Ear training for beginners

In my bass lessons I always encourage my students to sing along with their playing, which actually means that they should play what they hear in their head.
When I started messing with chords, scales, arpeggios and ear training, one of my early teachers said to me: “Whenever you have a minute of doing nothing, like waiting for the bus or at a red traffic light, sing arpeggios in your head.” Well, that’s what I did and I must say that my understanding of scales and music theory developed quiet fast!

Here is how it works:
Visualize it on your fretboard or instrument and slowly sing it note by note. First a major triad (root-3rd-5th), then a minor triad. Make sure to concentrate on the thirds and try to figure out the difference between minor and major, how it sounds like. To be honest, it’s quiet fun to do and once you’ve got it you can go on with the arpeggios of all other chords: major 7, minor 7. Concentrate on the 3rds & 7th and the difference between minor 7 and major 7. Then half diminished, diminished, now focus on the 5th, and so on…
Later you can sit at the piano and play the chords so you can hear what they sound like when you play all notes at once.
It’s also fun to sing the inversions of the triads and arpeggios: 3rd-5th-7th-root or start with the 5th or the 7th.

This is an incredible way to develop your hearing and to understand the vocabulary of the language you want to speak with your instrument.
Of course, you’ll want to practice all these things also with your instrument. But when you do, you’ll already know how it sounds and whether you play it right or wrong.

So just sing it or hum it, whenever you have a minute and you’ll see that you’ll get better at hearing music and music theory and of course at being a better musician.

If you have any questions or something is unclear, please feel free to write comments or contact me.

Enjoy singing!
Florian

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