IFR blog > Practice tips > Developing your ear
Ear Training for Musical Creativity

Imagine being able to listen to a song and recognize every note of the melody by ear. What would that do for your musical creativity and improvising? In this 10-week workshop you will learn how to develop this ability, adding a whole new creative dimension to your improvisation practice.

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?

Q&A - Hear notes relative to key or chord?

To understand music by ear, should we try to hear each note relative to the chord of the moment or relative to the overall key of the song?

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?

Intervals vs. tonal ear training

In this video I demonstrate why tonal ear training is so much more powerful than listening for intervals, especially over long or complex chord progressions.

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?

IFR video lesson: Sound, map and instrument

In this free video lesson, I show you how you can learn to understand music by ear and to play the sounds you imagine using the "Sound, Map and Instrument" technique from Improvise for Real.

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?"

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.

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?