If you´re like me, when I was starting out, maybe you find ear training boring. For me, the problem was that I couldn’t see why I needed to do ear training.
The teachers at my school did little to stress the importance of it! This is what this article is all about! Why should you care about ear training? What does it give you? Here are 7 reasons to practice ear training!
1. Memorization becomes easy!
When I studied music I was studying classical piano. Pianists always have tons of material to memorize, so being a good memorizer is important!
If you have no knowledge of ear training and music theory memorization becomes really difficult because you have to memorize every note all one by one!
Whats different when you become an ear training ninja you ask?
Well, Some of the best memorizers in the world utilize a method called “chunking ”
The example most often used is with digits!
Try memorizing the sequence: 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20
If I asked you to recall where this sequence stopped you would probably say 20 right away.
Let’s think about how you memorized this for a second! When the first digit is revealed, you have no context, so you have to memorize it as a 2.
When the second digit is revealed (4) because the math is easy you will probably memorize it in relation to 2.
When the third digit is revealed(6) your brain probably goes “Oh, this might be a pattern”.
On digit number four (8) your brain goes “Yeah for sure. This is a pattern”
The rest is easy because the pattern is established! You don’t memorize 2,4,6,8,10,12,14,16,18,20.
You memorize it like this:
“I start at 2. Then just add 2 and 2 until I hit 20”
How can this help me when memorizing music?
Basically, all music consists of patterns. Music without obvious patterns will for most people feel unpleasant!
By knowing how patterns in music build and how to recognize them by ear, you can memorize large chunks of “data” in one go. Maybe there is an arpeggio in your piece going over 4 octaves with a C-major chord? By memorizing the music in chunks you can hold more data in your memory!
When it comes time to play the music you will also have memory hooks you can hook into if you´re able to follow the music with your ear!
2. You can play most songs within minutes!
If you like pop music you will be able to play a cover on your instrument immediately.
Because you already know how the song sounds in your mind you will probably be able to navigate the chord structure and melody using your ear as you play.
Most pop songs have a predictable progression which is part of the reason why I like using them as examples in my ear training games. If you’re interested you can check them out here!
3. You play more freely!
When you´re to not worrying too much about memory work your mind is free to do other things. You become more playful in your playing. As your ear develops you will find yourself having many AHAAA moments!
When people say.
I just want to play what I hear in my head
.I always feel like throwing up. Mostly because I don’t think it reflects how music is presented in the minds of most people!
At least, speaking for myself, when I play it is a feedback loop. As I play I might take note of something in the music, maybe I think “What If I played this little riff on top or maybe it would sound better with the third on top!” Sometimes I just hear a baseline or maybe I just “sense” a direction that might work!
Most people are not able to deconstruct the whole piece in their minds. Or at least the audio representation of it(If that makes sense) Don´t let that demotivate you though! If you are just playing for fun you can have a bad ear and still get a lot of freedom only by knowing your music theory. But ear training will help you no matter what level you’re aiming at!
If you want to become a professional, you should really focus on ear training and it HAS to become a big part of your daily practice ritual!
4. Ear training can help you rediscover music!
As your ear develops you will start to pick out the chords and the notes of the melodies as you listen.
I think of listening to music with a “good ear” as having HD Color Vision!
It’s strange, but at least for me, it sometimes changes the texture or the music when I´m actively listening! And listening to “simple songs” becomes a game where I often find myself trying to see if I can follow the music with my ear!
Its hard to describe because music is so abstract by nature. But for me at least, I enjoy music more and more!
5. You become the center of attention on the Nachspiel(Afterparty)!
If there is a piano or if you have an afterparty I can almost promise you that someone is going to ask you to play.
Whenever I have an afterparty and some asks
“Can you play this song?“
, I can almost always say
. And even if I can’t I can just search the chords on my phone an play it from there. When you have the chord structure filling in the blanks(even pretty close to recording) becomes a cakewalk! Not a literal cakewalk! That would be strange!
6. Regular non-musical people will think you’re Mozart!
Because you will be able to pick songs seemingly out of thin air, people will think you have some kind of superpower, and In a way, you have one too!
7. You pick up new instruments quickly!
If your goal is to play multiple instruments having a good ear will help you out a lot! You will be able to map out the notes quicker and connect the instrument to your “inner voice” quicker than when you’re starting as a complete noob!
Your mind to instrument connection will strengthen at a faster pace and you will more than likely discover that playing music becomes more intuitive with less stress on the old nudle!
Just to sum up! You should really do some ear training every day. You can do it in the shower, or on your commute in the morning as you listen to music. The most important thing is that you keep going!
Set a goal to do 5 minutes of ear training a day, and I promise you that in a couple of weeks you will start noticing some changes!