Review of David L Burge Relative Pitch Ear Training Course

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by lhallam, Aug 8, 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 think you can buy the various levels of the relative pitch course separately although I wouldn't advise it.

    This post reviews the relative pitch course, I'll do another for the perfect pitch course.

    This course is geared for anyone who wants to improve their ability to hear and identify chords and notes in relation to one another. If you already have established relative pitch and can identify chords, scale & chord steps and intervals immediately, this course is not for you.

    Burge is very logical, excellent at explaining things and the courses are laid-out to maximize your learning. There are 5 levels each containing 8 lessons (8 CD's) except the first level which has 9. 41 lessons in all. You do not have to be able to read standard musical notation to take the course.

    This is an all or nothing course, pass/fail. You graduate with an A or don't graduate.

    Each lesson and level builds off the previous one. In the first level he gives a lecture on what relative pitch is and how the course works. He defines relative pitch as "the mind's understanding of what the ear hears". He then gives you exercises to teach you how to develop the ear. He insists that you work on the course no more than 45 minutes a day.

    Then it's testing and drilling. You must pass tests with zero errors and drills with one error or less. Later, you are not allowed any errors in any drill or test. At the end of each level is an exam that you must past perfectly before moving on to the next level.

    He starts off with Perfect 4ths and Perfect 5ths. You need to be able to identify the names of each interval, sing them going up and going down and identify them being played harmonically and melodically up or down.

    Then it's Major and minor 3rds and he keeps adding intervals up to a major 9th.

    He also teaches chord quality (major, minor, diminished, augmented), inversions (root, 1st & 2nd) harmonically and melodically up and down. You will be required so spell all chords in all keys. He includes 9ths, 7ths and 6ths (he may go to 13th's dunno, haven't finished the course) and alterations.

    You also need to identify scale tones, (5th of the scale, 2nd, 7th, etc) and chords in a scale (tonic, dominant, sub-dominant, mediant, etc). in all major & minor keys.

    You will be required to figure out songs like "Yankee Doodle" straight out of your head, (no gtr) and one exam is Bach's Two Part Invention in F where you have to figure bass and treble out by ear from his playing.

    How much time does it take? That just depends on you, some take longer than others. I've had to repeat drills and tests many times. BTW - It doesn't matter if you start to memorize the drill, that's part of the learning process.

    I highly recommend this course. It works. I can hear stuff that I never thought I could and can identify them instaneously.

    Is it work? Yes.
    Is it fun? Yes.
    Is it frustrating? Yes. (Sometimes I curse at Mr Burge)
    Is it gratifying? Incredibly.

    My complaints are few:

    I do find that because almost all of it is on piano, it takes some effort to transfer it to other timbres.

    It has taken me a LONG time to complete, I've still got 5 more lessons. That's not to say it will take you that long, I'm not a naturally talented person.

    The plusses far outweigh the negatives.

    The most basic thing in music is the ear. It is imperative that a musician knows what is going on in the music. There aren't too many painters that can't identify basic shapes but lots of musicians that can't identify basic sounds.

    It is very obvious that Burge is very intelligent and talented. He was able to do what four of my professors were not able to do in four years.

    Any questions, feel free to e-mail me or post them.
     
  2. Joe

    Joe Senior Member

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    Being on CD, it is repetative, which means you start to remember the third one was "major".

    I feel it is time Mr Burge gets w/ the program and do it as software so the testing is random.
     
  3. lhallam

    lhallam Member

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    Yes you do memorize some parts of the drills if you have to keep going back. The repetition is part of the learning process.

    Some drills are 5 minutes or longer, if you are able to memorize all of those intervals then you're probably on the road to a very good ear in the first place.

    There are enough drills such that it all sinks in.

    That's not to say that the random method isn't bad, I simply don't know.

    I can tell you that the course works.
     
  4. HammyD

    HammyD Supporting Member

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    :D Thanks for the indepth and thoughtful review. I believe I will invest the money in the realtive pitch course!

    I have been trying to make some progress with this simple, yet effective site.


    http://www.good-ear.com/servlet/EarTrainer
     
  5. Stephen Landry

    Stephen Landry Member

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    Thanks for the review, I've been interested in this for a long time but never dropped the funds. May have to now, as I desperately need some ear training!
     
  6. rpavich

    rpavich Member

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    Hi,
    I can also attest to the fact that this course works.
    I bought both courses when they were on cassette so you can see how long its been..lol...

    I only made it thru the relative pitch up to M6ths and stopped.

    It works so well that after a week, when hearing a door bell or other pair of sounds together; I'd yell out "Major 3rd"! (giving the answer...lol)

    I'm going to pull out the cassettes one of these days and finish!

    It's been over 15 years since I've done it and I can name all of the intervals I've studied in a millisecond. (again...up to Major 6th)

    I never opened up the perfect pitch one yet....just the first demo tape and that seemed a lot harder to "get"...

