All Levels


iOS Apps by justinguitar

The JustinGuitar Store


Buying things through the links below cost you no more but contribute a little to the site! Thanks, J.


Justinguitar - Free Guitar Lessons

Ear Training Basics Ear Training

Understanding why you should do something is more important than doing it. Make sure you question everything people tell you (including me!) and you will be your own musician. In this lesson I explain why I think Ear Training is so important.

Common questions are answered below. I recommend reading all the material in these lessons before you start doing any exercises - so you know the how and why and can put it to good use.

Nearly all of my private students get onto ear training as soon as they are ready. It can be helpful right from a beginner stage, but usually I leave it until people are at an intermediate level, or just as people finish the beginner stage.


Why develop your ear?

Well put simply, hearing music is one of the most important aspect of being a musician. Understanding music is very important. When you develop your ear you can hear things in the music that non musicians (or non ear trained musicians) can't. You can hear the chords clearer, even tell what type of chord it is or what the notes are, what scales are being used and you will start to recognise what certain notes sound like when played over certain chords.

It also helps a great deal when you start to transcribe solos, you get a better understanding of what is going on and often leads to being able to work out a few notes at a time, rather than just doing it one at a time.


Before you start

When you first start you will need some clues as to what the intervals are. The easiest way is to look at some notes in songs. I have a whole list here as a lesson for you to check out. For example, the first two notes in Happy Birthday song is a Major 2nd interval (simplified to just 2 - or a second). This means that it is the first note of a major scale followed by the second note in the scale.

By learning all the intervals that start the related songs you will soon be able to tell what the relationships are between notes. This is very useful for a number of reasons. Say you are trying to work out a song. You know the first chord is an F chord and when you listen to it you can hear that the distance between the chords is a 2nd. you know that the next chord is a G. Easy. Well sort of. It takes quite a while to get good at it but in time you can really hear stuff pretty clearly. Sometimes I even work out songs in the car without a guitar, just by listening, and that is cool.


Start easy...

Make sure that when you start you start with Diatonic Intervals (that will be Unison, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and the Octave). Try the tests here first and then go and have a try out on the sites listed below.

Start with just a few intervals - just leave ticks on the intervals listed, so that the program will only give you the the selected intervals. I have selected just a few intervals for each stage. You don't want to start with all of them - it will probably just be too much, and put you off. Better to get some confidence with the easier ones.

Stage 1
Unison, Perfect 4th , Perfect 5th,

Stage 2
adds - Major 2nd, Major 3rd

Stage 3
adds - Major 6th, Major 7th, Octave

Stage 4
adds - minor 2nd, minor 3rd

Stage 5
adds - minor 6th, minor 7th, Augmented 4th.


Regularity is the key

Most importantly, try to do it regularly. Just doing it every now and then won't help a great deal, try to do a little often and you will soon find yourself hearing music with totally fresh ears. Using theJustinguitar Ear Trainer App you can do your interval ear training anywhere you want, so there are no excuses now :)


Sing, Sing, Sing

(As Fran Healy once said...) The other key element to getting good at ear training is by singing. If you a bit self conscious or scared to sing, try when you are home alone and no-one can hear you. Please try it, you might surprise yourself and have an excellent voice! If you can sing it you can usually figure it out - it is also a fantastic technique to use when transcribing - if you can hear a note, start singing it while you try and find the note on the guitar.


Well... what are you waiting for?? get stuck in :)

Lesson ID: ET-001