Ear Training




Ear training has two main components: singing and listening.  Singing will help you to identify chords and intervals that you will hear both in music classes and in real life playing situations.  This guide will get you started with teaching you how to teach yourself about ear training.  At the end you will also learn to use the techniques in this chapter to create your own exercises!


The best way to begin training your ears is to start producing the sounds you want to identify.  In order to do that, we need to learn how to sing major scale.  The easiest way to do this is with a piano or keyboard.  Even if you’ve never played a piano before, you can use one for ear training using the following key.  This way you can play the scales or intervals and sing along with what you play.  If you don’t have a piano handy, feel free to use whatever instrument you are most comfortable with.

The first skill we need to learn is how to sing a major scale.  Sing along with the track and get it memorized as soon as possible.

C major scale fixed do

All of the intervals that we’ll need to learn can be found within these eight notes!  Sing each interval with the syllables and then the note names.  Listen, and sing along with the tracks.

Now listen to these next intervals one at a time.  Here’s how we identify the interval.

1.) Sing the lowest note

2.) Using syllables, sing up to the major scale until you hit the higher note.  If you hit the note exactly in the flow of the scale going up, refer back to your interval chart and you’re done!  If the note of the recording seems to be in between two notes of the major scale, then you’ve narrowed it down the it’s only possibility and you’re done (eg, if the note seems to be between F and G, then it has to be an F#.  If the note seems to be between G and A it has to be G#).

3.) Check your answer.

4.) Repeat until you’ve memorized the sound of each individual interval.

Use the following tracks to practice your new skill of interval identification.



Now the you’re comfortable with some basic intervals, lets move onto some basic chord identification.  We’ll start with triads.  Sing the syllables and then the notes names along with the practice tracks.

Now we’ll add the seventh note onto the basic triad to give us three four-note chords that form the basis of a lot of jazz harmony.

To Identify A Chord

1.) Sing the root

2.) Sing the third and determine if the third is natural or flatted (Mi or Me).  The interval between the root and third will be a major third on major 7 chords and dominant 7 chords.  The interval between the root and third will be a minor third on a minor 7 chord. 

3.) Sing the seventh and determine if it natural or flatted (Ti or Te).  The seventh will be natural on major 7 chords, and minor on minor 7 and dominant 7 chords.
1,3,5,7= major 7.  1,b3,5,b7= minor 7.  1,3,5,b7= dominant 7.

4.) Practice playing and singing these chords until you can easily tell the difference between the three types.

5.) If you want to add extensions (notes beyond the normal four like: #4, b9, etc…) simply sing up the scale and add the appropriate note on top of your basic four-note chord.


Practice your new skill with the following chords.



The follow are some ideas for ways that you can create your own ear training exercises.

  • Transpose the above exercises into all twelve major and minor keys.
  • Play intervals with a friend.  Try to guess the interval that other person plays.  Trade back and forth.
  • Play chords with a friend.  Try to guess the chord that other person plays.  Trade back and forth.
  • Identify intervals in your favorite song.  Try to sing them.
  • Close your eyes and play two random notes on the piano.  Guess the interval.
  • Try to identify one or more chords that your like from your favorite song.

Transcription Guide


 A successful transcription begins and ends with listening.  No step in this process is more crucial, and no step is often more overlooked.  Learning a jazz transcription does not simply consist of listening to a solo and writing it down on paper.  Nor does it mean to play or even memorize a solo another person has transcribed and written down.  A real, effective transcription is learned note for note by ear and committed to permanent memory.  Anything less does not pass muster and probably will not help anyone learn jazz to any great degree.

The following are the four key benefits of transcription:

•Ear Training
•Jazz Vocabulary
•Time Feel
•Sound Production

In order to maximize the benefit of each component, follow these steps for effectively learning and mastering a transcription.

Begin every transcription by listening to the solo enough so that you can sing the entire solo on pitch, in time, and with the correct style.  Often times this means listening to a solo on repeat for a couple of days.  In order to remember the solo in the long term, and to help in learning the notes on your instrument, you must be able to hear the solo in your head.  This is kind of like memorizing a picture or a face, but with sound.  This will become easier to do with each transcription.  In the mean time, use the recording as much as necessary as long as you have the sound of the solo in your head.  The recording will help make sure you have all of the right notes and rhythms.

After learning to sing the solo accurately, begin learning the solo one note at a time.  For this part of the process you will need to put a quick finger on the pause button of your song player.  DO NOT try to learn whole phrases, or even groups of a few notes.  Learn the solo one note at a time and add them up slowly so as to eventually equal the solo.

Once you have a phrase learned, play it slowly with a metronome.  This will help you learn to play the transcribed phrase without the crutch of the recording and will help solidify in your memory what you learned.  Gradually work the idea up to the speed of the recording. Once you have practiced each chunk with a metronome, practice playing the whole solo with a metronome.

Once you have each phrase up to the proper tempo, practice that phrase with the recording.  Try to play each small chuck exactly as the musician does on the recording.  Once you have done this with the entire solo, practice playing the whole solo along with the recording.

Once you have mastered the transcription, begin inserting your favorite phrases into your own solos.  You worked hard to learn this material, so put it to use!  Do not be shy about imitating the masters because it is one of the best ways to learn jazz vocabulary.

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