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Ear Training Exercises: Recognizing Intervals

May 25, 2023

Ear Training Exercises: Recognizing Intervals

Intervals are the building blocks of music, and being able to identify them is an important skill for any musician. 

Fortunately, there are a number of ear training exercises that can help you develop this ability. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at some of the most effective exercises for interval recognition. 

By the end, you’ll be well on your way to becoming an interval expert!

How Do You Practice Ear Training?

Ear training can benefit musicians in numerous ways, and is an essential part of improving as a musician:

  • Start small by focusing on intervals or, even better, melodies that have simple intervals:
  • An exercise which can help with quickly recognizing intervals within melodies would be to practice humming them first until they become familiar. 
  • Listening to recordings and trying to imitate them is also a great way to gain proficiency in ear training. 
  • Additionally, learning various chords and being able to recognize different chord progressions might help one develop further. 

Practicing these techniques regularly will help even the most novice of musicians become proficient in following their ears much faster.

Ready to get started with a fun ear training exercise? Sign up for singing lessons! You’ll learn everything you need to know to pull off these ear training exercises like a pro, plus helpful tips like what you see in the video below: 

Interval Ear Training Exercises

One 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. For a quick intro to recognizing intervals, check out the video lesson below.

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!).

Best Ear Training Exercises for Beginners

Ear training is an incredibly valuable skill for any musician or singer, as it helps to improve recognition skills and musical theory comprehension. Here are some of the best ear training exercises for beginners so that you can get started on your musical journey!  

Free Ear Training Exercises

Fortunately, there are plenty of free ear training exercises available online, which allows you to sharpen up your musical skills without breaking the bank. 

These exercises come in many different forms; they range from simple games focused on intervals and chords to more complex drills requiring excellent listening skills and improvisation techniques. Whatever your skill level, there is sure to be an ear training exercise out there for you.

Harmony Ear Training Exercises

One of the most important concepts in music theory is harmony—the relationship between different notes. To practice harmony ear training exercises, try playing a simple one-chord song on your instrument or singing along with one note at a time until you have a good understanding of how each chord sounds. 

Once you have this down, start adding in more notes and chords until your song has several layers of harmony. This exercise will help to sharpen your recognition skills and give you a better understanding of how different chord combinations work together. 

Ear Training Exercises for Singers to Practice Chords

If you’re a singer looking to hone your ear training skills, one great exercise is to practice singing along with chords played by an instrument. Start by playing just two chords at a time—you can use either major or minor chords—and then sing along with them using solfege syllables (e.g., doh re mi) instead of words. As you get more comfortable with this exercise, add in more chords and try moving between keys quickly to challenge yourself even further!  

More Advanced Ear Training Exercises

For those who already have some experience with ear training exercises but want to take their skills up another level, there are still plenty of options available! 

Try playing through songs with complex melodies or harmonies without referring back to sheet music or recordings—this will force you to really focus on what’s happening musically and develop your instinctive recognition skills even further. 

In addition, listening intently to various genres of music will also help broaden your musical horizons while sharpening your ear training abilities at the same time!  

Do Ear Training Exercises Work?

Ear training exercises can be a great way to sharpen your musical ear and improve your overall understanding of music. 

While they may require some focus and dedication, studies have shown that if used regularly over a period of time, these exercises can lead to significantly improved skills in listening, analyzing, and transcribing music

You don’t need fancy training software or expensive gadgets either – there are plenty of simple exercises online with which you can get started. 

With consistent practice using these drills, you’ll be able to quickly identify musical intervals, understand musical phrases better, and even discern more subtle nuances in a particular piece of music. In short, ear training exercises work and can certainly work wonders for any budding musician out there.

Give These Music Ear Training Exercises a Try Today!

Intervals are the building blocks of melody and harmony. In order to recognize them, you need to train your ears! These ear training exercises will help you get started on recognizing intervals. With a little bit of practice, you’ll be able to recognize them in no time.

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.


Suzy S.