Review of David L Burge Perfect Pitch Ear Training Course

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by lhallam, Aug 9, 2004.


  1. lhallam

    lhallam Member

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    Burge offers two courses, relative pitch and perfect pitch. You can purchase them separately or together, I paid $200 for both.

    This post reviews the perfect pitch course, my review of the relative pitch course is here:

    http://www.thegearpage.net/board/showthread.php?s=&threadid=46236

    The perfect pitch course is geared for anyone who wants to learn to identify by hearing and sing any named pitch without referring to an instrument. You will also be able to identify chords, notes within chords and keys of pieces more readily without referring to anything but your head.

    Burge is very logical, excellent at explaining things and the course is laid-out to maximize your learning. The Perfect Pitch Supercourse has 8 CD's plus there are 2 bonus cd's for a total of 10.

    You do not have to be able to read standard musical notation to take the course.

    There is a 40 day money back guarantee. I think he tells you that you should notice a difference within a shorter time frame if you follow his instructions.

    The course is largely a lot of lectures at the end of which he gives you exercises. You are not to spend more than 15 minutes a day on the exercises.

    He provides two methodologies for learning perfect pitch:

    1) with a partner - he says you will gain results faster this way

    2) by yourself - may take longer but it will work. Note: his earlier version of this course did not have much in the way of option #2 - beware if you are buying it used, you may need a partner.

    He explains what perfect pitch is, why it is useful, dispels many myths concerning the skill, and the various levels of perfect pitch.

    For example, level one is the ability to identify pitches on your native instrument, level 2 is the ability to identify pitchs on any instrument, level 3 is the ability to sing any pitch off your head. He explains what to listen for and exercises for training your ear.

    Every time I asked a musician including teachers how they hear an interval or if they have perfect pitch how they hear the tones,
    the answer was always the same, "I don't know, I just hear it". That is why some instructors do not know how to teach ear training.

    Most say that you have to be born with perfect pitch and dismiss you if you don't possess it.

    David Burge had an interesting experience. He began to teach himself Perfect Pitch when he suddenly realized that he already had it, he just didn't know what to listen for.

    Unlike my professors, Burge went through the transition conciously and was able to teach a friend what to listen for and she figured it out as well. You can read his account here:

    http://www.perfectpitch.com/chapter1.htm

    This is why he is able to teach it to others. He insists anyone can learn it. He has plenty of testimony and cites research done at universities at his website. His explanations at the site are better than what I am posting here.

    I was able to comprehend and hear what color hearing is right off the bat. I did not have a partner and followed his instructions
    rigorously. The color hearing seemed to come and go. Suddenly one night, I was able to hear all the pitches on the guitar as clear
    as recognizing the difference between peoples voices. I got 100% of them right for 15 minutes of drilling and it was so clear to me that I couldn't believe I couldn't hear it before.

    Alas, the next night I couldn't hear them as well. Burge says that this is to be expected however, I screwed up and stopped doing the exercises soon after. I still can play the open notes of my guitar and tune them close to pitch without a reference most of the time. I can hear that a note is flat or sharp.

    I am close to level 1 of pitch color awareness and have a way to go before attaining the highest level. I am planning to get back into the exercises.

    I can say without a shadow of a doubt my color hearing has grown, how far it will grow remains to be seen.

    Each person is different and the time it takes for results will vary.

    My complaint is that I think he should tell you up front about the partner thing. You don't need one, but it would be nice to know.

    You need to do the exercises on your main instrument which could be a problem for some folks.

    Burge says perfect pitch is the difference between watching black & white TV and color TV. When I told musician friends that
    I was taking this course, they were uninterested and asked me "why?".

    I played in a group with a blind keyboardist who could hear any note or chord or song once and play it instantly. That's where I want to be. Striving for musical excellence should never stop.

    Any questions or comments feel free to e-mail me or post.

    BTW - I am not affiliated with Burge in any way, these posts are my unbiased opinion and experience.

    NOTE: - It's years later, I basically gave up on it, however I'm still pretty good at getting close to pitch when tuning the gtr.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2012
  2. Boogs

    Boogs Member

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    thanks for posting that - that looks like a fabulous home course! i was convinced, upon seeing his ad, that he was a quack.


    ... something about his hair, i think... ;)
     
  3. lhallam

    lhallam Member

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    You may conclude other things after hearing him speak and all the "David L Burge" announcements but one thing for sure, the guy is sharp as tack and has cracked a code that people have said is impossible for centuries. Including a scientific report I read while working on my MIS that stated unequivocally one cannot learn perfect pitch. :rolleyes:
     
  4. Boogs

    Boogs Member

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    this is what i always believed! so it's not surprising that this guy shows up on the last page of Paste magazine with...that....hair..........saying he can teach us ALL perfect pitch, and i think he's a complete lunatic/con artist.

    ... but at least i never "stated unequivocally" that he was a wack job, that would have been out of line. ;)
     
  5. Shakkal

    Shakkal Member

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    Interesting ... does he suggest that there is any kind of age limit over which your ear cannot be trained anymore or it becomes more difficult? For example, lhallam, you seem to have obtained rather quick results, how old are you?
     
