Today is your opportunity to take a FREE test that lets you know IF and TO WHAT EXTENT you have the ability to improvise. In a previous Blog, I indicated that there is one gift you need to possess in order to improvise. So . . . what is that one gift? It’s the gift of “Relative Pitch.”
In short, “Relative Pitch” is the ability to relate a given or reference pitch to some other unidentified pitch. There is more than one method for testing for Relative Pitch. Using our test method you will need two things: 1) Find a friend, preferably somewhat musical, to check and tally your responses. 2) You must be at your instrument (piano, trumpet, violin, etc.) when taking the test.
I will play a note on the piano such as Middle ‘C’, and I will tell you what note I’m playing. Feel free to play that note on your instrument if you wish. Then I will play a second note and ask you to match it on your piano or instrument. If you play any other note, even slightly, before sounding the correct note, the response is considered incorrect. Your friend will tally your responses to come up with a final score. The more correct responses you have, the stronger is your sense of Relative Pitch.
You may take this test every month or so if you wish. If you are playing a lot or following our suggestions on how to improve, you should see your scores increase because “Relative Pitch” is very relative. It can be cultivated. The process is much like learning a foreign language. You begin with nothing. As an infant you learn a few words, eventually stringing two or three together. This is much like two or three musical intervals that form a phrase. Just as some words are challenging, so are some intervals. Notes that are close together (short intervals) will be quite easy. As the interval width increases, so does the challenge, much like three and four syllable words.
Like an expanding vocabulary, your “vocabulary” of recognizable intervals will stretch. Along with this will come the ability to improvise; that is, when you play three or four notes in succession, you will hear each note correctly “in your mind” before you play the keys. No more surprises. That is the essence of “improvising.” Ready for the test? Let the fun begin!