Tag Archives: Ear Training

good-ear.com – Great Free Ear Training Tool!



While I was online tonight, I stumbledupon good-ear.com. It is a simple ear training tool with a lot of options. A lot of the hits on my site come from people doing google searches for “charlie banacos exercises.” Good-ear.com allows you to do exercises like those that are randomly generated in real time. It also keeps track of your progress by letting you know how many right answers you’ve gotten out of the total attempts.

The best part of this website is the price – it’s FREE! I was really happy to find this and just wanted to share it with all of you.


Ear Training Exercise #2

It’s been a few weeks since I posted my 1st ear training exercise and a variation on it. I’ve been working on them and have been making some improvements.

I’ve just began working on a new exercise. It uses the same tools as the 1st exercise, flash cards and a piano/keyboard, but is a little more advanced. In the 1st exercise, we used flash cards to sing different pitches/intervals using C Major as our key. In this new exercise, we will use the interval on the flash card as the root of a major triad that we’ll sing against a C major triad.

I’ll walk you through my process working on this exercise:

1. Shuffle the flash cards and lay them face down on your work surface.

2. Play a C major triad (C, E, G) with your left hand and flip over a card with your right hand.

3. While sustaining the C triad, sing the interval listed on the card. Let’s say that you’ve flipped over b13, you would sing Ab.

4. Try to sing an Ab major triad while continuing to play the C triad.

5. After you think you have sung the correct interval and triad, play and sing the notes of the Ab triad at the same time to check yourself.

6. Repeat steps 2-5 until you work through the whole deck of cards.

I think the most important part of the process is singing the interval and its triad before you play it. It is also important to do the work in the 1st ear training exercise before adding this one. Having a good understanding of the 1st exercise makes the 2nd one much easier.

Although I haven’t tried any of these yet, I’ve been thinking of some variations that you could incorporate into this exercise.

1. If the last note of the triad you sing is a tension, resolve it to a chord tone.

2. Sing other triad qualities – major, minor, augmented, diminished.

3. Sing inversions. When doing this, the interval on the card could act as the 3rd or 5th of the triad instead of the root.

4. Sing both ascending and descending triads.

I hope that acts as a good introduction to this exercise. I might start making videos of myself going through some of these exercise. I think something is lost between being able to see and hear how an exercise works and only reading the steps.

Variation on Ear Training Exercise #1

It’s always good to try different approaches on an exercise when possible. It allows you to discover connections/associations you may not have been known about, or it can help you to solidify your understanding of concepts you kind of know, but you’d have to think about to apply. The development of skill in music really depends on your ability to be introduced to a new concept*, process it (slowly) over time through repetitive practice, and in the end, be able to use that concept without thinking through its technical details. The ability to ingrain concepts and apply them automatically is key.

The method for this variation is exactly the same, but I use different flash cards. In addition to cards that have numbers representing intervals, I also have a set of flash cards with pitch names for all of the pitches in the chromatic scale. I’m still playing the I-IV-V-I cadence in C before I attempt the exercise to have that pitch reference.

Another thing you can add to this exercise is saying the name of the interval (or pitch name) before you sing it. For example, if you’re working with the numbered flash cards in the key of C and you pull up #11, you could say F# before you sing it. Same thing working with the lettered flash cards – pull up F# and say #11 before you sing it.

One more thing, you could do these exercises in any key. I will probably rotate keys every couple of weeks.

* A concept could be almost anything – learning a new note, a new fingering, a chord, a scale, a tune.

Ear Training Exercise #1

In my last post, I mentioned working on intervals and sharing the exercises I’m doing. So, without further ado, here is the 1st Ear Training Exercise for 2011.

This exercise is a variation on a Charlie Banacos exercise I read about several months ago. In the Banacos exercise, you begin by playing a I-IV-V-I cadence in C to establish the key. This is followed by listening to single pitches, played by a friend or pre-recorded, and identifying them in relation to the key. When this becomes easy, you start working on 2 pitches played simultaneously and continue to add pitches from there.

Instead of using recordings of pitches or a friend playing, I made a set of flash cards, each with a number on it that represents an interval. I shuffle the deck of cards, play the cadence in C, and then flip over a card, try to sing the interval as it relates to C, and then check it on the piano, or whatever instrument is at hand.

I’m having good success with 1 note and am now working on doing 2 cards at a time. I flip two cards, sing the intervals in succession as they relate to C, and then check my work. Most of the time, I’m getting both pitches right, but sometimes I’ll pull up a pair that throws me for a loop! When I can get that worked out, I’ll move up to 3 cards, eventually seeing how far I can go.

My super awesome, professional quality flash cards!

2011: Year of the Ear

Happy New Year! The new year is a cue for change and new beginnings. A lot of people set resolutions and I will be one of those people this year.

I have been reading and thinking a lot about music lately, particularly the mind/instrument relationship, and one of the conclusions I’ve reached is that your mind is your instrument. And while we practice to gain technique on our instrument(s), we become better musicians by training our minds.

I am planning on doing a lot of ear training this year. I have a three-prong approach that I’m starting with and will adjust if needed.

1.) Interval singing – When I say interval singing, I’m basically referring to a couple of things – singing intervals without a pitch reference or singing intervals over chords. I’ve already started working on this a little bit and I feel positive about it. I have a few exercises for this that I will discuss in later posts.

2.) Learning Tunes – I want to learn tunes by ear from recordings without leadsheets or fake books. The goal is to internalize melodies and chord changes through repetitive listening and imitation, developing a framework for each tune.  The plan is to alternate between standards and jazz originals.

3.) Solo Transcription – This is somewhat similar to the tune learning component. The difference lies in the details. In addition to learning the pitches and chord changes, I also want to focus on phrasing, articulation, and idiomatic devices (pitch bends, alternate fingerings, etc.).

I’m really looking forward to this year. I wish you love, peace, happiness, and good music in 2011.