An aspiring jazz trumpet player's blog about jazz improvisation and ear training.

February 1, 2004 Jazz Blog 2 Comments

Ear trainer update

I updated the Ear Trainer with a new exercise and interval associations.

Looking at my server logs, I can see that very few people have tried the ear training tool. I really hope this is because my visitors already have great relative (or absolute) pitch, or they already have some other method they use.

I fear, though, that it's because many players don't feel the need to develop their ears. It just never enters their mind. I'm not trying to be critical of anyone. After all, I didn't know anything about ear training until my freshman year of college (and I was a music major!). But, when I did learn about ear training, and when I realized it was the key to understanding and creating music, I was really upset that I hadn't been doing it all along.

So, what are you waiting for?

Comment by san

I think its because your ear trainer, although I find it helpful - it gives you the answers a little too quickly. I can't think that fast. In fact I am pretty rubbish at all the theory. I get bogged down with thinking about all the scales I haven't learnt yet and all the chords I still don't know what scales to play over them. If I play arpeggios over the chords thats all I end up doing. I'm just rubbish when it comes to scales.

Your song randomizer - now that is something else. Half an hour on that and I thought i'd have a go at playing along with my 'developing jazz techniques' book and cd. I played the head, and then when it came to the solo I ignored the book and played what I felt like. Made loads of mistakes but it was way way better than anything I played using scales. It had character, rhythm and I enjoyed it.

So now i'm stuck on what to do. The song randomizer is part of my practice now, definitely - I love it. But what about the scales and chords? For me its slightly easier to play around first and figure out what key i'm playing from later. Although that would help my theory, the tendancy is to ignore what key I'm playing in, be lazy and forget about figuring it out. If I did that then I'm neglecting learning the theory. And I feel that might be a handicap in the long run.

Comment by Rick

Hi San,

You may not have noticed, but the post to which you commented was written on Feb 1, 2004. At that time, my ear trainer had just gone online. Since that time, there have been dozens of new feature additions and one total rewrite. Today's version of the ear trainer is actually fairly popular, with an average of 150 people trying/using it each day!

Have you tried various PlayMode settings to delay the answers? If not, try setting the delay to "XXL". If you're working in manual mode, simply wait until you're ready before looking at the answer.

It's great to hear that the song randomizer is opening your ears and allowing you to be freer when improvising. I wouldn't worry too much about theory at this time. I think it's much more important to improve your aural skills. You can learn theory at any point in time and you can learn it at whatever pace makes sense to you and your schedule. For instance, if you have 30 minutes to practice ear training and theory, you could spend 25 minutes on ear training and 5 minutes on theory. During that 5 minutes, focus on just one or two things and you'll gradually improve your understanding of theory.

If you haven't already, be sure to try the simple song exercises that appear under the "Melodies" tab of the ear training tool (look under the "Each box is a..." dropdown. I really like using that feature myself along with the jazz licks exercise. Another thing you could try are the call and response exercises on the RSection tab. You can practice both ear training and theory on that page as you try to play back what you hear over a given chord type.

Best wishes,


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