Only 1 in 10 Guitar Players Can Do This...

One of the most important things a musician can do is develop their ear. If a musicians ear is excellent they can quickly learn songs, understand phrases on their instrument with little to no effort, and they can even successfully perform live on stage in situations where they don't even know the songs... 

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Some of this might sound pretty unbelievable - but really good musicians are that good because they have a fantastic sense of hearing when it comes to music.

Watch the Video:

One of the ways that musicians work at developing their ear is through transcription. Which means learning to play a song without any sheet music, chord notation, or TAB charts. The song is basically listened to and learned by testing different notes and chords though trial and error.

There's nothing wrong with this. In fact this work is very good work. I did this myself when I was a teenager and also through my early career in the 1990's, because at the time, there was no internet, or song TAB's available, aside what was published in the guitar magazines, and the books you could buy at local music stores.

After a musician begins studying music quite seriously, they'll quickly discover a subject known of as, "Ear Training." Once this subject is practiced, musicians begin learning how to hear individual notes through association. And, at that point their musical memory begins to really take hold.

The most popular method of Ear Training is called, "Relative Pitch." And, it involves developing an understanding for hearing the distance between two notes. Most commonly, this training begins out of learning the sounds of two note intervals from the Major Scale.

In this session, I'd like to take a run through several popular intervals that only about 1 in 10 guitarists can actually properly identify.
The first group of intervals I want to take a run through are called "Perfect." They include the "Octave," the "4th and the 5th," as well as, "Unisons." In the video, I've placed a mask over my guitar fingerboard, and you should first listen to my example intervals (you can test yourself on them to find out if you know which ones are which). Afterward, in the video I scan over the answers so you can find out how you did.

Next let's run through the category known of as the "Major Intervals." We'll approach this in exactly the same way, I've placed a mask over my guitar neck in the video, (so you can't see what I'm doing). Then, listen to that segment of the video so you can test yourself to find out if you can figure out these intervals. The answers are given in the video after the quiz section.

Finally, we'll cover the sound of the minor intervals. Again, our approach will be the exact same manner as we'd approached the other intervals. I'll mask over my neck and you can listen to each interval. Work at developing each one by ear and find out if you can discover what interval name it is that I'm performing. The answers are once again given after the quiz.

Now that we've covered the main interval types of; Perfect, Major and Minor you've got a good idea of what the first steps should be in building a practice routine that'll push both your ear skills and guitar playing skills to a whole other level.

Keep in mind that when it comes to ear training one of the most important things that you can do is develop the ability to recognize the distance from one note over to another. This will go a long way to helping you hear musical ideas used in any piece of music.

I hope you've learned some valuable ideas to start practicing in this lesson. I cover all of these ear training ideas (and more - yes there's more intervals like Augmented and Diminished), in my guitar programs and I have many more lessons devoted to building skills around hearing notes and learning melodic phrases by ear.

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  1. You made this pretty easy by telling the viewer what you were giving them, (i.e., Perfect, Major and Minor). In the real world they won't know what intervals are coming their way.