If you hear it you can play it
When someone writes down the most
important things that a guitarist should know but really has no concept of, most people
would draw their minds to theory, reading music, transposing , learning the fret board,
Yes all of those things are
detrimental to becoming a great guitarist but how can you play what you do not hear?
Aural skills (hearing, also known as
ear training) are what the foundation of a guitarist should be based upon.
How many times have you listened to
the radio and wished you could play that song,
"You know you
could if you had the music?"
That is the most overused phrase I
know. The steps to having a good ear are quite simple and I will show them to you in this
I warn you there are no pictures or
tab in this workout. These are tips on how to develop your ear... something that needs to
be looked at from a different approach (you'll see what I mean). Now it's time to dive in
and get started!
Step #1: Start to transcribe
(figure out by ear and write down) songs, chords, scales, solos, etc.
Do this by listening to the radio
and picking out certain notes. At first this will seem very hard but soon you'll land on a
note that is in tune with the song. Start thinking about the scales that surround that
particular note and play around with them.
Before you know it you'll be playing
with the pros. Don't expect it to be exactly like the song. You want to have your own
version. You might just want to write out the bass line (which is a good place to start
because for some slower songs you can hear the continuous four or five notes).
You also might want to write out the
solo. This is not as hard as you might be thinking. Keep in mind technique and try to
think of what kind of things they are doing. Are they using bends, slides, vibrato,
That would be a good indicator of
what to do with some of the notes that you may find.
Step #2: Start to transcribe
without your guitar. Whoa, that's hard right? Yeah it is but it will pinpoint your
You may be really good at finding
chords but have a difficult time trying to figure out if that note in a solo is sharp,
flat, or natural.
That would be a sign of where to
point your attention for a little while until you can get past that. Then, when another
thing comes along you tackle it with the aim of improving.
That's what we do, continuously
improve (kind of a nice thought isn't it). So if you were shaky when you first started to
transcribe I would bet money that you're doing better now, after all you can't get worse
than when you started. When your practice music, you never move backwards.
Step #3: Sing. Sing
everything you can get your hands on. If you think you can't sing you'll soon be able to
keep up a hum.
You should sing scales, arpeggios,
intervals, chords, etc. Sing with your guitar, it will help you stay in tune. It's not a
Hum until you get the right pitch of
that string, then move to the next note of the scale and the next, etc.
Then do it again and soon your ear
will develop and allow you to move faster and faster. I personally found this method to
really help me get better at transcribing and my playing improved overall as well.
Step #4: Think of some kind
of song in your head, something that sounds cool to you. Try to play it out on your
You may find something you like
better, that's fine! It's all about making your brain receptive to different tones and
sounds. Improv musicians use this technique a lot, something you'll learn about in the
Step #5: Find some free
software on the net. There are literally dozens out there and they will all help you
improve your ear. You need patience and discipline to do it but when you're finished
you'll really notice a difference.
Many people who are of age to go to
University or are already in University have the option of taking classes just for Aural
You can take it just as an elective
and you will most certainly improve dramatically. Many people speak of how they thought
they had an ear until they discovered their weaknesses in University/ College/ Community
In the end it comes down to personal
choice if you want to learn from a teacher or by yourself. Both will have the same results
if the time is put in.
Training your ear happens overtime.
While you don't have to use all of these tricks to get a good ear, if you use them all you
will gain experience quicker. I hope you enjoyed this lesson!