Two critical ear training exercises you must master
It is very obvious that having a good ear is important for all musicians, but it is especially important for guitarists to consciously train and focus on this. As guitar players we don’t get any automatic help in ear training from our instrument. Pianists always get aural feedback while playing as they play melody and chords together. This forces them to listen to their playing and automatically train their ears. As guitarists we don’t have that luxury. We also have the “disadvantages” of the fretted instrument. This means that we don’t have to create the note every time we play. We place our finger somewhere between the frets and the fret will take care of the rest. In fact as guitarist we can play guitar all our lives without really listening to the notes we are playing.
This article outlines two of the absolute best and most critical ear training exercises that will help your ears get caught up to speed with your fingers.
Start by listening to individual scale degrees
This might sound strange, but listening to individual scale degrees is, in my experience, the best way to supercharge your ear training progress. If practiced in the right way, over time this will give you the ability to hear and replicate any melody you hear in your head or other places instantly. In my experience, the order in which to train them in is the minor third, then the fifth of the minor chord and then the root of the minor chord.
For an in-depth look at how to train this in the right way, take a look at this video:
Of course you will have to do this with all other scale degrees. In my experience the easiest way to go about this both in major and miner scales is to start with the third, followed by the root note, then the fifth, the 7th, then the 4th and lastly the 6th. You might find that another way works better for you and that is fine, but start out in this order and change things if you feel the results would be better that way. You will be very surprised at how fast you will be able to improve in this area.
Harmonies are two or more notes played together. It can be hard to differentiate the notes in a harmony. Chords are build by individual notes that all have a specific function within the chord. Having the ability to recognise and pick out these individual note functions will make you able to pick out complex extended chords by ear. The way you train this is by listening to two notes at the same time and try to pick them out by ear and hum/sing the notes. If you can listen to a note and sing the exact same note, you know that you have heard the note correctly and that the notes have been processed by your brain. This is very important in terms of actually learning this stuff. To know how this is done, watch this video:
Once you have done this with two notes at the same time, move on to three, four or even 6 notes at the same time. This will be really challenging, but it will greatly improve your aural skills.
Having a good ear is crucial for you to feel satisfied with your guitar playing.
About the author: Janus Buch specializes in Learn to play guitar in Vejle. Kids of all ages can learn how to play the guitar. All they really need is a spark of guitar desire and great guitar teacher. I cannot create desire for the guitar, but if the desire is there, I will take care of everything else needed to transform your kid into a killer guitar player.