Sharks and Dolphins (Ear Training)

Here’s a fun, no prep way to work on ear training.

What You Need:

  • Nothing


  • Nothing

How to Play:

  • First, we talk about the movie Jaws. None of my students has ever seen it, but some of them have heard of it. Many have heard the main theme, which is only two notes a half step apart. The two notes repeat, first slowly and then gradually gaining speed as the shark approaches. It is said that when John Williams originally discussed it with Steven Spielberg, Spielberg laughed because he thought it was a joke.
  • After showing the students how easy it is to play the theme, we talk about how different it would be if Williams had used a whole step instead of a half step. I call this the theme for an approaching dolphin. It’s not nearly so threatening.
  • Once the students understand the difference, it’s time to play. The student turns away or closes their eyes while I play either the shark approach (with a half step) or the dolphin approach (the same thing with a whole step). The students’ task is to call out either “Dolphin” or “Shark” for each time I play the theme in different registers.
    • Many students have no trouble with this. If they are having trouble we talk a little more about which version has a higher note. That sometimes helps. Even if it doesn’t, they have a 50/50 chance of getting it right, so even the kids who are not getting it, feel like they are doing all right, which is important.