(NOTE: This quiz is for both clawhammer and fingerstyle banjo players)
Learning how to play music by ear is perhaps the single best way to accelerate your progression down the timeline of musical mastery.
Yet, it’s also a subject clouded by a misleading body of mythology that leads many to believe that it’s just one of those things you are or not born to do. You either have the gift or you don’t.
Which is total garbage.
Yes, it is true that, in order to play by ear, your brain has to be capable of discriminating certain features from the music you hear. And it is true that parts of the neurobiological circuits that do so are genetically influenced.
But, what’s also true is that the majority of human brains are very good at pitch discrimination, and only small fraction of the population has a genetic condition that makes doing so difficult.
More than likely, then, you already possess all the neural machinery required to become a fluent by ear musician.
Specifically, the only prerequisite for being able to learn to play be ear is the ability to match a sound in physical space to one in mental space.
Or, more precisely, the ability to match the pitch intervals you hear with a mental reference.
And to play by ear any particular instrument requires that you’re able to match the intervals you hear on that particular instrument – in this case, the banjo.
So, in the quiz that follows, we’ll be testing exactly that: your ability to discriminate pitch intervals on the banjo.
Each question will contain two audio files of a particular melody played on the banjo. One audio example is correct, and one is not.
Click the box next to the choice you hear as correct. There are 10 examples in all, and I’ll meet you back with your results at the end!