People have different interpretations of what “ear training” involves, depending on their musical background. For example, a classical violinist probably has a different idea about ear training to a self-taught rock guitar player.

Here at Easy Ear Training we take a very broad definition:

Ear training is anything you do to improve your ear for music.

How does ear training work?

There are three stages to ear training:

  1. Hearing more clearly
  2. Attaching names to what you’re hearing
  3. Knowing how to use that in your music

Let’s look at each of these in more detail…

1. Hear more – and hear more clearly

As you work on any area of ear training, you are teaching your ears to listen for particular things in sound. This might be musical elements such as intervals, chords, scales, etc. or it could be aspects of the audio (such as frequencies, audio effects, how a song is mixed, etc.).

You normally get to know the elements in isolation, listening to examples, and then try to hear them in use in real music.

Over time you teach your ear to be more sensitive to these elements, letting you hear more rich detail in music and understand what you’re hearing.

2. Know the names

As your ears awaken to more detail in music, you need to start attaching names to what you’re hearing to keep things well organised in your mind and your ear.

What matters is that you have a label to attach to each sound you’re trying to learn to hear. For example, knowing the names of each type of interval lets you practice hearing each type and be very clear about which you currently struggle with and how you can focus your training to keep improving.

It’s important not to let yourself get overwhelmed by jargon! In a sense it doesn’t matter what terminology you use in ear training, as long as you’re consistent and the words you choose let you communicate well with other musicians.

3. Put it to use

The two steps above are rewarding in themselves. Once you can reliably hear the musical elements, music comes to life in a new way. Each area of ear training you work on will add a new dimension to your enjoyment of music!

When you know what they’re called, you can organise your own musical thoughts more easily, reinforcing those listening skills. And you’ll find it much easier to work with other musicians, by being able to express your musical ideas in conversation.

But ear training really becomes powerful when you take it a step further and learn to connect your listening skills with your practice of music.

That could be playing your instrument, writing songs and composing, or remixing music. Whatever form of musical expression you choose, you can do ear training in a way that empowers that expression, giving you more freedom, flexbility and confidence.

Similar questions answered on this page:

  • How do you do ear training?
  • What is ear training?
  • What are the steps in training your ear?