Ear Training Song Randomizer
Click the Get Next Starting Note & Song button to generate a random starting note and song title. Try to play the tune by ear (as much of it as you know), starting on the suggested starting note. You can use the checkboxes to isolate specific song types.
PLAYING BY EAR
Every jazz improviser needs to be able to play by ear, at least to some extent. When I say "play by ear", I'm referring to the ability to play any musical phrase, in any key, on your instrument without reading the notes. The only guidance you have is a mental concept of what the phrase should/could sound like.
While even the best improvisers have a series of licks or cliches that they incorporate in their solos, the *real* music in their improvisation often comes from spontaneous ideas that strike them during a solo. How do they perform unrehearsed musical ideas without written notation? They play by ear!
WHY SIMPLE SONGS ARE USEFUL
Simple songs (nursery rhymes, Christmas carols, easy popular songs, etc) are a great way to get started because they are fairly easy to play and because you already know exactly how they *should* sound. This simplicity improves your chances of being able to play by ear. It also makes it easier to play the songs over a variety of keys (i.e. from different starting notes).
SUGGESTIONS FOR BEGINNERS
Sing First, Play Later: If the starting note is a 'C', play a 'C' on your instrument and then sing the tune beginning on that note. Don't try to play by ear until you can sing the melody (reasonably) in tune. Singing first should help you to lock in the pitches, improving your chances of playing the notes on your instrument.
Play Slowly: While training your ear to guide you through the melodies, play everything at a slow tempo. A slow tempo will help you to better hear a pitch and its relation to other pitches. As you improve, increase the tempo.
Simplify the Goal: We're trying to reach a point where we can play anything in any key totally by ear. At first, however, it might be best to focus on a few easy tunes with a comfortable starting note (C). While a comfortable starting note doesn't guarantee that the entire tune will be in a comfortable key, for most of the tunes on this list, you're fairly safe. As your accuracy improves, add more starting notes and tunes to your routine.
Be Patient: If you're just beginning to develop your ear, playing simple songs by ear may be frustrating at first. Like all musical endeavors, it becomes easier with practice. In time, you'll be amazed at how much easier it is to play what you hear!
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