It can be annoying when you look at the musicians around you and some have much better ears than you.

Is it nature?

Or nurture?

Were they born “gifted” with amazing musical ears…

Or did they work hard to achieve them?

In most cases, musicians who have significantly better ears than their peer group (for example the 12-year-old who can transcribe complex music by ear, or the jazz saxophonist whose improvisations are significantly more impressive and musical than the others in his class) have had better ears from an early age.

There are a number of factors which influence how good your ears are at understanding music, and how effectively you put that understanding to use in your music.

Factor 1: Early music education

There is some debate over whether musical ability is genetic, but one thing is clear: a child born to musical parents and raised in a way which promotes music learning and enjoyment of music will grow up more “naturally musical” than a child whose upbringing does not feature music.

It’s rare that a musical prodigy appears without some family history of musical talent. In most cases the children of composers are raised playing instruments from an early age, and encouraged to expect that they will become great musicians. These children grow up surrounded by music and plenty of opportunities to develop their musical ear, and by the time their peers get started learning music they are already years ahead of the curve.

When you next meet a musician with impressive ears, ask them whether they had much music education growing up. You’ll probably learn that they came from a household filled with music!

Factor 2: Dedication and Determination

For those who don’t have a “he