Easy Ear Training students are always welcome to ask for help with their practice, whether as part of our ear training Crash Course or in our community forums. Here are just some of the questions we’ve had over the last month. Do any of their problems seem familiar?

Note: the questions have been rephrased to respect our students’ privacy.

Improving as a Singer

Singing ear training

Q: A simple question for you: how can I learn to sing better?

A: There are a number of techniques and exercises which can improve your singing voice. It really depends on which aspects of your voice leave room for improvement!

I’d recommend starting from our Singing page. You might also be interested in our new method for learning to sing.

Singing ear training

Q: I play guitar and sing and I would like to improve my singing. I have 90 minutes daily commute in the car to practice. What exercises are there that I can do that would help me with ear training?

A: It sounds like the best match for you would be our ear training exercise MP3s: Intervals, Chords and Chord Progressions. You can download these and then play them to practice singing and recognising musical elements. The interval ones will be most suitable for singing practice, but singing the arpeggios of the chords would also be helpful.

We also offer our book Ear Training Essentials as an audiobook. This is more instructional than practical exercises, but might be useful to help you plan your training.

Identifying and comparing the different sounds in music

Audio effects ear training

Q: I want some simple guidelines and maybe some practice exercises to help me identify, compare and learn from all the sound effects in music. I am interested in the physics/math, artistic significance and for my own composing and editing.

A: It sounds like you are mostly interested in audio effects, the different processes which can be applied (such as reverb, distortion, phaser) to modify the overall sound of music or instruments. To train your ears to recognise these different effects and their parameters I would recommend that topic page.

You also mention composing and editing so I think you might find our Song Writing and Composing articles interesting. It’s a different area of ear training but quite nicely complementary to the audio side of things.

When it comes to hands-on practice exercises we offer a range of training products and ear training exercise MP3s.

Training for the Studio

Audio ear training

Q: I want to train my ears for studio recording, mixing and mastering. Do you have exercise MP3s for EQ training too?

A: Although not part of our ear training exercises page, we do indeed have plenty of practice clips for audio ear training!

I would recommend working through our two series:

  1. Frequency Fundamentals
  2. Hearing Effects

You will find these provide a variety of sound clips which you can download and practice with.

Difficulty recognising chords by ear…

Chord progression ear training

Q: My ear is improving, but very slowly. I find it very difficult to distinguish between the C chord and Am.

A: Training the ear does take time and persistence – try to stay patient! If you find yourself getting frustrated it might be worth looking at these possible explanations.

If you’re having trouble distinguishing C major and A minor chords, there are a couple of things you could try:

  1. Firstly, if you aren’t already practising interval recognition, this would be worth some time. Learning to hear the individual intervals in chords helps your ear to recognise them more reliably. The major/minor interval distinctions may also help you tune into the major/minor differences in chords.
  2. Since C major and A minor are closely related you might find it helpful to study them in their natural environment rather than isolation. Doing chord progression ear training will introduce you to the hearing C major and A minor as the I and vi chord of the key of C and so help you practise telling them apart in progressions.

Applying Ear Training to Real Music

Ear training

Q: I have been helping my students with ear training and find that the hardest thing is to apply it in the context of performances to make it real rather than being a skill in a silo. Do you have some contemporary music that helps bring it all together?

A: We try to incorporate modern music wherever possible in the articles on our site. For example in our articles on 3-chord songs or our modern interval reference songs.

We also have offer ear training albums which teach intervals and chords using real musical recordings.

Trouble With Intervals

Interval ear training

Q: I have been listening to the interval ear training MP3s every time I travel between work and home for about a week now, and also using your apps and other apps. I am improving, but really slowly.

I still have problems with recognizing semitones and tones, even though I’ve played guitar for more than a decade.

A: Don’t get discouraged if you struggle with tones and semitones. As you’ll see from this FAQ, you are not alone!

I would recommend trying some of the tips in this article and explo