    I would recommend these to anyone without hesitation. (the only bummer is the price)

    bob
     
  7. spencerbk

    spencerbk Member

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    A question -

    How well do you feel this system works for identifying phrases?

    To put this in context, I've tried a number of CDs or websites and they're all good for drilling, for example, major 6th vs. minor 6ths in isolation and I'm pretty good up to an octave (better ascending than descending, which I understand is typical)

    But I'm really not very good at 3-5 note phrases, let alone much longer. Is this skill heavily stressed (you mentioned Yankee Doodle as an excercise - how well does it build up to that, or go beyond it - rhythmic variation, chords & lines, etc.?

    thanks in advance,

    spencer
     
  8. lhallam

    lhallam Member

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    He hasn't focused a whole lot on that per se. There are some drills where he'll play a pitch and you have to identify where it sits within a scale.

    For example, he'll tell you you're in the key of C and then he'll play all natural notes and you have to identify if it's the 6th degree of the scale or the 4th, or 2nd, whatever.

    He also does the same thing with chords in all 12 keys.
    Figuring out a Bach two part invention by ear is no easy feat.

    I still have not completed the course, I'm on lesson 36 and he's heavy into chord identification. 10 minutes of chords in a drill and you have to tell him what kind of chord it is with zero errors.

    He may get into more phrases within the next 5 lessons, I don't know.

    I was at a club recently and the gtrist was warming up strumming chords and I could tell instantly he played a maj6th to a dominant 7th to a minor, minor major7th. minor 7th then minor 6/9. I wasn't trying, I just could hear it. No way I could do that before taking the course. It's taking me forever to get through it. :( :eek: :)
     
  9. rpavich

    rpavich Member

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    Bravo....That makes me want to continue and see how well I can do...

    Thanks for the inspiration!

    bob
     
  10. spencerbk

    spencerbk Member

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    Well, that if that's a worthwhile achievment. Thanks for the reply ... I'm going to scope around and see if I can find anyone ever selling a used set of CDs as I'm on a student budget, but this could be worth full price too.
     
  11. Kappy

    Kappy Member

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    FYI, for some reason eartraining.com sells this course cheaper on ebay. I seem to recall it being at least $20. - $30. cheaper than they sell it on their site.
     
  12. Jerrod

    Jerrod Silver Supporting Member

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    Well, I'm a sucker... just ordered both from eBay for $275 incl shipping. If they don't work, I'm gonna come over and TP your house. :FM
     
  13. NeuroLogic

    NeuroLogic Supporting Member

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    How does the Relative Pitch course compare to the Perfect Pitch? I purchased the Perfect course and was very frustrated with the redundancy and very slow progression of instruction. Burge does have many good ideas but, his expression of them seemingly took forever. With a more concise presentation this could be an extreemly valuable course. Again, is the Relative Pitch more concise and to the point? All ear training is built on the process of intervals to chords. Burge's is much more expensive and takes a lot of time which I do not have or need as I absorbe this all quickly. Comments as to whether his fits my needs would be apprecitated. Thanks.
     
  14. Kappy

    Kappy Member

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    Mike,

    I think Burge is trying to be thorough in explaining all aspects of the theory behind what he's teaching -- and he's doing it for the broadest possible audience. I think if you were frustrated by the PP course, you'll be doubly so by the RP course, esp. if you already know theory, note names, chord formulas, etc. Also, this course would take anyone a good amount of time, so if you're looking to just brush up some, this probably isn't the course for you either.

    I think the RP's strong point is that the drills get really difficult in a very short amount of time. And you can't move on until you get them 100%. I think this forces you to learn the subject in a very ingrained way. But there's no quick way to be able to hear stuff like that. It takes lots of time singing and listening.
     
  15. Kappy

    Kappy Member

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    Good for you! May your ears grow large!
     
  16. Brewster

    Brewster Member

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  17. dorfmeister

    dorfmeister Member

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    I got the relative pitch and perfect pitch courses on e-bay for $100. I think it is worthwhile but it sure is slow going. I am listening in my car every day and I find I need to go through each cd many multiple times to get a furrow cut in my brain.
     
  18. Madsman

    Madsman Member

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    Burge blathers on and on in that Perfect Pitch course. There's some legitimate info in what he's saying, but he's so long-winded and explains things in a needlessly circuitous manner, which I believe is done to fill space. He could really condense most of the lessons down to a couple of minutes and be done with it. All the practice is still on your end.

    Almost everyone I know who has bought the Perfect Pitch course has given up on it because the way David teaches and speaks gets very irritating. Too much filler. I haven't looked into his relative pitch course, but I know how to work on that stuff myself anyway.
     
  19. fatback

    fatback Member

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    lost in the fog...
  20. Fndrbndr

    Fndrbndr Member

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    I bought both courses back in 1992, and started them both a few times...but never finished.

    I got them on cassette, which makes them practically useless to me now. :FM I'm in the process of ripping the 40+ cassettes to mp3 so I can actually listen to them in a convenient way. Great material in there...I'm hoping to go back and finish the Relative Pitch course by the end of this year.
     

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