  6. lhallam

    lhallam Member

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    Burge says no age limit. There is no difficulty involved, you simply relax and listen. It has to come to you, you cannot make it happen.

    Some folks could be older and are on the verge of color hearing but simply don't realize it. For example, Burge talks about a piano tuner who always noticed that F# sounded "twangy" and would try to tune it out. As it turns out, he already had color hearing and didn't realize that an F# has a "twangy" color to it.

    I'm 49. I didn't tell you how long it took me and won't as I don't want to discourage anyone. I'm am not what I'd call a natural, everything I have attained has been through hard work and long hours. Burge says his friend caught on in short order, I did not.

    We're all different.
     
  7. Shakkal

    Shakkal Member

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    Thanks, I must have misread that ... but your post definitely got me interested in trying that method out.
     
  8. EricT

    EricT Member

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    Thanks for the review!
    Burge recommends taking the perfect pitch course together with the relative pitch course, what is your opinion?
    I'm thinking that relative pitch is the most important for a musician, and that perfect pitch is more of a "gimmicky" thing.
     
  9. lhallam

    lhallam Member

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    Yes he does recommend the two together. The reason I slacked off on the PP was to finish the relative pitch course, I just didn't have the time & discipline to do both and I had stopped the relative pitch to do the PP. So now I'm stuck on the relative course and need to get back into the PP. Can't win eh? :)

    I should follow his advice and do both! In fact, that's what I'm going to do, I'll get back to you on my progress.

    I get that a lot concerning the unimportance of PP. I agree with Burge that to be totally rounded you need both. They work together. If you are going to do one or the other, I'd to the relative pitch.

    When I was in HS we used to take 10 fingers and hit these clusters all over the keyboard and this PP guy named every note, he never failed. I want to be able to do that.
     
  10. EricT

    EricT Member

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    Just one more question, where did you get that price? On Burge's homepage it's $388 for both.
     
  11. lhallam

    lhallam Member

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    Looks like the price has gone up plus I got a special deal for having the original tape version. Sorry for misleading you.

    You've got mail.
     
  12. Kappy

    Kappy Member

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    Nice review.

    I just started getting back into the relative pitch cassettes that I bought in the early '90s (along with the perfect pitch ones, though I'm not really focusing on PP). I used the relative pitch tapes to graduate to level 2 (out of 5 levels) and I got sidetracked from completing it. I just listened to the "level 1 - lesson 8" tape again and I am reminded how thorough this course is. It includes singing intervals and knowing the names of all the interval notes, practicing the intervals by playing them on your instrument while singing and reciting the notes, writing the notes down on paper, hearing chords, etc. etc. This is really a stellar way to learn music at a deeper level. Couldn't recommend it enough.

    Though I've passed the drills on this tape before, I've gotten a little rusty. Out of about 30-40 intervals played rapidly either melodically or harmonically, I got about 3-4 wrong. I had a harder time with naming the notes because of my rustiness, but all in all I'm amazed at how well this stuff has stuck in my ears over 15 years of inactivity with it.

    I can't wait to progress into the other levels now.

    P.S. A good free web site for practicing some of this stuff is:
    http://www.good-ear.com/
     
  13. amstaf

    amstaf Guest

    Thanks for the info. I posted a question about this on Bam. I'm really interested in that. I just hate reading testemonials since they can be very vague. I'm going to check this out. thanks
     
  14. hear and play

    hear and play Member

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    Do you think it's brought you closer to to being able to play anything you hear in your head in real time?
     
  15. meterman

    meterman Member

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    Great link man, thanks for posting that!
     
  16. Kappy

    Kappy Member

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    No probz! Here's another: http://www.earplane.com/
     
  17. lhallam

    lhallam Member

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    Closer yes, arrived no.

    I am much better at hearing what other band members are doing and quickly interplay with them.

    The relative pitch course helps in this more than the perfect pitch course.
     
  18. carltonh

    carltonh Member

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    I got the course about 1994 or so. I started learning perfect pitch, and it was starting to work (I was doing it by myself.) However, learning it is like learning a new instrument. It can be done and takes time. I quit and have basically lost it all. Which is fine either way for me right now. I just don't find the time to do it. I never got further than using it to be able to properly tune my guitar by ear. I couldn't tell a note in a song, but if someone played a note live near me and sustained it, I could figure it out by the notes I had memorized in combination with relative pitch.

    It is neither quackery nor an epiphany experience, just more work that will be worthwhile to some but not others. The partner system may make it quicker, I didn't do that.
     
  19. Ah Xoc Kin

    Ah Xoc Kin Member

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    lhallam,
    Thanks so much for posting your review. I just found the Perfect Pitch Course for $70 and the Relative Pitch Course for $190 on eBay.
    They still have some left.
    I'm looking forward to improving my hearing capabilities.
    Once again, Thank You very much!
     
  20. daddyo

    daddyo Guest

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    Can you take the PP course first or do you need to start with the RP course?
     

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