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How to Improve Your Ear With Training Exercises

Being able to hear effectively is one of the most fundamental steps to creating music. It’s as vital as having the ability to sing. Knowing how to play an instrument, reading music, and understanding what it takes to move a song from an idea into an actual track are significant tools to have under your belt. Training your ear is also an essential skill to develop and continuously improve, yet it’s not uncommon for artists to slip in this area.

When training your ear, you’ll know how to differentiate musical elements such as pitch and chord quality better. If you need to learn a song or you’re developing a composition of your own, a trained ear will help you pick up chords faster and have you on the path to hearing potential melodies. Like learning to play the drums or guitar, to maximize your hearing capabilities, you’ll need to practice consistently. Here are some exercises to help you along whether you’re singing to your reliable instrument or singing alone.

Identify Pitch & Intervals

An essential first step to training your ear can identify various notes and the space between them. Singing notes will ensure that your ear can hear the pitch. While knowing the space between notes recognizes intervals.

You can practice by singing with a tuner. This process of hearing a note, then pausing to imagine how that note sounds, will help you to sing then and refine your pitch. Singing to the digital tuner will help you to notice whether you are high or low. When you are familiar with singing and matching notes, then you can move on to playing and singing to the ascending sign. If you play the C note, then you can play the next E, playing both notes will help familiarize you with this Major interval.


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Find The Root Note

When learning how to hear chords, you’ll want to know how to recognize the root note. As the name would suggest, the root note is the first note in a chord and it’s the note others are built off of. Take A minor for example; it is a chord in which A is the note. As you’re training, play a piece of music on a piano and emphasize the root note to ingrain the tone in your mind. With root notes in your mind, you can listen to a tune with a simple chord progression and test whether you can identify the root notes involved.

Define Chord Quality

Once you know how to find root notes, you’ll be closer to figuring out the chord quality of nearly any song. Whether a chord is minor or major depends on its chord quality. The key will be to listen to more music, like a pop song that has three or four chords as a foundation. When looking try to categorize in your mind whether the chords sound have an upbeat, happy sound (significant) or a dark, downcast sound (minor). Switching between major and minor music repeatedly on your piano or guitar will further awaken your active listening skills.


Improving your ear means knowing how to also to improve your voice. Learn how to do so by reading up another How To Series here.