Rock Band 2Jam out with your friends and hone your music skills with Rock Band! Use Rock Band’s easy interface to practice pitch and rhythm. You don’t need to be a professional musician – even beginners can learn basic ear training using Rock Band.

1. Set up Practice Mode

Rock Band II and similar video games have an easy Practice Mode, which allows you practice a song over and over without worrying about bombing out. Be sure that your USB microphone is hooked up to your video game console. Choose Solo Player and Practice Mode.

Use the games Practice Mode

Use the game's Practice Mode

2. Start easy

Choose Easy or Medium Rock Band difficulty levels when you first begin. These difficulty levels are much more forgiving when you sing off pitch or fudge a rhythm. You also want to choose a simple song from the Warm Up List. Choose harder songs and difficulty levels as you improve.

3. Watch the dancing arrow

The arrow in Rock Band II shows you where your pitch is and where you are supposed to sing. Watch for comments like “Awesome!” or “Weak” as the phrases fly across the bar.

4. Adjust your pitch

Do you find that there are certain phrases that always trip you up, or that you are constantly singing off key? You may want to adjust your pitch. Listen to the original singer a few times before you try to match pitch. (Matching pitch means listening to a note being sung and then adjusting your own tone to the exact same pitch).

Use the on-screen feedback to adjust your pitch as you sing

Use the on-screen feedback to adjust your pitch as you sing

Is your voice higher than the singer’s or lower? Then find where you are overshooting or undershooting the pitch and make a slight adjustment.

Do you find that you “slide” between large melodic leaps? Work on hitting a pitch right on the money instead of gliding between notes.

Is the note outside of your range? Then try singing an octave below or above, depending on what is comfortable for you:

If you are really stuck, record your performance and play it back to catch mistakes.

5. Practice your rhythm

If the rhythm is tripping you up, sing on the vocable “La” instead of trying to read the complicated text flying by at warp speed. In fact, I suggest singing on “La” the entire time to really work on both melody and pitch.

6. Listen to the feedback and turn up the heat

At the end of a practice session, Rock Band II gives you back feedback in percentages. You want to aim for the most “Awesome!” and the least “Weak” or “Messy” comments as possible. Once you ace a song, change the difficulty level. When you can survive through an Expert level of a song, you have really mastered pitch and harmony.

Pay attention to your scores. Adjust the difficulty level if youre struggling.

Pay attention to your scores. Adjust the difficulty level if you're struggling.

7. Challenge yourself

Think you are a Rock Band singing guru? Try some of the nearly impossible songs at Expert level, or even try some newer editions of Rock Band, like the Beatles edition, which allows you and your friends to sing in harmony with each other.

Next time you want to practice pitch and rhythm, call up some friends, order a pizza, and pop in Rock Band II for the ultimate ear training experience!

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