One of the best things you can do as a beginning guitarist is to train your ears. Ear training lets you listen to music and determine what is going on within, allowing you to recreate a tune by playing it or writing it down in musical notation. You will need a good guitar to help you develop this skill. There are several acoustic guitars under $500 that not only sound good but play well too.
What is ear training?
Ear training is the process of sharpening your aural skills. Developing a good inner ear involves being able to connect music theory knowledge (chords, scales, notes, pitches, melodies, intervals and others) with the sounds that you hear. When you train your ears, you essentially build a bridge between the chords, scales and other aspects of the language of music and the sounds that are designated by that language.
When you are able to train your ear to understand and recognize the connection between theory and sound, you increase your musical aptitude and guitar playing skills. This is because you can better understand the music, its dynamics and chord structures, and you will be able to anticipate what’s coming next. You will be able to decipher the different components of music just by listening, and this is important if you want to be a good musician.
Benefits of ear training
Aural training also allows you to do the following:
- Tune your guitar without the use of a chromatic/digital tuner
- Play what you hear on a recording, even without using sheet music. You can play anything by ear!
- Become more creative and be able to improvise
- Improve your rhythmic skills
- Develop your musicianship
- Learn new songs faster and more easily
- Play a tune or the sounds you hear in your head when composing music
- Transcribe chords and melodies by ear
- Make jamming more fun because you can interact with other musicians in a more spontaneous manner
- Improve your sight-reading skills – you will be able to tell what a piece of music sounds like just by looking at the notation
- Sing in the correct pitch
- Become a more efficient guitar player
Ear training tips
There are several ways to develop your aural skills. There are apps, software and courses you can take specifically for ear training. You can take a look at these different methods and explore which one works for you. To get you started with developing your listening skills, here are some tips to follow.
- Study music theory to have a good understanding of the relationships between notes, chords, scales, chord progressions, intervals and so on.
- Practice your scales and learn as many scales as you can. You should be able to identify each note by ear, so say each note out loud while you’re playing to develop the note-sound association.
- Practice identifying root notes and melodies when listening to music.
- Sing along with the notes you are playing. For example, if you are playing a C major scale, you can sing each note of the scale as you play it. Play the note first, then sing it, then play and sing at the same time.
Let us know which ear training methods work for you. Have fun!
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