Ear Training

Why Ear Training Important? Read this article and find some useful ear training exercises.

Ultimate Guitar
Ear Training
If you want to be a great musician, you can't just be good at guitar or bass. Believe me, there are a lot of people who are very good at guitar or bass. You can be a good musician without any other skills than playing guitar, but you can't be a great musician. Having good musical ears will greatly improve your playing skills, they will make you a better singer, and they will make it easier for you to hear chords, intervals and notes.

Some Ear Training Exercises:

Before you start, let me tell you, this will take a long time for you to master. Once of the most respected skills of a musician is called "perfect pitch" Perfect pitch is the ability to hear a note and know what it is. It takes many years to develop perfect pitch.

But, you have to start somewhere.
Remember in music class when you sang the do, re, mi, fa, sol, etc? Never think you'd ever use it again? Well, first you should take some time to familiarize your self with the syllable system. Since it is based ona 8-note major scale, it would be easiest to make the root note (do) a C. So if you wrote it out, it would look like: 
do  re  me  fa  sol  la  si  do


If you have a piano, this is easier, but a guitar will work also. Practice singing the syllables as you play the notes on a guitar or piano. For those of you who play guitar and can't read notes, learn to read notes! But in the meantime: 

c d e f g a b c
d r m f S l s d

Practice singing/playing up and down the scale a few times, then try skipping notes and finically try it all over again without playing. just singing.

Try: do-re-do-mi-do-fa-do-sol-do-la-do-si-do-do(octave)

try these 1st with instrumental accompaniment, then without.


If you can, record yourself doing these, then listen to them to see if you were right. Once you have done those exercises, and a few of your own a few times, you are ready to move on to the next thing.

A Song

It is good to start out with something simple that you know the tune to. Something good would be a common tune with a simple rhythm. row-row-row your boat (I know, I know) is a good place to start. I have tabbed it out below, butyou you've got a piano, the notes are:

d d d r m m r d f S d d d S S S m m m d d d S f m r d

As boring as this is, do it a few times correctly, and you will start to improve. Make sure your doing it right, because if not, you're only hurting yourself.

Another useful song is "My Favorite Things" (ie raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, etc).
this song has f#, so all fa's are #'d

m s s f m m s m m f m m s s f m m s m m f m

m s l m f r r l S d s d r m f S l s l r#


Get that down well.

Well, that's all I've written for now, if noone's gonna read/use this, then I won't bother making more, but if you mastered all that, and want more, email me at gbuchak@excite.com and I will finish it for you.

- Greg Buchak (gbuchak@excite.com)

