If you struggle with ear training, this blog post and video will provide you a lot of help. Check out my 5 Best Ear Training Tips guaranteed to get you feeling more confident as a musician.
As I outlined in my Who Needs Music Theory blog, ear training is another bugaboo that can be super intimidating to musicians of all ages and stages. In this blog/video, I break down my five best tips that will help you to get a better handle on what ear training is and how you can roll up your sleeves and start to build your ear training skills. Let's do it!
What is ear training?
Ear training is the ability to understand and recognize what you are hearing when you are listening to music. This means:
- Recognizing intervals
- Recognizing chord qualities - major, minor, etc.
- General ability to hear music and be able to play it or write it down.
Ear training is absolutely learnable and something that you can work on without needing complicated books or even apps.
Here are my 5 best tips...
Ear training tip #1: Learn to find notes on the piano
The first thing you will want to do is practice singing a note and finding it on the piano. This might seem challenging at first, but I recommend you spend a few minutes every day singing random notes and trying to find those notes on the piano.
You can also listen to sound around you (a car horn, a bird tweeting, a note from a song) and find those notes on the piano as well. This will help you develop a stronger aural understanding of pitch. This leads us to..
Ear training tip #2: Learn to play tunes on the piano
Once you are able to find notes on the piano, take a few minutes and try to pick out tunes on the piano. Start out with a simple song like Mary Had a Little Lamb or Happy Birthday.
You'll likely start out making a lot of errors, but you are making big strides in learning to play by ear. Once you get better at finding the little tunes, experiment with trying to pick out longer tunes, or more complex songs. It's a lot of fun and will really help your musicianship skills!
Ear training tip #3: Clap rhythms
The next step in building your ear training is to practice clapping the rhythms of songs. This will help you to better tune into rhythms and will build your memory of rhythm in general.
Ear training tip #4: Sing Sing Sing Sing Sing
If you want to get better at ear training, I strongly recommend that you sing all the time. This will help you get a better handle on pitch and will physically connect you to the music you are hearing.
Need some help getting started singing? Check out this 15 minute vocal warmup video!
Practice singing along with your favorite recordings, but don't just focus on what the lead singer is doing. Try singing:
- the bass line
- the guitar part
- the background vocals
- clap/vocalize the drum grooves
- the hook
Every time you sing, you are building a stronger sense of ear training and it will pay dividends in your musicianship!
Ear training tip #5: Invest in Solfege training
If you've been having out here long enough, you know that I am a huge believer in all things solfege, as it is a proven method for developing pitch intelligence and a deep inner ear connection into how notes function.
In my Ultimate Guide to Solfege post, I outline all of the amazing reasons that Solfege can improve your musicianship skills.
Ear Training has a high ROI
I strongly recommend that every musician, no matter what age or stage you are at should invest in ear training skills. These skills will make you have a much easier time learning music, remembering music and connecting with other musicians.
Crash Course in Piano Skills for Singers is a gentle, no-fluff, let's-get-this-done piano course that is based on the principals of my bestselling Piano Skills for Singers courses.
The course runs live on Zoom Thursday, June 1st at 1pm ET and Friday, June 2nd at 6pm ET and you can come to either day or both (same workshop both days).
You'll get access to the live 90 workshop, a downloadable course book and 21 day access to the replay. A STEAL at only $72.
Learn from master teacher Brenda Earle Stokes, who has helped hundreds of singers all over the world to build real skills in piano.