Until age 17, I was an average music student. Despite having all the passion in the world, my music grades ranged between B’s and C’s. I even remember the embarrassment of having to retake one music exam in order to pass the year. I lacked confidence, felt scared to raise my hand in class, and the music I was making did not resemble what I heard inside.
But at age 18 I started working out songs by ear – simple Christmas carols to begin with, progressing to pop songs and tv theme tunes. As my ear developed, so did every other musical skill – my knowledge of music theory, my ability to compose and find the actual notes and chords I was imagining, I could improvise with confidence, and jam with other musicians.
Very quickly, within 3 – 4 months, my confidence grew, and I became the top student in my ear training labs. Working out songs by ear became ‘my thing’, and I went on to graduate with a first class honors degree in music (the equivalent of a 4.0 GPA, or an A+), and gained my masters degree in music composition – which I attribute entirely to developing relative pitch. Had I not worked on developing my ear first, none of this would have happened, and I’d still be frustrated, and unable to channel my passion in a focused way.
Once I learnt relative pitch, I found that I could:
- Enjoy music on a deeper level. I found myself completely immersed when listening to music. I knew which notes and chords were being played, could make educated guesses at what each musician would play next, and imagined which notes and chords I would play if I were jamming with the band. I could understand the music, understand the composer’s thought process, and of course, could still enjoy the music emotionally as I did before.
- It felt like I was practicing music all the time. Anytime I was at a coffee shop, bar, night club, watching a movie, when someone’s ringtone went off, when a car passed playing music – I found a new part of my brain working every time I heard music playing – and not just when I was at my instrument. I’ve even gone months without touching an instrument, yet feel completely active in music because I don’t rely on my instrument to practice – listening is a workout for me.
- My ear became my biggest teacher. I’ve never read a book about funk, yet I can talk for days about the norms of funk music, and the same for any other musical genre – country, jazz, blues, film soundtracks, early classical, 20th century classical, and so on. Although I’ve had some great teachers, and read many books, the VAST MAJORITY of what I know is from transcribing music by ear – listening to funk music and observing the norms from one song to the next. Doing the same for country music, blues music, and so on. But this only possible when you can understand what you’re hearing.
- I could hear how music would sound just by looking at the sheet music.
- I became confident in my ability to decide whether music was good or bad. I could tell how good a composer was by listening to their music. I could tell when the composer hadn’t quite found the right chord, and knew which chord they’d have preferred to use if only they’d known about it.
MUSICAL AWARENESS IS PROPORTIONAL TO EAR TRAINING
Understanding the vital role ear training has played in my own development (and in every successful musician’s development), I’ve modeled my own ear training discovery into a course. I want to share my exact path with you. I genuinely want you to enjoy what I get to enjoy daily, and I’ve spent a lot of time testing and refining this material into something that works.