Whether you’re just starting out, or already up to your eyeballs in intervals, there are going to be times when you need some interval ear training help.
It’s good to start out by really understanding the benefits of interval ear training, but beyond that you’ll want to have a stock of interval ear training tips and tricks to keep you making progress.
Our #1 Hint: Keep the Big Picture in Mind
We’ve covered 3 different interval ear training methods here on EasyEarTraining.com, and there will be an approach or combination of approaches which works for you.
Whichever method you’re using though, you will probably at some point find yourself doing interval ear training exercises and wondering:
- “Am I making progress?”
- “Why am I bothering with interval ear training anyway…?”
- or possibly even exclaiming “Help! Interval ear training is driving me nuts!”
Our main hint for interval ear training is this: Keep the “big picture” in mind.
That means asking yourself:
Why are you learning intervals?
There was probably a reason that you got into interval ear training in the first place.
Was it studying music theory and asking what the musical elements sounded like?
Was it a musical friend who seemed to have a powerful freedom in music and kept talking about this interval and that interval?
Was it just that you knew your ABRSM instrument exam had an aural skills section and you would be tested?
Whatever the reason was, remind yourself of the benefits of interval ear training and decide now what your reason is.
What’s your goal?
You may have started out with a vague goal, or no goal at all. But to ensure your interval ear training stays on course, it’s vital that you decide now what the goal you’re working towards is going to be.
Do you want to use intervals to hear chord progressions by ear?
Do you want to sight-sing and use your interval recognition skills to do it more reliably and confidently?
Is it all in pursuit of that killer guitar solo you imagine yourself rocking on stage?
What is your interval ear training goal? If you don’t know it clearly enough to write it down, you don’t really have a goal at all. And if you don’t have a goal how can you hope to know whether you’re making progress towards it?
How have you chunked it down into manageable stages?
Having a big inspiring ear training goal is vital—but you can’t jump straight there immediately.
You’ll know from other areas of your life that breaking a task down into manageable chunks makes it far easier to start, continue progressing, and eventually complete the task. Ear training intervals is no different.
For example, if your goal is to use intervals to hear I-IV-V bass lines reliably, you might chunk that down into studying ascending perfect fourth and perfect fifth intervals. Then the descending forms. Then taking a bassline and working out which notes are the I, IV and V by using the interval recognition skills you’ve built up.
Approaching your goal step-by-step like this also helps greatly when you get stuck: You can pinpoint which sub-tasks you are still struggling with, go back and improve them, and then continue on towards your goal.
→ Learn more about making an ear training plan
How will you incorporate interval ear training into your regular music practice?
Look, you’re busy.
You’ve got work/school/a social life/a hundred things all vying for those precious hours of your day.
You manage to carve out some valuable free time to work on music… and you want to play your instrument! Or write songs! Or do something creative and satisfying.
Let’s be honest: doing interval ear training the traditional way does not always fit that description.
So find a way to involve it in the music practice you’re already doing. We’ll give some more advice on how exactly to do this in “interval ear training tips and tricks”, coming up next.
How will you check your progress?
Staying motivated is largely about feeling like you’re making progress. So when you chunk down your interval ear training goal into sub-tasks, give some thought to how you’ll measure your progress.
If you’re focusing on particular intervals, can you test yourself on those intervals at the end of each ear training practice session?
If you’re working on using interval recognition to improvise or compose, can you keep track of moments when you really notice the benefit of using intervals in this way?
Keep your eye on the prize
Ask yourself the questions above, and whenever you practice ear training intervals, keep in mind your goal and each aspect of your plan.
This will help you stay motivated and ensure your training gets you where you want to go.
Next time: We’ll give you some specific interval ear training tips and tricks that will help make the journey a little easier.