If you’ve done ear training for one instrument and are now starting to learn another instrument you might wonder how to transfer your listening skills from one to the other.

In fact, you don’t need to worry about this. You ear training skills will naturally and automatically help you with your new instrument.

If you have developed your ear for music based on one instrument you have taught your ear general musical understanding – and this is universal, applying across all instruments.

You will find that if you have a strong ear for harmony, for example, that will apply just as much on piano as guitar. Or if you’ve honed your sense of rhythm by playing drums, you will find that naturally comes out when you start playing bass.

There are some things to be aware of though:

Translating Your Ear Training

Ear training teaches you to hear more and understand what you’re hearing. When you change instrument you’ll find you still hear more – but your understanding might need a little “translation” for your new instrument.

For example, you might have learned to reliably recognise intervals when played on the piano. However, the timbre of a guitar is very different and at first you might find it difficult to recognise those same intervals on guitar.

Or if you have studied chord ear training on your clarinet using arpeggios, you might find some mental adaptation is required to start thinking about chords when all the notes are played together, such as on guitar.

Apart from these small translations, you will find your ea