The Pinetar Rag

February 10, 2013

Perfect Pitch

Filed under: Baseball,Canned Heat — mcgonnigle @ 9:41 pm

Perfect Pitch. No, not a spinless fastball. Pitch, as in musical pitch, as in 440 Hertz for A. We have a 66 key keyboard that is always in tune because it’s electronic. And we noodle on it and I have drawn the notes on it in Sharpie and drawn in the bass cleff and treble cleff and we are teaching our 5 yr old some basics and he has learned Twinkle, Twinkle and now, Pop, goes the Weasel. We don’t work at it too much but we have started.

A few nights ago, I was sitting at it and T was not looking at my hands and I hit middle C and asked him, “T, what note is this?” and he said matter of factly, “…that’s middle C daddy”. And I was surprised, as you can imagine. I did it again for several notes, right around middle C, but I skipped around and did not just ascend or descend by half steps or steps. He got like 4 of 5 correct. I was pretty amazed.

I quickly looked up “perfect pitch” on the net to see if it was something or other and it turns out that 1 in 10,000 people in the West, have it. But, in the East Asian languages, where pitch is involved, many more have it, so that would lead to the idea that it’s either heavily genetic and/or it’s “teachable” somewhat.

I know I don’t have it. I have fooled with the guitar for 30+ years and I have grudgingly built up my tin ear to where I can do SOME relative pitch stuff. “Relative” pitch is what most mortals have: you hear a reference tone, and then can hear tones relative to that one. Perfect pitch means that you can come in cold and identify the note.

I still didn’t believe that T had this. The next few days, I have randomly tested him. He is almost always correct for the notes around middle C, and that makes sense, as those are the ones you’d learn first. Having perfect pitch doesn’t mean you don’t have to learn them. You have to hear them and identify them as C, or D, or C#. So I’m seeing that it isn’t luck. I am varying my quizzes–there is no way he’s picking up a pattern. I am not leading him. He gets about 4 out of 5 right on average and can even guess black keys C#, F# etc, although, he’s stronger on the white keys, as you would expect. The further we travel away from middle C, up or down, the more likely he is to miss one. Today, I realized that I don’t think he has gotten any of the 4 or 5 notes around middle C wrong, in days. He knows them cold.

And I also noticed that now, when he misses one, he’s only off by a half-step or step at worst, typically. I am at the point where I think he has this. There is really no correlation to intelligence listed on the sites I looked at, so it isn’t that. It doesn’t mean a whole lot really any way you look at it, but to me, because I can’t do it (at ALL), it’s really magical and I still get the willies a little when he just matter of factly gets them right. A few days ago, I asked him, “T, when you tell me the letter, are you guessing? Or do you KNOW”, to which, he told me, “daddy, I just know”.

We’re trying to learn the intro to Let It Be (because that’s all I know) but his hands are too small, especially for the G chord after C, but he can do it two-handed.

I’m trying to get him to catch a nerf ball with a glove as T-Ball is only 2 months away but it is hard to get a 5 year old interested in repetitive throwing and catching. The best angle is to watch the Giants win the world series on DVR and then pretend we are Hunter Pence and Gregor Blanco and Buster Posey. As for hitting? He can hit lefty as well as righty, and I never tried to switch him, I swear–it’s double the work. He will hit the ball so hard lefty off the tee, that we will have to issue masks to the other boys and girls. I can’t believe he’s this old. It seems like yesterday that I came home from my nephew’s first tee ball practice and he had his first uniform (Giants) and he was so proud to show grandma. And then I spent the Spring trying to keep one kid from playing in the dirt while other kids were launching balls at him. Can’t wait!

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