Recognizing Chords by Ear

Recognizing Chords by Ear

Begins April 17, 2021. Building on the skills you learned in Ear Training for Musical Creativity, in this workshop you will learn to how to recognize chords by ear so that you can play and improvise over songs without having to ask what the chords are.


10 week workshop: Recognizing Chords by Ear

Imagine being able to listen to your favorite songs and recognize the chords by ear. You could instantly play these songs in any key on your instrument. You could improvise your own solos and flow effortlessly with the harmony. And it would even demystify songwriting, because you could literally hear how these songs are put together. This is exactly what you will learn in this 10 week online group workshop.

The workshop begins April 17, 2021 and I hope you'll join us! Through step-by-step exercises and my personal coaching, you'll learn to recognize the most important chords in popular music by ear, and you'll learn a process that will enable you to keep growing in this ability for the rest of your life.

Open to all instruments

Everyone can learn to recognize chords by ear! This workshop is open to all instruments. Even if you play a melodic instrument that doesn't produce chords, our lessons and creative exercises will allow you to feel and experience each chord for yourself. Through a combination of video lessons, audio practice tracks, weekly creative exercises and my own personal coaching, you will discover the unique sensation produced by each chord and you'll learn to recognize this sensation in any musical context.

Note: For this workshop you will need to be able to sing and recognize the notes of the major scale by ear. If you are new to the IFR method, we recommend that you first start with our workshop Ear Training for Musical Creativity so that you can master these foundational skills.

Immediate benefits to your playing:

  • Play along with friends at parties and jam sessions without having to ask what the chords are.
  • Recognize the chords to your favorite songs by ear so that you can play and improvise over these songs.
  • Gain a deeper appreciation for the beautiful chords you hear in the music all around you.
  • Discover how songs and chord progressions work so you can write your own songs.
  • Learn how to put your own chords to familiar melodies or to melodies that you compose yourself.

How is this course different from other ear training programs?

Learning in a musical context. Every step of the way, you'll be hearing these chords in beautiful songs and chord progressions. So the connection to real music is very present right from the start. This is one of the biggest complaints that musicians have about other ear training programs. They get better at identifying random sounds in the context of a quiz, but they still can't recognize anything in the songs they hear on the radio. So we think it's very important to study and appreciate the beauty of the sounds every step of the way, and that means hearing all of the sounds in the context of actual music.

Creativity. We believe that the best way to master harmony is to experience it first hand. So in addition to the listening and singing exercises, you'll also be jamming with your instrument and exploring all of these sounds very deeply. You'll be improvising with the chord notes, playing melodies that connect the chords together, and you'll even learn to improvise harmony parts to accompany a melody. (This is such a great ability to have in a band!)

Organized path. This course will immerse you in the feeling of the chords gradually, so every lesson builds on the abilities gained in the previous one. The key to any ear training is to go very deeply into the first few sounds until you can distinguish between them easily. This not only gives you confidence ("Hey, I can do this!") but it also serves as a jumping off point for recognizing everything else.

Personal coaching. And finally, a huge difference with this course is that I'll be right there to help you you every step of the way. I'll be there to answer your questions, give you feedback on your practicing and guide you toward the musical discoveries you need to make.

10 weekly video lessons - Watch at your own convenience

Every week you'll receive a new video lesson that you can watch at your own convenience. We use video lessons instead of live sessions to make the course easily adaptable to your schedule. Each lesson will take you another step into recognizing chords by ear. Progressively you’ll learn to play and hear the individual notes that make up chords, to play and identify the roots of the chords, and hear the overall feeling of each chord in relation to the key of the music. Every week I’ll guide you through new exercises to experience the feeling of each chord and learn to recognize them yourself.

Weekly audio lessons, creative exercises, song analysis and self-tests

  • Video lessons. We'll explore each chord deeply and I'll show you how to recognize it by ear.
  • Audio lessons. You'll learn to hear and sing the chord notes across chord changes.
  • Jamming exercises. You'll be jamming with your instrument over backing tracks to explore each chord deeply.
  • Harmonizing melodies. You'll experience putting different chords to melodies so you can hear their effects for yourself.
  • Song analysis. We will analyze famous songs together and identify the chords being played.
  • Self-tests. Special audio tracks to practice recognizing chords by ear in an easy, progressive way.

My own personal coaching and feedback

Throughout the entire course you'll be able to ask questions, discuss your challenges and even record videos of your practicing so that I can give you personal coaching and feedback. You can send me these videos privately if you don't want anyone else to see them. Or you can share them with the entire group so that you can also get feedback and ideas from other students in the course.

Community interaction, questions and support

We will also have a private learning platform where the entire community can get together to exchange ideas, ask questions and share videos of our practicing. If you don't want to participate in the group, you can just work on the lessons at your own pace and I'll work with you individually to make sure you're successful. But if you do want to participate in our group, I think you'll really enjoy the discussions and interactions with other students.

Testimonials from past students

"Awesome course if you want the most commonly used chords to sink down deep into your bones. It will really help you recognize chords by ear and to learn how to develop your skills on your own after the course." - Mike Leffler (guitar, United States)

"I am a beginner at this process of listening to chord changes. So this course was perfect for me. You couldn’t have done a better job teaching this. Your pace was ideal. Your videos, illustrations, pdf files, backing tracks, songs to listen to, couldn’t have been better." - John Young (piano, United States)

"IFR courses are so much deeper than simple ear training. Students are guided on a step-by-step exploration of aural harmony, studying not only the component sounds of each chord, but also how these chord tones function to push chords forwards in distinct progressions. Heightened harmonic awareness is then taken from relatively simple backing tracks to a playlist of fully arranged songs. With its focus on hearing harmony, and its comprehensive path from sound to song, Improvise for Real delivers the ear to living music, and is the foundation of a powerful musical education." - Steven Weiss (guitar, United States)

Pricing and scheduling

  • Course begins Saturday, April 17, 2021. (You don't have to be available on this Saturday. You can watch the video lessons anytime and participate during the week.)
  • 10 week online course runs from April 17 through June 26, 2021.
  • Total cost = $300
  • Includes the 10 lesson videos, audio lessons, practice tracks, self-tests and my personal coaching, plus unlimited access to our student community for group discussion and learning.

If you have any questions about the workshop, just send me an e-mail at and I'll be happy to answer any questions you have.

Just click the "Add to Cart" button to reserve your place!