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How to master interval jumps in the IFR singing practice

Hey David,

I am practicing the IFR exercise "Sing the Map" and I can move up and down the scale but I cannot yet make interval jumps and "wander freely". Should I just keep practicing moving through the scale? Will this bring about the ability to sing the notes freely one day? Or will this mechanical approach hinder my artistic expression?

Thank you,

David's response:

Hi Trevon,

Thanks for a great question. My main advice would be to avoid turning your singing practice into something mechanical. We're not just trying to learn how to execute the scales with our voice. The purpose of the exercise is for you to really get to know the sensation and the particular beauty of each note, because these are the raw materials of your art.

But you raise a good question. If you are only able to sing the notes in order, then how are you supposed to make the leap to wandering freely using interval jumps?

You just need to study the sounds in a way that gives you this freedom right from the start.

But how can you do that?

The key is to realize that you already have this ability within a small limited range. For example, if you were to limit yourself to just singing the notes 1, 2 and 3, then I'm sure you would be able to jump directly from note 1 to note 3 without getting lost. So within this tiny range, you already have the freedom of expression that you're longing for.

So now just start extending your area of mastery one note at a time. Try adding note 4, and stay with these four sounds until you can move freely from any one of them to any of the others. More importantly, stay with these sounds until you've truly come to know each one so that you can recognize it without hesitation.

The key is to give each element of our musical system your undivided attention for a little while.

Many people miss this obvious strategy because intuitively it seems like it would be too slow. How can I reach my musical goals if I only learn one new note today?

But in the entire chromatic scale there are only twelve notes. And the seven notes of the major scale are by far the most important. Just learning to recognize these seven sounds would enable you to play almost every song you've ever heard in any key on your instrument.

So if the whole key to understanding music is to learn to recognize these seven sounds, now does it seem like a waste of time to master just one of them each day?

Sing the Numbers 1: The IFR Tonal MapWe actually do a lot of this work for you in our audio course "Sing the Numbers". It follows exactly the strategy I'm describing and it uses beautiful songs and melodies to teach you the unique sound of each note of our musical system. We use this program with all of our private coaching students and it's amazing how their hearing and improvising have improved. So I think this course will really help you make the transition to singing freely.