top 4 ear training tips

The Top 4 Ear Training Tips

By Jason Hall
In Apr 26, 2022

Ear training tips are common. But not so commonly practiced. Training your ears isn’t exactly exciting as learning to play the Randy Rhoads Crazy Train solo. Let’s face it, many guitar players overlook ear training. In particular, the aural element is very important when it comes to ear training. You may be too shy to involve their voice in their playing, even if it’s just counting out loud during a practice session – who knows. It’s easy to overlook this element of musical development and only focus on learning geometric shapes across the fretboard. After all, aural and ear training seems rather obscure to anyone who hasn’t delved deep into it.

Ear training helped with my ability to translate an inner musical idea to my fingers. And that’s really what it’s about, or so I believe, doing so effortlessly, and without any real thought involved and just having it flow out” – Steve Vai.

I myself was guilty of this when I first started. I thought that simply knowing a scale shape on the fretboard would be all I needed to create awesome solos. But alas, it turns out that if you want to be able to easily transcribe music, analyze what it is in your favourite songs that make them your favourite songs, and perhaps most importantly, be able to do get your own musical ideas from your imagination to your fretboard, then having a trained musical ear is essential. Below are some of the ear training tips in which you can (and should) incorporate the aural element into your ear training practice.

Ear Training Tip 1: Transcribing

Actually listening carefully to the music you’re learning and trying to write down what it is you are hearing. This can be difficult at first but try to start with very simple tunes and build up from there, even if it means transcribing nursery rhymes. If you know how to read staff notation, then you can write your transcriptions on manuscript paper or a free notation software like MuseScore or Guitar Pro. The latter can serve as a great learning tool as it can play your transcriptions back to you so that you can check the accuracy of your transcription and adjust accordingly. You can also transcribe by your guitar tablature and simply trying to work out what it is you’re hearing on your guitar.

Ear Training Tip 2: Singing What You Play

This means singing every note you play. Whether the notes are part of a chord or played sequentially. Steve Vai Recommends playing a random note (e.g., C), then trying to sing the next note you plan on moving to (e.g., D) before actually playing it. If you continue to do this, you will eventually be able to sing along at the same speed as your fingers playing the notes. By doing so, this will allow your inner ear to command your fingers in the exact direction you want them to go.

Ear Training Tip 3: Singing intervals, chords, and scales

Being able to sing scales, intervals, and chords can greatly enhance your ability to play them on the guitar effectively. Not only will you know for sure whenever you play a dodgy note, but you will know which intervals within a scale sound great in any given moment and you’ll want to be able to use this knowledge to create effective licks and riffs. Being able to sing scales, intervals, and chords will also enable you to hear the harmonic devices being used in music of all kinds, which can greatly speed up the time it takes you to learn the music and master the style. It also makes learning music theory a whole lot easier when scales are not just notes on a page but music in your ears!

Ear Training Tip 4: Patience

Ear training is not for sissies. It requires patience and diligence to get right. Try not to get too frustrated when gauging your progress in aural development and trust in the process. In a similar way to bodybuilding at the gym, it may seem slow at first. However, the more you do it, the more the results begin to feel tangible and the easier it becomes to figure out which areas to focus on next.

I hope these ear training tips will help you as much as they have helped me. Comment below with your best ear training tips and tricks.

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• Currently a top music student at the University of the Witwatersrand • Can teach music theory up to grade 8 ABRSM. • Looks a bit like Kurt Cobain but can play like Jimmy Page • Can play the keys and guitar simultaneously • Gigs with a professional jazz quintet • Police clearance issued

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