Do Re Mi Day is celebrated on 24 June and our resident musical expert K. Nagahashi would like to remind everyone that there’s no better time to obtain perfect pitch than the present.

Before joining the ranks of RocketNews24 writers, K. Nagahashi worked in the recording industry as a sound engineer. So, Do Re Mi Day has a special place in his heart and inspired him to write this article in honor of it.

Tips for acquiring perfect pitch that can only be done by children
By K. Nagahashi

Today, 24 June, is Do Re Mi Day. On this day in 1024 an Italian priest established the solfege (do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, do) as a way to learn musical scales. In honor of this day I want to talk about perfect pitch in which people can identify a note simply by hearing it.

They say only 1 in 200,000 people have this ability, so I’m going to introduce some tips to acquire it.

■ What is Perfect Pitch

First, here is a brief explanation for those unfamiliar with perfect pitch. By merely hearing a sound, people with this ability can pick out the note from the Do Re Mi scale widely used in Japan. For example, if I played “do” on a piano, such a person would be able to name the note without even seeing the key I pressed. Not only that but they do not need to compare the note to another; they only have to hear it once.

■ Advantages and Disadvantages

The benefit of perfect pitch is that you can accurately learn a song just by listening to it. In addition, you can transcribe the score of music you heard by ear alone and sing it yourself at exactly the right pitch. People with very well developed perfect pitch can even identify the notes of everyday items like vacuum cleaners and air conditioners in terms of musical scales.

However, such sensitivity can cause stress on a person with perfect pitch. Hearing ambient sounds of the city as a form discordant music from which they cannot escape has been said to cause mental anguish.

▼ Call the repair person. The AC’s a semitone off again.

■ Up to 7 years old

Previously, it was believed that perfect pitch was an innate ability that you were either born with or without. However, now it seems that there is a good chance people are able to acquire perfect pitch up to the age of seven.

However, past seven years old the chances of acquiring perfect pitch drop dramatically, and by age nine it is said to be nearly impossible to do so.

■ Contact with instruments is crucial

So how do parents get kids under seven to gain the ability of perfect pitch? Many people who have this skill said they gained a kind of “sound memory” by hearing or especially touching musical instruments as a kid. There are other stories of children getting it through the womb when their mother would play piano throughout her pregnancy.

Whatever the case, interaction with musical instruments is obviously a key.

■ Quizzes are effective

More specifically, quiz-style games are effective at developing the ability to identify individual notes. Much like how children learn to distinguish different colors they can also understand the differences between tones. So simply by hitting a key on a piano and asking a child what note it is either by “do, re, mi” or “A, B, C” can go a long way at giving them perfect pitch.

There are also several training apps for smartphones and tablets to make the experience more fun for young children. Taking the quiz yourself, using your own lack of perfect pitch, can also help motivate them as they find something they can finally beat mom and dad at.

In addition, in Japan, there are many music schools that offer perfect pitch training for young kids, at reasonable prices.

In summary, there are three points to getting perfect pitch:

1 – The person must be under seven years old

2 – Interaction with musical instruments is crucial

3 – Quizzes such as piano guessing games are very helpful

■ One in 200,000

It all seems really simple, but if it were that easy there would probably be more people with this ability than the one in 200,000 that I mentioned earlier. Remember, that everyone is different in their abilities and speed of learning so don’t push your child too hard if they aren’t getting it.

However, you also shouldn’t put off teaching your children about music as it does get harder with age, so why not make a start this Do Re Mi Day and find ways to unlock the hidden potential in your daughter or son.

Original article by K. Nagahashi
Photos: RocketNews24
[ Read in Japanese ]