Liberal Arts Blog — How Many Kids Could Have Perfect Pitch if You Started Ear Training Soon Enough?

Liberal Arts Blog — Thursday is Joy of Music Day

Today’s Topic: How many kids could have perfect pitch if you started ear training soon enough?

Well, how about almost perfect pitch? or how about a good enough ear to sight sing? My strong belief is that music is like language or pretty much anything else — the earlier you start the better. Remember the Heckman Curve? This is the most valuable chart to come out of a Nobel Prize winning economist ever. It charts the return on investment in human capital versus the age of the child. It starts very high and declines at a more or less steep slope. But better late than never. Time to share ear training tips. Today, I start with one of my favorite Wikipedia pages ever — one that matches musical intervals and songs. Check out the first link. If you hear two notes, can you tell if the second is the same as the first, higher, or lower? and by how much? do you know what the interval of a fourth or fifth sounds like? A good way to start to train your ear is to match each interval to the opening interval of a song you know well. This post has three parts — songs beginning with repeated notes. then songs beginning with ascending and then descending intervals. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.


(figuring out if it’s the same note or not can be harder than you think)

1. Jingle Bells

2. La Marseillaise

3. God Save the Queen

NB: America the Beautiful

ASCENDING INTERVALS — try to sing and feel the interval

1. major second: Freres Jacques

2. major third: Kumbaya

3. minor third: Greensleeves

NB: major fourth — Here Comes the Bride

DESCENDING INTERVALS — try to sing snd feel the interval

1. Minor Second — Joy to the World

2. Major second — Three Blind Mice

3. Minor Third — Hey Jude

NB: Major Third — Swing Low, Sweet Chariot

FINAL WORDS — check out the list of songs in the first link

1. Play with other intervals — fourths, fifths, sixths, sevenths.

2. Commit to one song per interval.

3. Repeat until the cement hardens.

NB: Whenever you hear a melody you like, try to figure out the intervals between the notes. Can you figure out what the “home” note is? That is, the “tonic’ or the “do”? Does the melody start on “do” or on “mi” or “sol”? I find these games devilish difficult. My dream is that kids get ear training early enough to a live a much richer aural life.


1. “Perfect pitch” — an estimated .01% of the population is estimated to be born with perfect pitch.

2. “Tone deaf” — an estimated 4% of the population.

3. Thanks to Vali for bringing the fifth link to my attention.

Interval recognition

Ear training

The Heckman Curve — The Heckman Equation

Perfect Pitch Might Not Be Attainable by Adults, But Here’s Two Learnable Alternatives

Absolute pitch


Here is a link to the last three years of posts organized by theme:

PDF with headlines — Google Drive


Time to share the coolest thing you learned in the last week related to music. Or the coolest thing you learned in your life related to music. Say your favorite song or songs. Or your favorite tips for breathing, posture, or relaxation. Or some insight into the history of music….Or just something random about music… like a joke about drummers. jazz, rock….or share an episode or chapter in your musical autobiography.

This is your chance to make some one else’s day. And perhaps to cement in your memory something important you would otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply than you otherwise would about something that matters to you.



Passionate about education, thinking citizenship, art, and passing bits on of wisdom of a long lifetime.

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John Muresianu

Passionate about education, thinking citizenship, art, and passing bits on of wisdom of a long lifetime.