Here are a few recent developments in the world of music and sound which might help inspire or guide you in your ear training!

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Music and the iPad 2

Apple recently unveiled their next-generation tablet, the iPad 2 – here’s a short overview of what the iPad 2 means for mobile music creation.

They also had a huge announcement for all iPad-wielding musicians – GarageBand, the easy-yet-powerful multi-track music creation tool, has now been released for the iPad -both the original and the new version. (Summary and video of the announcement)

The iPad has already been used for a variety of exciting new music creativity and music education using apps. Check out some examples of the iPad in the talented hands of musicians, ranging from school kids to professionals:

We’ve previously covered how you can use the Mac version of GarageBand for practising interval ear training, and also how to do rhythm training with this powerful music tool. We’re excited to see the two worlds combine now, and find out what possibilities the new GarageBand iPad app offers for the ear training student!

(Oh – and don’t miss the obligatory auto-tune Steve Jobs announcement song!)

Benefits of music in schools

It probably isn’t news to you that music education in schools is under threat in the US and the UK, so if you’re looking for information and evidence on the myriad of ways that music education and ear training can help you or your child in school, the find-a-degree site has put together a fantastic list of important benefits of music in our schools. They list 20 key benefits (including learning teamwork, relaxing, and developing fine-tuned auditory skills), each of which links to plenty more reading and evidence.

Exciting new animated opera, “Libertaria”

Site author and composer of our Unravelling Music training album Introducing Intervals, Sabrina Peña Young is embarking on an exciting and ambitious new composition project!

Over the next year she will write, cast, compose, record, mix, animate and produce a truly electronic opera, entitled “Libertaria”:

Libertaria: The Virtual Opera

Sabrina’s taking an innovative and cutting-edge route on funding the project too, using the collaborative funding site Kickstarter to gather supporters, who are then rewarded in a variety of fun and interesting ways for their contribution.

How the brain improvises music

As you’ll know if you’ve been reading around here on, most of ear training and learning aural skills is actually more about developing the brain than the ear. You’ll also be aware of important developing your aural skills is for musical creativity, improvisation and composition. This video is a fun overview of some recent research into how the brains of jazz improvisors and freestyling rappers light up when they’re doing their thing!

Charles Limb is a neuro-surgeon who’s been doing research into how the brain functions to improvise music and answer the question “How can the brain generate that much information, that much music, spontaneously?” He recently gave a talk at the TEDx Mid-Atlantic conference which is now available in full on YouTube (embedded below).

“We think[…] that to be creative, you have to have this weird dissociation in your frontal lobe: one area turns on and a big area shuts off, so that you’re not inhibited – so that you’re willing to make mistakes, so that you’re not constantly shutting down all of these new generative impulses”