#1
Hey! How's it going? I seldom post on UG, and when I do, it's usually trying to help people out and what not. I figured I ask for a bit of help on my journey as a guitarist and musician.

Sorry if it ends up being a huge wall of text. It's a bit past 11 at night; I'm tired, and my drowzy train of thought will probably lead me into a rant.

Backstory/Where I'm Coming From

Back in June 2008, I picked up guitar and have been playing since than (So, 6 years now). My technique is pretty decent; it's not "amazing," but it's pretty decent. I know how to play open chords, barre, extensions, inversions, etc all along the neck. Along with that, I know where the notes are (along with the keys) on the fretboard, and I do have a pretty decent understanding of theory. I am also able to improvise a bit, but I did notice that it sounds a bit repetitive at times. I mean, at least I broke out of "the box pattern" phase, right?

I have been averaging like 3-4 hours a week playing over the past few months when it used to be like 8-12 hours/week. I am pretty happy with how I came along, and I know that my technique will be back on par since I've been playing a bit more over the past 2 weeks.

Experience with Ear Training

Out of everything, I would say that my ear s my weakest link. Despite being the worst thing about me (musically, that is), I still think it's somewhat decent. I can hear and recognize basic thinks such as: the Stars Wars theme being a 4th interval followed by a 5th interval. I was also able to figured out (by ear, and no instrument) that Glycerine by Bush is a I V vi IV in D (or was it F? I forget).

So, I am able to hear and recognize some parts/melodies/progressions that may be a bit common, yet I still have trouble with figuring things out all the way through. I mean, two of the songs that I figured out all of the way are "To Be With You" (Mr Big) and "Still Into You" (Paramore), along with a few other "simpler" songs.

My problem is that I always feel overwhelmed with ear training. Even if it's a simple pop song, I become a bit overwhelmed and begin to underestimate myself when I do have a moderately decent ear. I mean, if I actually focus on something, I can get it done. It's just that I'm just a bit too nervous with messing it up and not getting it right within the first couple times.

Are there any tips any of you guys would give me when it comes ear training? Would taht would help get me going? (AlanHB might hate me for asking this, but I'll gladly just edit that Question out and put it in the song thread). What about singing along with playing? Would that be a better way at improving my ear than just transcription alone? I mean, I never really practiced singing, and I'm not the greatest at getting my voice in pitch.

Thanks, everyone! Sorry for asking such a redundant question that has been (and will continue to be) one of the most asked topics on here. Have a great evening/day/afternoon/whatever!
Skip the username, call me Billy
#2
work on your intervals. aside from ear training programs and apps, you should try practicing ear training with your instrument from time to time

for example:
pick mentally a simple melody, like the national anthem of your country. now pick a random note anywhere on the neck and try to play that melody starting from that random note. you're going to see its much harder than it seems

singing really helps too, sing everything you play while you play it. ive seen a jazz guitarist at school who always sings while he improvises, this way his brain is really connected to his fingers and he knows how the next note is going to sound before he plays it
#3
Singing is vital. Work on that.

Also, you've barely transcribed anything - you should be working on transcribing solos and songs.
#4
The functional ear trainer, a free download from Miles.be, helped me a tremendous amount.

Alternatively, you might get a book on ear training. I recommend "Ear Training for the Contemporary Musician" by Wyatt et al. It's basically a series of transcription exercises starting with the very simple, so you can work your way up to more complicated stuff in small steps.
#5
Quote by HotspurJr
The functional ear trainer, a free download from Miles.be, helped me a tremendous amount.

The miles.be functional ear trainer is great. The best functionality it has is in my opinion the ability to choose how often it plays the cadence. Choosing to play the cadence every 5 notes is more realistic than having it play after every note. The musictheory.net ear trainer doesn't have that option.
#6
I just got back from work. Thanks for your help, guys! I'll definitely have to put more time into it and actually work on it.
Skip the username, call me Billy
#7
Pick an interval and go up to the 12th fret and back down again singing it both up and down (this is critical). I never saw much use for the relating intervals to pieces of music idea. You either know what interval it is or you don't and mental crutches tend to prolong the process. As others have said, you'll make the fastest progress transcribing or working things out by ear. It's frustrating at first but stick with it and you'll soon be rewarded.
#8
Yep. Song association is way too slow. If you ever want to hear intervals in real time (a REALLY cool skill, but takes years to learn to be able to do it reliably) you won't be able to do it with song association. Just learning the plain interval sounds is better. It's frustrating at first, but worth it.
#9
Every time you play notes on a guitar, try sing them.

Sing a melody (make one up even); figure it out on the guitar.

Your ears will practically train themselves, and as long as you consciously do it and understand the intervals you are singing, your interval knowledge will increase.

Actually every aspect of musicianship will increase.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#10
Yeah, I know what you guys are saying: I was just giving examples of something I was good with. I'm pretty decent with intervals, yet that definitely need improvement. The best intervals I'm comfortable with are 4ths (both going up and down a 4th) as well as 5ths and maybe 3rds (bit tricky with them).

I appreciate all of the advice, guys! Something haven't really been doing was actually trying to get the whole "idea to instrument" or "singing as I play" into actual practice. Those are both things that I rarely practiced over the past 18 months or so. What I did notice when I actually did some ear training (little, mind you), I was actually surprised with how easy it came to me. It's just that I know that I need tons of improvement in this area, and I can tel that my musicianship seems better than before I (somewhat) consciously began to focus on the aural aspect.

Thanks, guys! I'm definitely going to start making dedicated practice everyday to ear training. I was thinking maybe some interval practice to warm me and improve myself along with some transcribing.
Skip the username, call me Billy