How to learn piano ear training

Getting Started With Ear Training

What Is “Ear Training” and Why Is It Important?

Simply put, ear training is training your mind to hear and understand relationships between notes. At Hoffman Academy, it’s something that is integrated into our curriculum from the very beginning. As your ear training develops, you will be able look at the notes of a piece of sheet music and have a good sense of what the music will sound like before you even play it.

Over time, you can train your ear and memory to recognize different musical elements, such as intervals, chord types and chord progressions, so that they can be recalled or anticipated when practicing or performing. Want to learn songs by ear, or develop the ability to quickly play a chord progression or melody that you heard on the radio? It all starts with simple ear training.

How to Get Started with Ear Training

  1. Have a friend or family member play a simple melody of two or three notes on the piano. You can limit them to a small range of notes in order to keep things simple – for example, the C major pentascale. Make sure they play a pattern they can remember, in case you need to hear it again. Don’t look – just listen!
  2. Try to play back what you hear on the piano. If you’re having trouble, try asking yourself: Are the notes moving up, down, or repeating? Do they sound close together or far apart?
  3. Switch roles and see if your friend or family member can figure out what you played!

Hoffman Academy Premium also has an online game called Mystery Melodies, which is a great way to see what different musical patterns look like on paper. If you have a fun game or idea for ear training, tell us about it in the comments section! 

Further Reading

Am I Tone Deaf?

Developing a Musical Ear

Singing for Musical Development

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