First Ear Training Exercise

Do you want to be able to listen to music and play it back? Do you have music in your head that you just want to get out? You want to develop your ears, but you’re not sure where to start.

Something I learned from a great teacher of mine was that it all starts with awareness. Building an awareness isn’t easy, but once you are aware, everything you do is a learning experience.

Let’s start with a very basic exercise that you can use to train your ears with your voice as a tool.

  1. Start by playing a note on your instrument. Choose a note that you think is within a comfortable “humming” range. Now try to hum that note. As you hum, play the note again and try to tune your voice to the note as closely as you can.
  2. Play the next note on your instrument and do the same. If you were playing a C before, play a D now. If you’re not sure what note it was, just play the note that you feel “comes next”.  Hum it and really focus on matching the pitch exactly. for our purposes, we’re not concerned with tone quality as much as just humming an accurate note.
  3. Now alternate slowly between the two notes. Going slow will ensure that you have time to tune each note. You can also try playing the notes along on your instrument as you hum them.


Conclusion: You can try this each day starting on slightly different notes. You will see a noticeable difference in your pitch recognition.

Extensions: You may extend this a little as well. Try humming or singing everything that you play on your instrument.  Your voice works very well to train your ears because a) it is connected directly to your ears and b) you know how to use it!

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