Poll). Ms. Miller attended New England Conservatory where she was a pupil of Joseph Allard, and was awarded National Endowment of the Arts Study Grants to study with saxophone masters David Liebman and Jerry Bergonzi. While still at NEC, Ms. Miller was a founding member of Your Neighborhood Saxophone Quartet. Ms. Miller has worked with many other artists including singer-songwriter Patty Larkin, jazz vocalist Lisa Thorson,  harpist Deborah Henson- Conant and vocalist Didi Stewart. The Cercie Miller Quartet has released two recordings to critical acclaim: “Dedication” (Stash) and “Blue Vistas” (Jazz Project). 

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Cercie Miller is a passionate music educator. Ms. Miller is Assistant Professor of Ear Training at Berklee College of Music. Ms. Miller is also Jazz-World Music Program Director at Wellesley College, where she is Senior Music Instructor of Jazz Saxophone, and the Director of Wellesley BlueJazz Big Band . Ms. Miller has taught Jazz History and Jazz Theory at Wellesley College, History of Jazz at Northeastern University, and received the Bok teaching award for her assistant teaching in Jazz History at Harvard University.  Read Less

Rich Greenblatt


Rich Greenblatt is a vibraphonist with "dazzling speed and a truly magical touch" writes John Blenn in 'Good Times Magazine'. He has recorded three CDs as a leader, ‘Hat Trick’(2009), ‘Hot and Dry’ (2003) and ‘Mooin’ (1998). Rich has performed and recorded with such great artists as Kurt Elling, Billy Mitchell, Dennis Irwin, Oscar Castro-Neves, Garrison Fewell, Kevin Hayes, Greg Hopkins, Winard Harper, Joe Hunt, Yoron Israel, The Barcelona Symphony Orchestra, and The English Chamber Orchestra.

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Rich is an Associate Professor at the Berklee College of Music. He is an endorsing artist for Musser vibraphones and Vic Firth mallets. Read Less

John Funkhouser


William Brinkley


Bill Brinkley is the developer and former director of the Center for Computer Aided Instruction in Music, Berklee’s first research facility investigating the use of computer technology in a music curriculum. A Berklee graduate with a degree in composition, Bill joined the faculty in 1976. During his 15 years at the college, Bill was also a highly respected professor, teaching ear training, solfege, arranging, harmony, jazz counterpoint, ensembles, and private guitar lessons, and authoring two jazz counterpoint courses and a music copying course. Bill started out as a rock and R and B guitarist in his native Georgia, eventually joining Motown to work with David Ruffin after the singer left the Temptations. He became one of Boston’s most proficient jazz guitarists, playing in numerous bands with top area musicians like Jerry Bergonzi, Grover Mooney, and Garrison Fewell. An in-demand music copyist and transcriber, Bill has worked for Harry Connick Jr., the Boston Pops, George Benson, Lyle Mays, and classical composer Thomas Oboe Lee. He continues to work as a musician, as well as a graphic designer and music technology consultant.

Paul Stiller


Paul Stiller is a graduate of Berklee College of Music and the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire. He has been on the Ear Training faculty at Berklee since 1995 and has taught Ear Training 1-4, Rhythmic Ear Training, Performance Ear Training for Voice 1 & 2, Voice lessons, and a choral ensemble.

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Aside from teaching, he has been an active adjudicator and clinician with numerous college and high school groups throughout the US and Japan.

He is a founding member, producer, arranger, and vocal percussionist for the a cappella group Vox One, which is comprised of all Berklee faculty.

He has opened for Stevie Ray Vaughan, Ray Charles, Atlanta Rhythm Section, Dwight Yoakam, Chicago, and the Woody Herman and Count Basie Orchestras.

Commercial work includes Sears, TCBY Treats, State Farm Insurance, Hood Milk, Pontiac/GMC, Superior Coffee, International Trucks, Sharp, and Dr. Pepper.

Paul received the 2012 Berklee Distinguished Faculty Award, and the 2013 Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award from the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire. Read Less


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