You’re working hard on your ear training. Maybe it’s to recognise intervals and improvise on saxophone, or play chords by ear on guitar, or learn to sing in tune. Whatever your goal might be, regular practice is essential. If you’re putting all that time and effort in, make sure you’re getting the maximum results you can.
Here are 7 ways you can get more from your ear training practice and move faster towards your musical goals.
1. Show Up.
Personal trainers will tell you that 99% of the battle is making it to the gym. The first way to guarantee success in your ear training practice is simply to show up!
Sometimes that means doing it when you don’t feel like it. When you activate your will to move beyond your resistance, you’re building that “muscle” too. As you experience the fruits of your discipline, those times when you’re “not in the mood” will grow fewer and fewer.
2. Punch the Clock
Set yourself a regular, consistent schedule, and commit to keeping it. Frequent practices at regular intervals are much more successful than marathon cramming.
Think of a beautiful piece of music: an orderly flow of sounds–and silences! As your ears rest from processing one sound and preparing for another, so your body and mind must rest and assimilate the learning between each practice session.
3. Choose Your Destination, Then Plan Your Trip
Where do you want to go today? Look at your end goal, then break it down into small, manageable steps.
On your way, you may find a few detours. Don’t fret! Respond in the moment and enjoy the scenery.
For example if you find yourself mistaking a minor sixth for a major sixth, set yourself a “mini-objective” and give them some extra attention for a few minutes until you can distinguish them clearly again.
If you don’t make it as far as you wanted to in a particular practice session, just make a note of it and pick it up there next time.
4. Do It Again
You’ve listened and listened and listened: now you can finally hear that ii-V-I chord progression. This is when the real practice begins! Work it over and over until it becomes second nature.
Another benefit to repetition is that you’ll learn to love that interval or that chord progression even more! After 20 years of college classroom teaching, my same old jokes were funnier to me than ever (even if my students didn’t think so!)
5. Be Brave
To borrow an analogy from American football, sometimes you have take on the linemen if you want to tackle the quarterback. Warm up, yes. But once you’re game is underway, go after the hard stuff first, while you’re still fresh. With each victory, you will grow stronger! This is one of the 5 rules for studying music effectively.
6. Track Your Progress
Keep a progress journal so you can see just how far you’ve come, and plan for your next trip. And of course, what good is any vacation if you can’t share it with friends online! Instead of posting holiday pics to Facebook find yourself an ear training community that you can share with and who will be genuinely interested in and supportive of your progress.
Here’s another good tip: tracking streaks on a calendar will boost your motivation even further when you see how consistency brings progress.
7. Go to Bed
Whether you’re a night owl or an early bird, make time for your beauty sleep. Research shows that 7.5+ hours a night are optimal for the assimilation of knowledge. When you don’t sleep enough, the efforts of your training practice just won’t stick.
When you’re rested, you’ll be in a better mood, and your attention span and brainpower will be increased. The perfect ingredients for a rocking ear training session!
Think of your ear training practice as a gift to yourself. You know why you’re doing this, and you know the benefits awaiting you.
Any one of these steps will boost your ear training effectiveness. Combine them together and you will marvel at the worlds of sound opening to your ears. Your practice will transform from a daily duty to a deeply rewarding musical experience!
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