#1
Okay, so I've recently realised that my ear for deciphering music is quite bad. I consider myself quite a confident guitarist, and i am interested in theory. I have a good knowledge of playing scale, chords and songs. However, i am having trouble with listening for what key a backing track/jam partner is playing in. I feel really shit about it, because i really love the guitar.. and i love making music and playing in front of people. However, i feel a little weak, and dont know if ill get laughed at for being bad at working out keys by ear.

recently, i have tried to work on picking out chords that i recognise in music, and use websites to hear chords and see if i can tell which one it is. Im getting better... but only slightly.

is this something i should be really worried about? I am working on it because i want to make myself the best musician i can possibly be, and without this ability, i feel a bit useless. I start music at college in 2 weeks.. I hope to be confident with hearing what key i should play along in by then. Is this achievable in 2 weeks? should i panic??

thanks for any help in advance, and i hope this is in the right forum.
#2
Should you be worried about it? No. Should you work on it? Yes.

The book "Ear Training for the Contemporary Musician" by Keith Wyatt et al is very good. It will also teach you a lot of theory. Highly recommended.

I would, however, supplement it (particularly when starting out, as it moves pretty quickly) with the interval trainer at Trainear.com (the most customizable, and I like it's song-based feedback) and with the functional ear trainer at miles.be (the functional ear trainer will probably seem totally impossible when you first start - but make it a part of your regular practice anyway).

Like you, this is a part of my development as a musician that has bugged me.

You're not going to get there in two weeks - but start today. The thing about ear training is that its like learning a language - you can't cram it. Rather, you've simply got to make a point to put in 15 minutes a day, every day ... and you will get better, perhaps faster than you expect.
#3
first off, do you know theory? do you know the notes in your chords and/or scales? good theory knowledge is made very effective if you couple it with a good ear -- it's far more beneficial to you than running some scale shapes.

the issue on humiliation -- are you going to a conservatory? or are you just going to a local college for music? if your theory isn't that good (which it may actually be, i have no basis for that) and your ear isn't that good, i'll assume it's the latter (because conservatories have rigorous prerequisite examinations), in which case, you probably won't get made fun of, because incoming music students in local colleges generally (not always) have little to no training.

hearing the key center -- you'd have to work your ass off to get to that level in only 2 weeks. but that's only the basics of having a good ear. from that point, there's still so much work to do to have (and maintain) a functional ear.

just keep working at it and don't impose any deadlines. in matters like this you're more likely to fall short than to meet them, even if you give it your all. just keep working. it'll come when it comes.
Anfangen ist leicht, Beharren eine Kunst.
#4
okay, thanks for the advice, and I'm only going to a local college, so yeah, and ill be practicing everyday from now. As for my theory, i know and understand everything my guitar teacher has taught me, and i try to learn extra off UG (so basics like what chords are in most keys, circle of fifths, basic chord composition, intervals, major/minor scales) its very very far from a complete knowledge though, but i try to learn what i can.

The ear thing is frustrating because i sort of understand what chords im trying to pick out, but struggle anyway.

I'm mainly doing college to meet new people who have a similar interest in music anyway.. i just didnt want to look like a noob. I shall check out the websites and book thanks very much
#5
Get the Wyatt book.

Start working at trainear - and I'd start with just a couple of intervals - 1, 3, 5, and octave. Just do ascending until you're getting them right consistently. Then add in descending. Then when you have that, add more intervals and do ascending again, etc, etc.

You'll learn much more theory from the Wyatt book than you will poking around free resources online - it's definitely worth the investment, IMHO.

Again, it's work. But with practice you will get there.