The Senses Blog Series 1: Hearing  ramblings of a deductionist
[none of the pictures on my blog are mine unless stated otherwise]
Topics of Discussion:
Why the Senses?
Training your Ear
Situational Awareness with Sounds
Why the Senses?
I debated on what to write next on my blog for several weeks as I continued to build consistency in my own training and I have settled on a series about the senses. This idea came to me in one of my classes. We were talking about sound and pitch (this is a music class) and I started thinking about how sound can impact our awareness and our ability to train our awareness. This is true of all of the senses and I want to cover how we can train each sense in detail. (These will not be going back to weekly blogs as I still want to be able to be as detailed as possible and that requires time for research.)
I hope you enjoy!
Hearing is one of the senses that we might take for granted in our day to day lives. Of course we use it constantly, but we never really think about the impact it has on our lives. We use our hearing to understand communication, interpret incoming data, enjoy music, etc. There are many things we use our hearing for. If no one had hearing, life would be much different and we would communicate in different ways.
Because hearing is a sense that we use every day but take for granted, it is important to look at why we should take a minute to think about how we use our hearing and how we can train it to be useful to our deduction and situational awareness skills.
Training your Ear
Ear training… a phrase no musician likes to hear. As a musician, I know that the type of ear training I think of when I hear the term is different from what non-musicians might think I mean. I am going to discuss both the musical ear training as well as the non-musical.
Firstly, musical ear training refers to training in being able to recognize chords, intervals, pitches, etc. by simply hearing it being played. Specifically, in music theory class we would have rhythmic and melodic dictation exercises where we would be played a short piece of music and asked to write it out by ear. This is difficult alone, and much more so if you do not have a given starting pitch. Luckily for me, I have what is called relative pitch, which is the fancy way of saying I almost have perfect pitch but not quite. So disclaimer, my opinion on this specific topic may be biased by my pitch recognition abilities that I know not everyone has.
Some exercises you can do to train your musical ear can be easily found on youtube. All you need to do is search “ear training” and there are several videos on different subtopics that you can try. If you don’t know anything about sheet music or intervals and scales I recommend doing some basic research on that before exploring ear training videos. Some sub-areas that are good to train in are:
1. Interval recognition
2. Pitch recognition
3. Melodic and rhythmic dictation
Why do you want to learn how to have a proficient musical ear for deduction you might ask?
The answer is simple, if you know how to recognize certain musical intervals or are able to dictate a piece of music then you will also be able to transfer those skills to sounds you don’t recognize in everyday life. These skills also enhance your overall listening abilities and make you more aware of all of the sounds around you.
This leads into the non-musical version of ear training.
The non-musical version of ear training becomes much easier if you first know at least a bit of musical ear training. Why is that? Because every sound you hear is composed of a pitch of some kind. If you can recognize the pitch and/or interval, then you can narrow down the possibilities for what sound it might be. For example, most train whistles in the US have the interval of a diminished fifth, usually based around C#. This could differ in other countries and if you know what sound goes with what country then you will be able to recognize locations.
To train your ear there are a few exercises that you can do. Some of these include the dual listening exercise, the eyes closed exercise, and the random sounds exercise. (These may or may not be real, as in official, exercises- this is just what I do.)
1. The dual listening exercise: This is where you put one earphone in one ear that is playing loud music and put another earphone in the other ear that is playing something soft or something such as an audiobook. The test is to pay attention to what the soft sound is and be able to remember it. But, to take it a step further, you can also aim to be able to recognize what the loud music was as well as the soft sound.
2. The eyes closed exercise: This is an exercise you want to play in public areas where you won’t be in danger of running into things. What this is is walking around with your eyes closed and learning to navigate places based solely on sound. Yes I have done this, no I don’t know if I got any weird stares because my eyes were in fact closed. If you are worried about how you will be perceived by the people around you then you are training in the wrong thing. This is actually a really fun exercise to do because you really notice how removing a sense that we are so dependent on, such as the eyesight, can change your perspective of a space. This works really well for learning to recognize what sounds around you are as well as learning how to navigate spaces without sight.
3. The random sounds exercise: This is an exercise that you will need a friend for. You need said friend to take things in the environment and either bang them together or have them make some kind of sound with the object(s). You want to be able to recognize the sounds that any object can make without having to look at the items. This will be a good translation to knowing what is making sounds around you when being situationally aware.
Situational Awareness with Sounds
Next is the most important topic with “why you should train your ear.” This is the actual application in the observation and deduction realm! Use your ear training to become situationally aware with sound.
I have noticed with my early training (way back years ago) and with others, that when being situationally aware, a lot of what the focus is on is sight. Yes, using your sight can get you a ton of information about situations. However, if you don’t use your hearing to be situationally aware then you are missing so much more information!
Think of it this way: last time you were at a restaurant or a store that had music playing in it, could you name one of the songs that played? Could you even name the genre? Most people will say no to both of those questions. This is because our brains know this is supposed to be background information so we automatically tune it out. That is the source of the problem. We don’t need to ignore information that is right in front of us, and that includes sound.
Some ways to be aware of how much you may be ignoring sound is to test the theory that we tune things out in public settings. You can make a conscious effort to pay attention to sounds around you and it is literally like the world opens up at your ears. One of my favorite games (which I have mentioned before) is figuring out how many people are in the next aisle to me in stores. You can do this just by listening. In fact, you can take that a step further and make actual deductions about the people just by listening depending on the context!
Now keep in mind, I am not suggesting that you go into terminator mode in order to pay attention to every single sound around you. That is where your ear training comes in. If you train your ear then noticing sounds will come automatically and will not take much effort at all. It can fit right into your current situational awareness training!
To follow onto that, if you are being situationally aware of sounds then you can also use that as context for accurate deductions! As we know, in order to make deductions you need to take in everything about the situation around you to come to accurate conclusions. This includes sound!
So, in conclusion, train your ear!
Side note: If anyone is interested in an overview of music blog I am happy to write one. I didn’t include that in this blog because I wanted to highlight the explanation of why training your ear is important rather than explaining the specifics of how to train your ear. I could also go into more detail and give you some resources on pitches and instruments and different sounds. (Actually, I may just do that if you guys are interested.)
The Senses Blog Series 2: Specifics on Ear Training and Sound Reference Resources
The Senses Blog Series 2: Sight
I teach people inductive/deductive reasoning and related topics. Most of the information on my blog comes from my own experiences and observations but some of it will also come from various different sources and is just information I use. I don’t claim ownership of information from other sources.
I have been studying these mindsets religiously for a while now and have been practicing memory techniques since I was in the sixth grade. However, I too am still learning. So if you have any suggestions or comments that are helpful to others that I neglect to mention please do so in the comments. I do not claim to know everything there is to know about these techniques. This blog is for educational purposes for me and the readers.
There are several books on the topics which I cover in my blogs. I can send you my working book list if you would like to read them. If you are interested, message me.
Also, if you want a source for daily deduction practice material, message me.