If you have self-studied, as many musicians have, ear training may seem difficult or even impossible. It’s really not impossible or even that hard. There are only two things you need to study ear training at home.
- You need to be willing to invest time.
- You need to obtain a self-study course.
When you have done that, you may supplement your training with the many free exercises available on the Web, many of which are of very high quality.
What’s the Point?
There are many reasons for training your ear. When your sense of pitch (both relative and “perfect“) and tone is improved, it enables you to improvise, compose, and play with other musicians. No matter what instrument you play, ear training is critical.
It will also help you improve your sight reading skills – letting you compose, create, and play by ear. Without training, you will be permanently tied to sheet music or memorized songs.
Training will improve all of your musical skills, in both theory and practice. Soon you will find yourself jotting down songs wherever you go.
How It Works
Almost any training method you may choose will use the standard training methods that have been practiced for over 100 years. Typically, you will start by learning to recognize intervals and gradually progress up to full melodies, followed by rhythmic notation. After that, you will learn chords and chord progressions.
Whether you only take a beginner’s course, or follow a full path of study, any amount of ear training will improve your musicianship. Striving to complete a full course of study is, however, ideal and will open up areas of music you didn’t know existed.
There are many free exercises and drills on the Web, but you will get more benefit out of them if you first understand the theory, which is where a course or at least a good book will come in handy.
The types of exercises used are very simple. In fact, you can do one right now and see what it’s like.
1. Start by singing a major scale, all the way up and all the way down. If you’re not sure about pitch, sing along with a piano, or your instrument of choice.
2. Then, sing the intervals by name: 1-2, Major 2nd; 1-3, Major 3rd; 1-4, Perfect 4th; 1-5, Perfect 5th; 1-6, Major 6th; 1-7, Major 7th; 1-8, Perfect Octave.
See, it really isn’t that hard.
Which Course to Choose?
Courses such as Dave Burge’s Perfect Pitch Supercourse and Relative Pitch ear training cost a lot of money, but many people swear by them. If you have the money to spend, both courses offer a money back guarantee, so there’s really no harm in trying them out.
However, if you don’t have the money to spend, or prefer visual learning to just listening, there are a variety of software packages available to help you train your ear. Many of them cost less than $50.00 and some great ones are even free. You should have no problem finding one compatible with your computer’s operating system and your level of musical ability.
In the end, it doesn’t matter what course you choose, it only matters that you dedicate the necessary amount of time and patience to hone your skills.
If you are willing to make a serious commitment, you can’t help but be successful.