IFR blog > Practice tips > Developing your ear
How to recognize melodies by ear using the key of the music

In this video you'll learn the most important technique for recognizing songs and melodies by ear. The technique is to focus on the path that the melody traces through the overall key of the music.

What's the best approach to ear training?

I have tried many different methods of ear training. I have tried interval recognition apps, functional ear training and even a perfect pitch course. But I have yet to recognize a single note when listening to real music! Can you give me any guidance?

Listening activity: Recognizing the chords in popular songs

This listening activity will help you learn to recognize chord progressions by ear. We have put together a list of beautiful popular songs that use the exact same chords that you're studying in IFR Jam Tracks Levels 2 and 3.

Is singing the tonal numbers a crutch?

I play the guitar and in order to avoid getting lost on the fretboard I say the numbers of the scale out loud. So I literally say "1, 2, 3" etc out loud as I'm playing. Will this be like a crutch in the future where I can't move around unless I count the notes?

How to build a strong sense of tonal orientation

"When I'm practicing Seven Worlds, sometimes I lose my orientation and I can't feel the tonal center anymore. So for example note 2 doesn't feel like home anymore. Instead my ear keeps wanting to resolve to note 1. Do you have any tips for this?"

Hopeless at ear training

I have always had a terrible ear and I feel that it's preventing me from making the most of your method. There seem to be just two sorts of musicians: the ones who can play by ear and the ones who just can't. Can you help me?

Demo of exercise from Understanding Begins with Listening

This is a demonstration of the singing activity from the chapter "Understanding Begins with Listening". It's the first step to learning to recognize chords and melodies by ear.

Which harmonic environments should an improviser learn first?

Should I study the most important harmonic environments first? Or is it better to study all seven harmonic environments in order?

Why nursery rhymes are great ear training for improvisers

I'm currently singing and playing short tunes like nursery rhymes, hymns, etc. The way I do it is that I will play a tune only once and try to make my best attempt at playing the correct notes the very first time. Is this approach a good one?

Learning to recognize chords by ear

Sometimes I have to listen to a chord progression between 5-10 times before I can recognize the chords. Is this normal? Or should I be able to do this instantly?