Learning to play what you hear in your head is a great benefit of musical ear training.

Before doing ear training, many musicians feel like they can imagine amazing music – but then can not bring it out on their instrument.

To play the music you imagine on your instrument requires a combination of listening skills and instrument skills.

Ear training is about:

  • hearing more detail and
  • understanding what you hear

and both of these are essential for playing the music you hear in your head. There are three steps to follow if you want to be able to do this:

1. Hear in detail using Audiation

When we hear music in our head we are using our musical imagination. This skill is technically called audiation, and it is the starting point for being able to improvise music or create your own music.

You may feel like you are imagining music clearly—but unless you have spent time practising audiation, the chances are your musical imagination is actually quite blurry!

So step one in learning to play the music you hear in your head is to get better at really hearing that music clearly in your head. You must be able to “synthesize” the music accurately and in detail before you can hope to bring it out reliably using your instrument.

You can learn more about audiation in this article: “The Secret Music Practice Skill: Audiation”

2. Understand what you hear

In ear training we are often learning to attach names to the musical elements we hear. This helps our brain to create useful mental frameworks to really underst