Ear Training for Live Performance


Authored by Allan Chase


Course Code: OEART-215

Next semester starts September 23

12 Weeks

Level 2

Level 2

3-Credit Tuition


Non-Credit Tuition


To grow as a musician, it is essential to develop your ability to recognize what you hear on recordings and what others are playing in your band and then translate that to your instrument. Ear Training for Live Performance is designed to teach you to play what you hear more quickly, allowing you to interpret and respond to music with greater conviction and expression because you are more certain of the notes you are singing or playing. The course works to build connections between your instrument, your inner hearing or aural imagination, your voice, and music notation.

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The course begins by exploring the melodic possibilities of the major scale, using the solfege technique to identify scale steps. You will also learn to master basic rhythms in common meters of 4/4, 3/4, and 2/4, using conducting patterns to keep your place and subdivide accurately. The course then covers all the forms of the minor scale, the major and minor pentatonic and blues scales, and the modes—Dorian, Mixolydian, Lydian, and Phrygian. In each scale or mode, you will learn to recognize, sing, and play the common melodic patterns and tendencies of the notes. As the course progresses, it adds new rhythms, including syncopated and tied sixteenth-note and eighth-note rhythms, triplets, and swing rhythms. In addition, it examines mixed-mode melodies, using all twelve notes of the chromatic scale, and introduces polyrhythms.

The course uses the classic method of call and response—listening to melodic ideas, singing them in response, and then playing them, gradually building skills to recognize and play back more complex melodic ideas in all keys and scale types. You will practice identifying bass lines, melodies, intervals, scale types, and rhythms by ear, and then transcribing them. You will also perform melodies, rhythms, and melodic duets in a variety of keys and modes. The course features a number of creative ear training exercises, in which you write simple melodies and rhythms and sing or play them, or improvise a melodic idea and then identify the pitches and rhythms. Each lesson will also include sight singing of melodies and rhythms.

The course uses musical examples from many artists, styles, and eras, including John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Keith Jarrett, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, King Oliver, Bessie Smith, and other examples from jazz, blues, rock, R&B, folk, country, classical, and film music.

The goal of the course is to make you better able to recognize the notes and rhythms you hear, play what you imagine, write down musical ideas, and hear the sounds clearly as you read music notation. Performance ear training skills will make you a better performer, improviser, band member, accompanist, songwriter, composer, arranger, producer, and/or teacher.

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

  • Recognize, sing, play, and transcribe melodies and bass lines in any key and scale, including major, minor, pentatonic, blues, or modal
  • Recognize, perform, and transcribe all the common rhythms in all the common meters, including sixteenth-note syncopations, triplets, and swing rhythms in 4/4, 2/2, 2/4, 3/4, 6/8, and 12/8
  • Sight sing melodies and rhythms from notation (if pursuing the optional sight-singing track)
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Lesson 1: Building Connections: Inner Hearing, Voice, and Instrument

  • Singing Basics for Performance Ear Training
  • Workshop: Pitch Matching
  • Major Scales, Solfege, Your Voice and Inner Hearing
  • Workshop: Reviewing Movable-Do Solfege
  • Solfege and Inner Hearing
  • Workshop: Call and Response with Voice and Instrument
  • Workshop: Solfege and Inner Hearing
  • Rhythmic Vocabulary: Recognizing, Reading and Writing the Building Blocks of Rhythm
  • Workshop: Performing Basic One-Beat Rhythms
  • Workshop: Identifying One-Beat Rhythms
  • Assignment 1: Playing and Singing Major Scale Material and Composing Rhythms

Lesson 2: Major Scale Interval Exploration

  • More Major Scale Intervals: Indirect Resolutions, Bass Lines, and Leaps
  • Indirect Resolutions with V7 to I Accompaniment
  • Using Songs to Identify Intervals
  • Workshop: Major Scale Intervals and Patterns
  • Identifying Diatonic Major Scale Intervals and Patterns in Music
  • Workshop: Which Bass Line is It?
  • Expanding Our Rhythmic Vocabulary
  • Workshop: Rhythms and Rests
  • Workshop: Sight Singing Melodies
  • Assignment 2: Melodic Phrases, 3/4 Transcription

Lesson 3: Minor Keys and Cut Time

  • Minor Keys and Scales
  • Natural and Harmonic Minor Scales
  • Tendency Tones in Minor
  • Workshop: Warm Up
  • 2/2 meter: Cut Time
  • Workshop: Samba Rhythms
  • Assignment 3: Minor Key and 2/2 Rhythms

Lesson 4: More Minor Scales

  • Le vs. La and Te vs. Ti in Minor
  • Quiz: Identify the Type of Minor Scale
  • Line Cliches
  • Workshop: Identify the Line Cliche
  • Workshop: Sing a Mixed Minor Warm-Up Routine
  • Quiz: Identify the Minor Scale Type
  • Assignment 4: Minor Scales

