Listen with your eyes closed.

Way back in high school one of my classes was band class, now this was not brass band but strings and wood wind. I was a cello player and very much enjoyed it but when it was time to sign it out to practice at home I had wished I picked the flute....I digress....What does the cello have to do with ham radio? Well back when I was in band class part of our testing was to listen to a recording of an orchestra playing and identify as many individual instruments as we could. Simple with violin, double bass, cello and clarinet. But the Oboe, Bass and E-flat Clarinet, Bassoon, Contrabassoon and then the Viola. Our teacher told us to close our eyes as we listened and it would make things much easier and over time it did. So you ask again what does this have to do with radio? For the past 6 months I have been on a mission to build up my copy speed of Morse code. I really did not like the code and had to learn it and I say "had too" because when I first went for my ham ticket the code was a requirement. I learned the code back then to later forget it once I obtained my ticket. I have come full circle to respecting and admiring the skill of Morse code. I worked very hard to learn the code and it's very true if you don't use it you loose it. I had lost it over time but in my mid 50's I started again to learn it and wanted to master it....have not got there yet but the challenge keeps me sharp. I am focusing on contest Morse code and my next challenge will be a higher speed QSO Morse code. I am at the point now (35-38 wpm contest code) that as my practice contest code programs spill the code at me I find myself typing the letter or number and looking at the screen on the PC to see if it's correct and then listen for the next letter. At 36-38 wpm looking at the letter to confirm is not an option I end up missing letters and not getting the call sign or exchange correct. Now at this speed of code I strongly recommend proper home row touch keyboarding and not hunt and peck the letters and numbers. As mentioned in a past post thank goodness in school I took typing and am able to touch type. As I struggled to hit the 35-38 wpm mark I remembered my music teacher...."close your eyes and listen" I did just that and my rate of copy went from 70% up to the 90's. I don't keep my eyes closed all the time and I feel it's just really helping me to concentrate on the rhythm of the letters and numbers. To close your eyes and listen sure does the trick for me.
Mike Weir, VE9KK, is a regular contributor to and writes from New Brunswick, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

5 Responses to “Listen with your eyes closed.”

  • Bill ki7hyi:

    I started playing drums in junior high.
    I had a cheap set of Pearls before they became commercial grade.
    I took orchestral music at school.
    When the teacher would send us into the practice rooms, I’d go into a room with a drum set, where I’d play things from memory until the teacher would come in and tell me to stick to the snare.
    I was taking lessons from a local jazz drummer at home and when the principal finally threatened to expel me for playing the set in the practice room, my mom told him to go ahead and she would hire a lawyer.
    Focusing on CW is like sticking to the snare, but very few are practicing FM on 2m and 440 these days.

  • Mike VE9KK:

    Good afternoon Bill and thanks for taking the time to leave a comment, its true there is lots to the hobby and CW is just one snare drum.

  • Nick AE0JW:

    I’ll have to try this, if I can find a good time to practice at home! Currently I’m listening to code during my drive to and from work, so “close your eyes” and ANYTHING is a BAD idea, HI!

    I’ll admit, I cheated both times- got my Tech-NC in ’94, and my AE-NC last year. I want to learn code because I feel like I “should”, but more than that, why bother having a set of drums WITHOUT the snare? A goodly portion of your ‘music’ would be MISSING!

    I’ll continue listening to my code practice programs on the drive, but I’ll have to carve out some time at home to close my eyes and listen, and maybe bang out some terrible practice on the old HD-1416. I’ll likely never even be seen in the rearview of your speeding 35WPM, but if I can keep up at 15 without irritating the listeners, I’ll be doing okay.

  • Mike VE9KK:

    Good morning Nick and thanks for taking the time to read the post and leave a comment. I too used to listen to code tapes as I drove to work and it was an hour’s drive so I had lots of time. There are all kinds of theories out there but I guess the trick is to find one that works for each person.
    73 and have a great weekend.

  • Ken ke4rg:

    Morse is an audible medium! When teaching, I encouraged my students to sit erect in a comfortable chair, feet flat on the floor, in a room with comfortable temperature. Good headphones are preferred, but silence is a must! Then close your eyes. Do not write anything down except demographics: frequency, call, time, name, QTH, RST, anything else you might want to log. Deprive yourself of every sense except sound. Then listen to GOOD code at 20 WPM, not slower.

    Once you have mastered instant recognition of the characters, listen live (usually less than GOOD code) or while you drive (lots of QRM and distractions from other sensory channels). You will be amazed at how quickly you will head copy 20+ WPM!

    73 es gl de ken ke4rg

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