We continually get interested ear training questions from students on our ear training Crash Course and in our ear training forums. Here are just some of the questions we’ve had over the last month and the advice we gave…
Major vs Minor 3rds
A: Don’t get discouraged! It’s very normal to get stuck on certain pairs of intervals as you develop your sense of relative pitch.
We have an article with some tips on major vs minor and some advice for successfully learning intervals here:
- FAQ: Is it better to master certain interval types before moving on to others?
- Why is ear training so hard?
Playing Concertina by Ear
A: The best place to start would be our Playing By Ear page and the Learn To Play By Ear series of articles. These will help to explain the different aspects of playing music by ear and how you can develop these skills yourself.
Playing Chord Piano Patterns By Ear
A: I would recommend checking out our Playing By Ear page. You might also find our Chord Progressions page useful as learning “chord piano” is the easiest route to satisfying, expressive improvisation, as well as helping you figure out songs by ear and play around with the pieces you already know how to play on piano. I wrote a bit about one way to do this here.
Struggling with David Lucas Burge Intervals
A: Do me a favour: please don’t for a second feel guilty or inadequate about your listening skills.
Interval recognition takes time to learn, and you need to find the right approach to suit you, which then makes it easy and enjoyable to progress. Of course, some hard work and determination is required, but if you’ve struggled so far I am confident it’s more because you haven’t found the right approach yet, rather than due to any failing on your part.
Although the David Lucas Burge course has its strengths and is a popular choice, many musicians we’ve spoken with (myself included!) found the course got off to a great start – but then once things become more challenging there is no support or any suggested strategies for overcoming the hurdles. This tends to produce a lot of frustration!
Before you go ahead with interval recognition I would encourage you to think carefully about your ear training goals. Intervals are important, but whether they’re the right starting point for your training will depend a lot on your goals and background. Start with this tutorial on planning your training and then this article on setting effective goals.
If you decide intervals are the right approach I would suggest starting from our Intervals page and particularly this article on the different ways to learn interval recognition. Then you can find specific resources on our site to help you start training.
Hearing the Chords in I-IV-vi-V Progressions
A: It can take several weeks to really get the hang of chord progressions and it’s important to follow a logical sequence like this suggested one so as not to overwhelm yourself.
If you haven’t already found them, we have some practice MP3s which might be useful.
For recognising the IV and V reliably, there are some great exercises in our video series by Brad Mavin which help you to listen out for the bass notes ascending or descending. It’s a bit guitar-specific but the concepts can be applied to any instrument.
Tuning a Violin By Ear
Then to recognise notes and play melodies by ear you will need to work on relative pitch and you’ll find plenty of free resources on our website to help with that.
Recognise Specific Chords By Ear
A: Yes, you can learn to recognise specific chords. This is a combination of:
- Chord ear training: to help you recognise the type of chord (e.g. major vs minor vs dominant 7th)
- Chord Progressions ear training: to help you recognise which chord in the key (e.g. I, IV, V7) it is
- Knowing the key, or using a reference pitch to identify the specific chords (e.g. C, F, G7)
Crash Course for Producers and DJs
A: Yes, it should help! The course is about the “big picture” of ear training and helps you understand how to do it effectively.
Some of the topics covered like intervals and chords may seem like musicians-only territory – but studying them will considerably improve your abilities as a producer too.
I would also recommend looking at these pages on our website:
Thanks to everyone who emailed in or posted questions in our forums this month, and particularly those we’ve featured above. I hope the questions and suggestions here are useful for your own training.
If you have any questions of your own please come and join our forums where you can get help from the Easy Ear Training team and other ear training musicians.
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