Ear Training Exercises: Recognizing Intervals

intervalsOne of the best parts of developing your musical ear is learning to quickly recognize notes, chords, pitches and keys of songs as you sightread, improvise, tune your instrument, compose or sing.  If you’re one of the few born with perfect pitch, you’re one step ahead.  But if not, it doesn’t mean you need to give up music altogether – you’ll just need to put in a little extra work!  Luckily, there are several strategies for ear training that can help you refine this skill.

One common beginner strategy for singers in particular is to practice recognizing intervals, or the pitch difference between one note and another.  And by associating them with common songs, you’ll find it easier and faster to learn them.  Here’s how to remember a few of the essential intervals:

Major Intervals
– Major 2nd: Silent Night
– Major 3rd: When the Saints Go Marching In
– Perfect 4th: Amazing Grace
– Perfect 5th: Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
– Major 6th: NBC theme
– Major 7th: Somewhere Over the Rainbow (1st and 3rd notes)
– Perfect 8th (octave): Somewhere Over the Rainbow (first 2 notes)

Minor Intervals
– Minor 2nd: Jaws theme
– Minor 3rd: Greensleeves
– Minor 6th: The Entertainer (3rd and 4th notes)
– Minor 7th: Star Trek theme

As you practice, sing each interval and really internalize the difference.  As simple as it sounds, actively listening is one of the most important parts of learning to sing.  Alternately, listen to someone else sing the interval and see if you can determine it on your own.  You can also practice the notes using solfege syllables, or do, re, mi, etc. (think of the Sound of Music song!).  As always, practice makes perfect, and working with a trained voice teacher can help you pinpoint where you might be struggling, and how to best help you learn.

How do you practice intervals?  Where do you struggle the most?  Post a comment below, or head over to our Facebook page and join the conversation! Like these posts?  Sign up to receive daily updates right to your inbox!  Click here to subscribe.

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Photo by binababy123.

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