Almost anyone can easily recognize even the slightest changes in musical notes. The challenge is knowing which note it is and where it is found on the instrument so that you can play a song like a pro.
People who have the ability to differentiate notes, and play music as and when they hear it, spend a considerable amount of time on improving their listening skills through ear training. Ear training or aural skills are usually taught as a part of music lessons through various music techniques and exercises.1
Music teachers usually work with their students to develop their relative pitch. People can develop their relative pitch or absolute pitch. Relative pitch is more common among musicians as it is comparatively easier to acquire.
A person who has a well-developed relative pitch can recognize notes in reference to other notes, whereas a person with absolute pitch, also known as perfect pitch, can identify a note without the need to see how it was played on the instrument or a reference note.
Both these abilities can be developed through training, and after gaining these skills, a person can play songs by ear just by listening to them. It is possible, however, to tell when a song is not in the original key if you have been trained to develop your absolute pitch.2
Developing relative pitch is more helpful for music students; it cannot be rushed as it requires a certain amount of time and regular practice to condition your ears to hear and recognize notes precisely. However, there are many aspects that help develop this skill, and some of the most essential areas that are taught to help with hearing music notes better are mentioned below: 3,4
Table of Contents
Interval Ear Training
This is the most fundamental ear training exercise and helps identify the note by comparing the difference in its pitch with another. Exercises to hear the differences between one type of interval and another, memorizing all the intervals in an octave, learning the intervals in the right sequence and in reverse, etc., are a part of this training. Learning how to identify intervals trains a person to reproduce melodies and compose music that sounds good.
Pitch Ear Training
There are many ways to train your ears to listen to the right pitch, and one of the most common is by playing the same note repeatedly while singing or humming along with it. This repetition helps register the memory of the sound by associating it with its name in your mind.
Chords and Chord Progressions Ear Training
This exercise helps you gain an understanding of which notes sound good together and also the range of emotions behind various chords. Getting good at this skill requires a person to listen to different chords and identify if they are in the major or minor key. It is developed by playing various types and combinations of chords and comparing them to each other to train your ear to identify them.
Scales Ear Training
Similar to chords ear training, various types of scales are played over and over again while being compared and memorized. Musical scales usually have 5–7 notes, with a note repeated at the octave. Training to identify scales is essential to creating chords, composing a piece of music, and recognizing the key of a melody.
There are other advanced types of ear training that are equally helpful in improving your listening skills and serve other purposes, such as audio frequency ear training, audio effects ear training,4 rhythm ear training, melodic dictation, functional ear training, etc. However, the ones mentioned above are the most basic exercises that are a must for beginners who are serious about learning music.
Improve your music skills with BYJU’S FutureSchool. Learn how to hear musical notes with the help of top music instructors from around the world and a personalized curriculum with 1:1 classes. Read more such blogs on music at BYJU’S FutureSchool blog.
1. What Is Perfect Pitch? | The University of Chicago. (n.d.). Retrieved July 13, 2022, from https://news.uchicago.edu/explainer/what-is-perfect-pitch
2. Ear training: how to train your ears like a pro. (n.d.). Retrieved July 13, 2022, from https://www.skoove.com/blog/ear-training/
3. How to Train Your Ear: 7 Ear Training Techniques – 2022 – MasterClass. (n.d.). Retrieved July 13, 2022, from https://www.masterclass.com/articles/how-to-train-your-ear#why-is-ear-training-important
4. Learn Musicality and Ear Training | Musical U. (n.d.). Retrieved July 13, 2022, from https://www.musical-u.com/learn/