IFR blog > Practice tips > Developing your ear > How can i learn to recognize chords by ear

Q&A - Learning to recognize chords by ear

Hi David,

I've been experimenting with your method for improvising for a few months now and it's really starting to click. But I was improvising over a progression today, and I eventually figured out that it had the following chords:

| E         | G#7       | C#m       | F#        | B         | A         |

I found that I had to listen to the progression between 5-10 times before I could recognize the chords. Is this normal? Does it just come down to practice, or should I be able to do this instantly?


David's response:

Hi Karl,

Just practicing the IFR method will absolutely teach you to recognize chord progressions like this one by ear. I's actually very easy if you know what to listen for.

The key is to learn to hear each chord as it relates to the overall key of the music. This is how we study chords in IFR, so through your IFR practice you will learn to recognize the chords to that song as the following:

| 1         | 3D        | 6-        | 2D        | 5D        | 4         |

IFR student recognizing chords by earEach one of these chords is explored very deeply in IFR Jam Tracks Levels 1 through 4. The key to recognizing these chords by ear is to study them in a way that builds up progressively, so you learn to contrast the differences between the different chords.

This is exactly what we do in the IFR Jam Tracks series. If you go through that course slowly and really take it seriously, you'll be able to recognize chord progressions like this by ear with no effort at all.

Happy jamming!