I saw this article in this last month's SBO Magazine and I thought it was worth sharing with those who maybe don't get that magazine.
Article: Turn Off the Tuner for Better Ensemble Intonation
In this article Si Millican plainly speaks to the concept of making the students use their ears to tune rather than the wheel or needle of a tuner. For years I have been working this concept with my students and I have seen a dramatic change in their tone quality and their performance. At that time I was using a CD that sounded a drone of perfect 5ths in all keys for students to listen to and match. Recently, I moved schools and one of the first purchases I made with my new budget was a Yamaha Harmony Director 200. Those who work in my district asked me why I bought it and how I use it. When I saw this article, I thought it put together all of the reasons I believe in using the Harmony Director into one article so I immediately shared it with them.
You don't have to have a fancy keyboard to work this idea, though. Sometimes, when I don't have access to my Harmony Director, I will play the note on my instrument (trumpet) for the kids to match. This will remind them of the concept of unwanted beats in the sound and begin to make them want to fix it.
I so appreciate the way Dr. Millican provides a basis for this idea of listening rather than seeing to tune in his article. In my next blog installment I will share some ways that I have used the 5th CD and the Harmony Director Keyboard with my classes to work the students' ears to become independent tuners when they play.