Lesson 5: Minor Pentatonic Scale and the Minor Blues Scale

  • Minor Pentatonic Scales
  • Workshop: Minor Pentatonic Scale
  • Blues Notes and the Minor Blues Scale
  • Workshop: Sing and Play Blues Scale Melodies
  • Syncopated Eighth Notes, Ties, and Anticipations
  • Swing Feel and Syncopation
  • Workshop: Sing Syncopated Rhythms in 4/4, 3/4, and 2/4 While Conducting
  • Assignment 5: Pentatonic and Blues Sounds

Lesson 6: Major Pentatonic and the Melodic Language of Blues

  • Major Pentatonic Scale
  • Workshop: Major Pentatonic Call and Response
  • Major Blues Scale
  • Workshop: Major Pentatonic and Major Blues Scale Melodies
  • Mixed Blues Scales: Minor and Major
  • Workshop: Mixed Blues Scale Call and Response
  • Quiz: Identify the Scale
  • Mid-Term Sight Singing Exam Preparation
  • Workshop: Melody Practice
  • Assignment 6: Blues Tonality

Lesson 7: The Mixolydian Mode and More Syncopated Rhythms

  • Mixolydian Mode
  • Mixolydian Melodies
  • Workshop: Warm Up Using Solfege Ladder
  • Exercise: Call-and-Response
  • Tied 16th Notes and 16th-Note Syncopations
  • Workshop: One-Bar Examples with a Metronome
  • Assignment 7: Mixolydian Phrases

Lesson 8: The Lydian Mode

  • Lydian
  • Lydian Melodies
  • Workshop: Warm Up Using Solfege Ladder
  • Lydian Melodies from Real
  • Mixed 8th- and 16th-Note Syncopations, Ties
  • Workshop: Juke-Box
  • Exercise: Rhythmic Duet Etude
  • Assignment 8: Transcribe, Call-and-Response

Lesson 9: The Phrygian Mode, ♭II and Ra, the Spectrum of Modes

  • Phrygian Activity
  • Sing Phrygian Melodies
  • Recognizing Phrygian Melodies
  • Quiz: Identify The Mode
  • More Work On Mixed 8th-Note and 16th-Note Syncopations
  • Sight-Singing One- and Two-Bar Rhythmic Examples
  • Assignment 9: Record Yourself Singing Mixolydian, Lydian, and Phrygian

Lesson 10: Mixed Modes

  • Singing and Playing Mixed Modes in Melodies
  • Workshop: Melodies in Mixed Major Modes and Mixed Minor Modes
  • Recognizing The Sounds Of Mixed Modes
  • Eighth-Note Triplets
  • Workshop: Sight Reading and Sing
  • Getting Ready For Next Week's Sight-Singing Final
  • Workshop: Practice Quiz
  • Assignment 10: Compose and Perform

Lesson 11: Mixed Modes, Part 2, and Polyrhythms

  • Mixed Modes
  • Guided Warm-Up from Lydian To Phrygian
  • How to Improvise a Warm
  • Workshop: Listen to Mixed Mode Phrases and Sing Back
  • Quarter-Note Triplets
  • Quarter-Note Triplets and Mixed Rhythmic Performance
  • Introduction to 3:2 Polyrhythms
  • Assignment 11: Improvised a Warm-Up in Mixed Modes, Recording, Transcription

Lesson 12: Practice Techniques and Final Project

  • Chromatic Notes in Modal and Blues Contexts
  • Workshop: Sing Along with a Comprehensive Warm-Up
  • Exercise: Call-and-Response
  • Note-Chasing
  • Rhythms Review
  • Exercise: Perform a Comprehensive Rhythm Warm-Up with Accompaniment
  • Assignment 12: Design and Share an Ear Training Exercise and Final Project


Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements 

Prerequisite Courses, Knowledge, and/or Skills
Completion of Basic Ear Training or equivalent knowledge and experience is required. Your voice and/or a melodic instrument will be used throughout this course.


  • No textbooks required


  • 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 support@online.berklee.edu 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


Allan Chase


Chair of the Ear Training department at Berklee from 2008-2021 and currently a faculty member in Harmony and Jazz Composition, saxophonist and composer Allan Chase has appeared as a soloist on more than 60 jazz, pop, and classical recordings, in addition to several movie scores. Chase has taught a wide range of college courses in ear training, transcription and analysis, harmony, counterpoint, music theory, and music history, as well as ensembles and private lessons. He began his teaching career at Berklee in 1981, and has also taught at Tufts University and New England Conservatory, where he served as chair of jazz studies and dean of the faculty. From 1992 to 2000, he performed and recorded with avant-garde jazz drummer Rashied Ali, who is best known for his playing with John Coltrane. Chase has also been a member of Your Neighborhood Saxophone Quartet since 1981 and has released several recordings as a leader or co-leader of jazz and improvisation ensembles.

Dan Rosenthal



Contact our Academic Advisors by phone at 1-866-BERKLEE (U.S.), 1-617-747-2146 (INT'L), or by email at advisors@online.berklee.edu.

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