If you have followed my previous posts on playing by ear, you have learned some tips to get your students identifying 2nds, 3rds, 4ths, and 5ths by ear and playing short phrases from familiar songs. Now it is time to encourage students to play some entire (short) songs by ear.
I find the best familiar melodies to start with are Christmas songs. The melodies are often short and simple, and students have sung them many times before. With the holiday season approaching, this is the perfect time of year to work on ear training with Christmas tunes!
Here is a list of several Christmas carols that you can use with your students. All are short and use repeated phrases; all use mostly intervals of a fifth or less; and all can be played in the key of C major by starting on the given note. As always, encourage students to sing and use their hands to determine the intervals before they play. More advanced students might also try harmonizing these melodies by ear using chords from the key of C.
- Jingle Bells (E)
- Jolly Old Saint Nicholas (E)
- Deck the Halls (G)
- Away in a Manger (G)
- We Wish You a Merry Christmas (G)
- O Christmas Tree (G)
What do you think? What familiar tunes do you use with your students to work on ear training?