There so much ear training information out there that trying to work out which ear training techniques to use can be completely overwhelming.
Fortunately, if we really look at what’s going on in all those different techniques we can boil them all down to three fundamental ones.
And once we understand those three fundamental ear training techniques it’s much easier to decide where and how to focus our ear training energy.
So read on to find out the things you ought to know about ear training techniques.
What are the two fundamental ear training techniques?
The two fundamental ear training techniques are:
1. Listening to individual sounds and committing them to memory
This makes up a huge portion of ear training. The focus of these ear training techniques is simple: you listen to a sound (it could be a chord, a scale degree, and interval or a bunch of other things) and try to commit that sound to memory. Here at Ear Training HQ we call this process internalisation (because you’re creating internal representations – memories – of those sounds).
With repetition you’ll build a vocabulary of sounds that you’re able to hear and identify – this vocabulary of sounds will soon become the foundation of the great ears you’re working to develop.
2. Listening to sounds you’ve memorised and trying to recognise them
Once you’ve learned a few sounds you can start practicing recognising them. Simply listen to them randomly and try to recognise each one.
These ear training techniques develop speed and confidence. It’s like practicing with your newfound vocabulary so you know it back to front.
3. Trying to reproduce sounds that you’ve learned from memory
The third technique is essentially the reverse of the second one.
Instead of hearing a sound and trying to recognise it you try to recreate it without hearing it.
So for example, you might try to sing a passage of scale degrees that you’ve written (it might look like this – 1, 5 6 2 3 1) out by recalling the sound of each from your memory.
The purpose of these exercises is exactly the same as the purpose of the second technique – to develop speed and confidence with your newfound musical vocabulary.
Which ear training technique should I focus on as a beginner?
If you’re starting out with ear training or you’re focusing on any new sounds you’ll want to start with the first technique. Focus on internalising/memorising sounds to build that vocabulary.
Once you’ve started to build the vocabulary you can add the second and third techniques to consolidate it.
Which ear training technique is best?
None of them are better than the others. They each help in a different way and you’ll get the best results if you combine all three (like we do with our courses here at Ear Training HQ).