Ear Training

This one subject could fill volumes. I will attempt to focus on a few pieces of this puzzle.


Learning how to read music can help train your ear to hear the notes you want to play or write. Think of music notation as a language with a limited alphabet that can be arranged in unlimited ways. Single notes like letters can be grouped together to make chords, like letters placed together form words. You only have to learn 11 notes – and their various placements telling you what pitch they are. A low sounding C will look different on a page than a higher sounding C, and in many cases, that lower C will have a different fingering than the higher C.

The other part is the timing of the notes. You need to learn the values for all the different ways a note can look. A hollow note with a stem has a different value than a filled in note with a stem with a flag with a dot.

I may write out a two page manual on everything you will need to learn how to read music – but for now, am sure there must be tons of reference material on the internet.

Here is a place to start


I bring this up since I will be using some written examples to illustrate a few points. But even if you are not a “reader” , you will be able to figure out the examples.

Absolute, Perfect and Relative pitch

If you can hear a scrap of metal fall down and hear what pitches are produced, or transcribe a bird song or hear and name every note if someone falls into a piano, you have Absolute ( perfect ) pitch.

If not, Relative pitch is available for the rest of us.

There are many reasons to work on this, the ability to play what you hear, or play what your are mentally composing or to learn a piece of music and be able to play it in any key. And so on.

Take one note, The Reference Note, and memorize it, sing it, get the pitch. While you are doing this, we need to pick the notes of a major chord. For now, if you remember the the do re me fa so – the first 5 notes of a major scale -so the first note is 1 second 2 and so on. 

Note 1 and 3 is a Third

Note 1and 5 is a Fifth 

1 plus 3 plus 5 make a major chord.


Enough theory for now. 


Pick any note as your reference note and then sing the third of the reference note. Then try the fifth. Try singing 1 then 5 then 3 to 1 then 3 to 5. Keeping your reference note pitch in your head is the key to success. Couldn’t help myself with the “key”pun.


Here is a simple audio file of the example





You might need an instrument to check your pitch. Once your start hearing the pitches in your head and naming the notes or what number the note is and how far away they are from your reference note, then change your reference note and try it again. Then go one octave up – 8 steps away. Same note only higher. Or an octave lower. Or two octaves higher. In the example I am using 3 notes: C-E-G


Next time on this subject we will start adding other elements 




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