71 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Alright. Perhaps in non-english-speaking countries, the 7th degree of the major scale is "si" - I haven't heard this, but it is quite possible- but in the US it is "ti". Nadia is correct; "si" is an augmented fifth, a half step above "sol". I recommend using "ti", because you will run into b7 ("te") as well as #5, eventually, and then you won't be confused. Remeber "The Sound Of Music"? "Ti- I drink with jam and bread" :
    I'm just getting into this, and it's actually improving my 'singing'. Thanks!!
    playing with a guitar doesnt help when its out of tune. But really, this lesson helps.
    dint read the lesson wish i cud v time to be any good
    THIS is a great lesson thank you so much. Now I just have to practice it...everyday!!!!
    For those of you who keep saying "si" is incorrect: The original solfege scale is Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Si, Do. That is also the scale used today by non-English speaking Western countries. English speaking countries generally use Do, Re, Mi, Fa, So, La, Ti, Do. So, he isn't incorrect. You all are just uncultured swine. Just kidding. But really, he's right.
    a thing or two to correct. sorry, but if you're writing a lesson, you should have the correct information. "do re mi fa so la ti do" I'm in school to be a musician and this is what was taught. what you wrote, "la si do", is incorrect. "si" is a raised version of "so". (Making it sharped.) For example, if So was a G, then Si would be a G#. Got it? Good.
    Nice, that's just what I needed. Would be great for figuring out songs by ear. Even if you can just get the first note. P.S. I think, mj_da_best, REALLY needs to learn to type .
    mj_da_best wrote: can sum1 pleas recommend a relatively easy tab for a rock song for a beginner. i hav a ok electric and a distortion pedal. plez help me!!!!!
    try some of the riffs in Metallicas Wherever i may roam
    SpAzTiC_oVr_FoB wrote: didn't help much. i kinda knew most of that b/c i'm a singer, but i am slightly better with solfege now so thanks. i know i probably sound like i'm totally dumb, but can someone explain to me what it means to hammer on? iknow it's probably a dumb question, but i taught myself how to play guitar in 7th grade and i can't figure it out. help please!
    hammering on is when you play a note then press your finger on a higher note on the same string without picking it again, it needs to be done quickly to stop from muting. hammer-ons will usuuall be shown like this E|---5h7--| hold the e string with your forefinger on the 5th fret and pluck the string. while the note is sounding use your 3rd (ring) finger to 'hammer on the 7th fret' by pressing down on it as if you are about to play that note but without picking the string. This is the opposite of pull-offs which are shown as |---7p5--| play the 7th fret with your 3rd finger but have your 1st finger pressing on the 5th fret behind it. pluck the string then when the note is sounding pull your 3rd finger down off the string to change to the 5th fret being played. if you want a better explanation there are bound to be lots of better articles in the lessons serction (it may be under 'legato')
    mj_da_best wrote: can sum1 pleas recommend a relatively easy tab for a rock song for a beginner. i hav a ok electric and a distortion pedal. plez help me!!!!!
    Disposable heroes by metallica is a relatively easy song to learn by ear up to the solo or a beginner and the solo isn't that hard to figure out.
    Marz 1ns4n1ty
    For really technical ear training stuff try www.earplane.com For me, this stuff seems to help me hear better in general... Plus its free.
    mj_da_best wrote: can sum1 pleas recommend a relatively easy tab for a rock song for a beginner. i hav a ok electric and a distortion pedal. plez help me!!!!!
    ..well, knocking on heavens door by dylan is relatively easy for a beginner..and try mybe polly by nirvana, or come as you are, maybe the intro to welcome home sanitarium by metallica is easy to do by ear, and if you now power chords..this isn't rock but maybe try some blink 182...and smells like teen spirit by nirvana..up to the solo..if you can also do the solo do it
    hey man, great lesson. im always looking for anything that will help my playing in the long run. post the second lesson soon!
    Awesome lesson. I used the little that I learned to make the Sugar We're Going Down (Fall Out Boy)melody. Can be played on any string but G is recomended -7-5--9----7----5---7---9----7---5----10---5-- Am I more than you barganed for yet? I've been -9-7--5---7----5---7-9-9----5---7-9---9-----5-- dyi ng to tell you anything you wanna hear. Cause -9-----7----5--9--7--5----5-- that's just who I am this week.
    jstitch wrote: Do you have any certain recomendations on how to clean the guitar or what I can buy?
    If you live near a guitar shop you can buy this kit of special cleaning equipment theres about 5 bottles in it and theres everything in it to clean your guitars body to the fretboard, i got mine at a nearby Long and Mcquade.
    Mi_sung wrote: mj_da_best: can sum1 pleas recommend a relatively easy tab for a rock song for a beginner. i hav a ok electric and a distortion pedal. plez help me!!!!!
    try background guitar for nirvana E|----- B|----- G|----- D|----- A|-----0-0-----2--2 E|0-0-1-2--2--2-2-2-0--0- - not detailed but sounds ok
    This seriously helped me in choir class... I couldn't differenciate between the ABCDEFG thing and the do-re-mi thing... If that makes sense...
    good one dude thats a good help!!! ..UGstranger its time you went downstairs and had tea with your parents they'll be getting worried about you.
    cool lesson Im ashamed to admit that i enjoyed the little "my favourite things" riff
    Do you have any certain recomendations on how to clean the guitar or what I can buy?
    In reply to ur request mj_da_best, a real easy song for beginnging rock guitarists is Adam's Song by Blink 182 look on the site for the tab. Good luck
    mj_da_best: can sum1 pleas recommend a relatively easy tab for a rock song for a beginner. i hav a ok electric and a distortion pedal. plez help me!!!!!
    lol i just skimmed through is its kinda confusing but i think i can make sense outta it after reading it a few times