As musicians we know the power of ear training to gain the instinctive feel for notes, chords and rhythms in music that can enable us to play by ear, write music, transcribe, improvise and more. But ear training can be a slow, hard process, right? What if it didn’t have to be… What if it could be a game?

In 2010 a new website appeared promising a range of ear training games… That website was Theta Music Trainer and over the last several years it’s gone from strength to strength. It now boasts a range of 50 ear training games covering a wide range of core topics including chords, rhythm, relative pitch, audio EQ, and more. The games are now available on iOS and Android as well as in your desktop web browser – and they’ve helped over 50,000 musicians worldwide.

Theta Music Trainer is something we’ve continually recommended since it launched, including to members of Musical U who find it’s a great addition to the training we provide.

Back in 2010 we interviewed Theta Music founder Steve Myers about the site and on the show today we catch up with Steve and learn more about Theta Music Trainer and how their ear training games have been helping musicians develop their core musicality.

In this episode you’ll learn about Steve’s own ear training journey and what made him see the potential for ear training games online.

He shares the surprising thing they learned about who it is that uses Theta Music Trainer the most – and how that’s actually different in their home country of Japan.

And Steve gives his top tips for getting started with ear training yourself.

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Musical ear training is powerful but it can be slow, hard work. What if there was a better way. What if it could actually be a game?



I love how humble and down-to-earth Steve is, even after creating such a ground-breaking and popular product. You can really see how this was a project born out of a passion for improving the status quo and helping musicians.

Let’s recap the major points we covered.

For Steve it was ear training, and specifically relative pitch training that made the difference in his musical life and let him finally do the things he’d thought required a gift or talent.

Even once he discovered that possibility, it took over a year of ear training and then further years of practice alone and practice performing before he felt fully free – showing that although ear training is powerful it’s not a magic quickfix overnight solution!

His experience of ear training as being slow and boring inspired him to find ways to make entertaining educational games and see if ear training could be fun and exciting instead.

Despite appearances Theta Music Trainer is a serious tool, suitable for adults and older learners.

They found that users do need some guidance though! Every musician is different and so with 50 games available each musician will need a different subset and sequence of games to suit their musical life.

Because of this it’s proven popular in schools and with private teachers because the teachers can select the most suitable games for their students.

In Japan they have a better foundation of musicality in the traditional school system, so there is less demand in schools, and it’s actually more popular with individuals later in life.

One reason for the games being designed for short effective playing is that Steve noted the effectiveness of “a little and often” rather than big sessions and burnout for this kind of ear training.

So where’s the best place to start if you want to give it a try? Well, head on over to – you’ll find that link in the shownotes – and Steve recommends beginning with the “Pitch” games and then exploring from there to find the right selection of games for you.

Making ear training fun and easy using technology was really the origin of Musical U and Theta Music are pursuing that same important mission in a very different but equally effective way. That’s why I’m always happy to recommend their games and love to see the ongoing developments they come up with.

If you haven’t tried it already I definitely recommend giving Theta Music Trainer a try – fun games but serious skills. Or if you’ve tried it in the past and want a fresh reboot for your ear training why not go and check out their mobile apps or some of the more recently-added games.

Thanks for listening to this episode! Stay tuned for our next episode where we’re going to pick up on that question we touched on briefly of perfect pitch versus relative pitch.

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