How To Develop A Good Ear: Part II

First of all, thanks to those who read Part 1 of How To Develop A Good Ear.

Secondly, no, this won’t turn into a Rocky series leading to Part 20 or anything ridiculous like that. (Although I’d probably still watch Rocky 20 if it came out!) This is just a few more ideas for aural training that I find cool!

Keep your ear training interesting, fun and fresh with these 3 additional ideas:

Improvise On A Backing Track

While working on my improvisation skills, it’s extremely helpful in improving my ear to improvise on a backing track.

The Key: You don’t want to know the key beforehand. So, choose a backing track from YouTube, for example, but do not look at the key. Perhaps having someone else choose one and hit play for you is a good idea.

Then go for it! As you fish for notes that sound like they fit, you’ll start to gravitate to a key even if you’re not yet aware of what that key is.

After a minute or two, stop the track, but don’t look at the key yet! Write down the notes you know worked over the track. That should show you the key you were using.

Now double check the key of the track and hopefully you were in the same key.

Now, if you were jamming over a G Major track but were playing a Gb Harmonic Minor… Sorry. I don’t know what to tell you!

A Strange Strategy

In all seriousness, trust your ears and let them guide your fingers to the notes that work. I had a teacher who made an odd (but effective!) suggestion: Record a backing track. Then jam on it blindfolded. All you can rely on is your ears!

Melodies From Memory

Figuring out a melody from memory is another simple yet effective way I use to develop my inner ear.

  1. Choose something simple. How about “Jingle Bells”? (I know. It’s too soon to think about winter and Christmas. Summer just started!)
  • Sing the song best you can, or just hear it in your head a few times, or, of course, listen to a recording of it.
  • Choose a starting note – any note on your instrument. Then find the second, then the third and so on. Keep singing it to yourself or hear it in your head to remind your ear of the next note you need.

Don’t re-listen to the recording! This is all you. Go slow, be patient, and eventually you will figure out the whole melody.

For More Complicated Melodies

For more complicated melodies, listen to it many, many times and really internalize it. Memorize it. Hear only the melody. Tune out the rest of the song.

When you know it to the point you are sick of it, pick up your instrument and go to town. (Not literally “go to town”! We have ear training here at home to do!)

What makes this exercise unique is that we’re not referencing anything but our memory of the tune. We’re not re-listening every now and then when we get stuck on a note but hearing only in our heads or inner ear.

Everything Has A Pitch

Even my family gets involved in this fun, interesting and maybe outlandish exercise. Find the pitch of everyday stuff – the hum of the refrigerator, meow of the cat, chirping birds outside, buzz of the lawnmower, a person’s speaking voice, or the sound of the vacuum cleaner. You get the idea.

Everything that makes a sound has a pitch. Go find it!

I would very much like to hear from you all about some of the techniques or exercises you use to work on ear training! Please leave a comment and let us know!

Until next time! Keep working hard on those ears! Oh, and protect them!

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