Ear training is learning to recognize the elements of music by their sound. It is built with the language of music theory. There are no muscles in the ear that can be strengthened and coordinated. Ear training is a matter of developing a vocabulary that relates to sound. This is a process that requires listening, thought, association, and memory.
Do you know a musician that can play by ear but cannot read a note? It is just as common to be good at reading music but unable to improvise or play by ear. Music lessons that include ear training and music theory work best and get results fast. MusicGoals provides drills that focus on the basic elements needed to develop musical language and understanding by ear.
The first step with an absolute beginner is to practice matching voice to a single pitch on an instrument. Singing simple songs along with piano or guitar is great fun and provides an opportunity to match voice with instrument. Sing along with a recording but, for best results, practice matching a single note from an instrument and listening for variations of sound when in or out of tune.
Solfeggio offers a way to learn pitch and scale position and can be done before introducing note reading. With solfeggio each scale degree is given a sing-able syllable: do re mi fa so la ti do’. Scale degrees are learned by their relative position within the framework of the scale.
The following drill begins with the three pitches shown and adds more as progress is made. For each example you must listen and play the pitch that you hear. Solfeggio as well as the shape notes shown in this example, are optional and provide the framework of the scale for reference.
The study of intervals goes along with the study of scales and music reading. It is the most basic and the most critical part of ear training. An interval is the distance between two pitches. Scales, chords, melodies, and harmonies are all made up of intervals.
Interval ear training builds a vocabulary for the sound of each interval. Each size of interval, that is the number of half steps between two pitches, has a characteristic sound. Interval ear training is putting a name on each sound and learning to recognize each interval instantly.
In this ear training drill you listen and play the interval that you hear on the guitar:
In the drill below you must listen and play a sequence of pitches:
In the following drill listen to the chord that you hear and identify it.
These are just a few of the 20 types of ear training activities included in MusicGoals Eye and Ear.
Musicians may rely on their best skills to cover their weaknesses but, MusicGoals will not allow this. Each element is drilled on the instrument, in notation, and by ear. Each skill is approached through several activities. For example, with interval ear training, the context of rhythm, harmony, and notation are removed. Intervals are drilled by learning them on the instrument, by naming them by ear, by playing them on the instrument, and by sight-reading.