What is Ear Training?
Ear training is the process of breaking down the elements of music into their simplest form and connecting them with the way we physically hear sound. Ear training for musicians includes skills like identifying pitch, keys, intervals, chord qualities (Major, Minor, 7ths), chord progressions, tempos, time signatures… The list goes on.
Why is Ear Training Important?
How well you play any musical instrument depends first and foremost on how well you hear. It is the most important element in becoming a good musician! Improving your aural skills has huge benefits that you’ll notice right away. It gives you the confidence to trust your ears and, in turn, become a more confident musician capable of playing more by ear.
Ear Training Exercises
Ear Training Exercises help you hone your listening skills for music and develop a well-tuned musical ear. There are many apps and other digital tools available to help you improve your hearing abilities. Perhaps one of the most important and effective things you can do is to remind yourself regularly to be a more ‘active’ listener.
EXERCISE #1: Identify Everyday Sounds
Ask yourself what you can hear right now? Through a window you may hear cars driving by, a siren, birds tweeting, an airplane above, a baby crying, or perhaps the wind blowing. Then ask yourself whether these sounds are low pitched (bass) or high (treble)? Or how fast or slow is a siren’s rhythm? Hear that bird tweeting? Can you sing or whistle the same melody (notes)?
Another easy exercise is to identify what instruments you hear when listening to music. Remember, voice is considered an instrument, both lead and background vocals.
EXERCISE #2: Identify Major, Minor & Seventh Chords
Of our 12 Major chords (A A# B C C# D D# E F F# G G#) each has a relative Minor and Seventh. The recordings below will help you recognize the differences between Major, Minor and 7th chords. Each chord will be strummed 3 times.
A vs Am
Notice the A sounds happy and the A minor sounds sad.
D vs Dm
Notice the D sounds happy and the D minor sounds sad.
C vs C7
Notice the C sounds happy and the C7 sounds unresolved and hanging as if begging for another chord to follow.
G vs G7
Notice the G sounds happy and the G7 sounds unresolved and hanging as if begging for another chord to follow.
EXERCISE #3: How to Work Out a Melody (Notes) By Ear. Click for video