Mix ear training with music production in Apple’s simple music software Garageband. Record fun music tracks, export them to iTunes, and load them onto your iPod to practice ear training skills like intervals, chords, note recognition, and rhythm.
One of the fundamental skills in ear training involves recognizing different music intervals. An interval essentially involves two notes in a scale played simultaneously. For example, in the C scale, playing the note C and the note E at the same time consists of an interval of a third (see image). You can explore basic music interval theory at Theory On The Web.
Practice interval training in Garageband in three easy steps:
1. Set up a New Project in Garageband
Open a new project in Garageband. If you do not have a MIDI keyboard hooked up via USB, you can open Musical Typing under the Window menu. Musical Typing allows you to record music using your computer keyboard. You can choose other parameters such as instrument choice, metronome settings, and tempo.
2. Record music intervals
Select the red Record button to record basic intervals like a third, fourth or fifth. At first, only record two or three different types of intervals as separate Garageband Projects. If you are more familiar with Garageband, you can save a step by recording all of the intervals on separate tracks in the same project and exporting them later by soloing the different tracks. Play each interval only once initially, leaving a few seconds of silence.
3. Export to iTunes
Once you have recorded your interval, export the track to iTunes by selecting “Send Song to iTunes” under the Share menu and choose “MP3 Encoder”. Once your track is exported, you can use iTunes to import your track into your MP3 player. Exporting to iTunes differs depending on the version of Garageband you own. Double check how to export a track if your version of Garageband has different options.
Once you have imported the music interval tracks into your MP3 player, you can practice your intervals by shuffling them, listening to them, and guessing which interval is being played. Record newer tracks in Garageband using intervals to practice ear training.
Making a Catchy Garageband Interval Mix
Want to add a little bit of fun to interval training? Make your own interval mix in Garageband in a few easy steps. Record a few measures of the interval you are learning. In the audio example, I used a fourth. Change the instrument from piano to any of the hundreds of options available in Garageband. Experiment with a second high pitched track to improvise a short melody based on the interval you are learning. Add some effects and a few supplementary tracks, and you have a new mix that not only embeds intervals into your mind’s ear with a catchy mix but shows off your awesome music production chops, too!
If you have any other tips for using GarageBand (or other multitracker) to train your ears – share them below, in the comments!