You don’t have to sit in a tedious aural theory classroom to improve your ear training. Everyday technology like the internet, your cell phone, video games, or even your car radio can help you train your ears to discern pitches, rhythm, and harmony. You can work on your music listening skills and have a ton of fun, too!

Sing along

Ever sing in your car? Practice matching pitch on your commute to work. Next time you turn on your satellite radio station, choose a station that has singable tunes. The station can have any type of music from the latest pop songs to country music to fun musicals to kid songs (I bet you didn’t know you could combine watching the kids with ear training!). Try to sing the words to the song. If you do not know the words, you can sing the syllable, “La”. Keep the volume level just below the volume of your voice. You want to be able to hear the pitch in your voice. As you sing, listen for the singer’s voice and attempt to match the pitch of the singer. Using a playlist from your MP3 player or a familiar CD can give you a chance to practice matching pitch to the same songs over and over until you sing like a pro.

Pay careful attention... while you rock out

Pay careful attention... while you rock out!

Rock Out

Popular video games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero allow you to sing into a microphone during gameplay. While most gamers just belt out the tunes just well enough to advance levels, you can actually use the game to work on ear training. How? Simply set the difficulty level to Hard or Professional then enter Practice Mode. Rock Band arranges songs by difficulty level. Choose simpler songs at first. Continue singing in Practice Mode until you have over 90% accuracy. The video game cannot determine if you say the correct words, but it can generally determine if you can sing in pitch. Invite your friends over next time for some video game fun and practice ear training.

Use Everyday Technology

Finally, your cell phone and the internet both have amazing tools that you can download to practice ear training skills. Anything from Relative Pitch for the iPhone to useful websites like Good Ear can help you work on intervals, harmony, melody, rhythm, and pitch. These music technology tools provide easy and fun interfaces which allow you to progress from simple to advanced ear training at a relatively quick pace.

Next time you want to work on your music listening skills – turn on your iPhone, pop in a favorite CD, or jam with your friends in Rock Band. Have fun with everyday ear training technology!

For more on matching pitch, learn about the singing-based approach of our Pitch & Harmony series.
Sabrina will be writing more about using Rock Band in an upcoming article!