Continuing in our series of ear training site profiles…
The Big Ears online ear trainer is not complicated. It’s not one of those programs with a million settings, or an overwhelming list of scales and modes. It’s simply an interval trainer. But if you want to work on intervals, the simple approach is often best— and there’s plenty you can do with this little app.
How to Use It
Click the two big ears, and the app will play an interval. Once you can identify what it’s played, simply click the button that corresponds with the correct interval, and the text box in the top right will tell you if you’re correct. If you are, click the ears again to continue. If not, keep guessing until you get it.
The great thing about the no-frills approach is this: no matter how long you’ve been working on ear training, and no matter what specific focus you have at the moment, interval training is always an important part of aural skills training. It’s a skill you have to maintain. You may have known all your diatonic intervals five years ago, but if you stop working on them, your ability will inevitably fade. Bookmark Big Ears and give it a go once every day or two and you’ll stay sharp with only a very small investment of effort.
It’s worth repeating: bookmark it. Use it often and you’ll be glad you did. Whatever stage of training you’ve reached, and however good a musician you are, a few minutes of interval practice can always help.
A small practical tip: directly under the big ears button, there’s a separate button labeled “repeat.” But since there’s no label on the button above it—the one that plays a new interval—you might automatically assume it’s all one big button. In other words, if you click the big ears button after getting an answer wrong, it’ll go ahead and play the next interval without giving you the previous answer. Obviously this defeats the purpose, so be sure to click where it’s labeled “repeat” if you need to hear it again.
Big Ears claims to be “the original online ear trainer”: it’s tried and true. It might not have all the bells and whistles of other online ear trainers, but it provides exactly what’s really necessary: an easy to use, straightforward system of practicing intervals.
If you’re looking for harmonic, scale, or perfect pitch training, there are other ear training apps reviewed on this site that can help you with them. But even if that is the case, you might as well bookmark Big Ears—we all waste time in front of our computers, so having an ear trainer a click away can be a great reminder to spend some of that time on practice!