Ear training is a very important area for you to learn, whether you play piano, guitar, violin or whatever. If approached correctly, working on it will give you lots of fun and fulfilment. It will make many things in music easier for you and you will have way more possibilities than you had before.
Sadly, often ear training is approached in totally the wrong way and as a result, students often get bored, frustrated and aren’t very focused during that part of lessons. If ear training is boring or frustrating for you, that is a sure sign that you need to change your approach for it. It should be exciting and invigorating!
In this article I will explain three different ways in which ear training properly done will help you enjoy music more. You will notice a world of music opening that you didn’t know was there before, even in music that you have heard many times before. If you previously thought that music was awesome, soon you will find it even more awesome and know why it is so. With that in mind, let me go to the first item.
You Will Notice More Details In Your Favourite Pieces of Music
Great pieces of music are like onions – they have many layers to them and they can make you cry. The comparison ends here and the layers are very different… In music the layers are not all alike and are not all self-evident. Some may require intentional listening to uncover, and still you will sometimes find it hard if you haven’t trained your ear to hear them.
Many of my students who I have given exercises to develop their ear at some point come and tell me something like: “Hey Jere, I’ve been doing the exercises you gave me and I realised today when listening to my favourite song that I can hear so many different parts in that music!” They are really excited that they can hear all this cool stuff going on in their favourite songs that they hadn’t even noticed before.
If you cannot hear many parts in your favourite songs, you are missing out. Most of these songs are designed to be catchy and invoke emotions in many different ways. If you only hear the melody, you will only ‘feel’ the music so much. Wouldn’t you rather be able to get everything you can out of the music you listen to? Then start training your ear with that goal in mind!
The best songwriters and composers have intentionally put lots of layers into their songs and as long as you only listen to one layer, you will be under-appreciating the songs. It would be like only using the first layer of an onion and throwing the rest into the garbage can!
Songs Stuck In Your Head Will Not Be As Annoying
We’ve all been there. Whether you’ve gotten an ear-worm from a song playing on the radio, a friend rick-rolled* you or you listened to a cool new song on repeat, a song stuck in your head will be frustrating – unless you can remember it in context.
A song stuck in your head is frustrating because you want to experience the whole song, but you can only remember the melody. Only being able to remember the melody of a song will feel incomplete. Train your ear to remember the rest of the song and you will start to enjoy songs stuck in your head almost as much as hearing them on speakers.
Another thing that is frustrating about songs stuck in your head is the constant question: “Why on earth is this song playing in my head?” The question which you don’t have an answer for will result you focusing more on it and getting frustrated because you don’t know. Well done ear training will help you understand why the songs are catchy and as a result you will find it easier to focus on something else.
If you want to destroy the power an ear-worm has over you and instead make it your servant to be called upon at will, start training your ear with that goal in mind!
You Will Start Enjoying A Larger Variety Of Music
When you started listening to music, you most probably had a few select songs, bands or genres that you like listening to and anything else was either boring or repelling. And as you started listening to more music, a lot of it slowly ‘grew’ on you. You started liking more songs, more bands and maybe even more genres.
This process of learning to like new music is much slower if your ear doesn’t know how to listen to them. That is why so many people initially think the band’s new album isn’t as good as the old ones. It isn’t as familiar! But once they’ve listened to as much as the old albums, the comparison starts becoming much more fair and accurate.
What I am saying is that ear training is a very diverse topic. There are many different styles of music with different emphasis on the area of music. As such they will require a different skillset if you want to get the most out of listening to them. The good news is that all these listening skills can be developed. The more you train your ear in the right way, the more you will get out of all kinds of music. You will start to understand them and you will learn to like some of them.
What Should You Do Now?
You now have three great reasons to get serious about ear training. The best way for you to develop it is to find an experienced teacher with a comprehensive approach to ear training. A good teacher is able to give you ear training that serves the purpose of making your musical life better and more enjoyable.
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About The Author:
Hey, I am Jere Toikka and I am a guitar teacher living in Turku, Finland. My dream is to teach people to enjoy guitar and music more than they currently think they can. Regular people can learn to play guitar and get a new hobby that is a lot of fun and improves their lives.
*[Ed] Rick-rolling is a prank and an Internet meme involving an unexpected appearance of the music video for the 1987 Rick Astley song “Never Gonna Give You Up“. The meme is a type of bait and switch using a disguised hyperlink. Those led to the music video believing that they were accessing some unrelated material are said to have been rick-rolled. (from Wikipedia)