Click the Get Next Starting Note & Song button to generate a random starting note and song title for your chosen Song Types. Try to play the song by ear (as much of it as you know), starting on the suggested Starting Note. For a greater challenge, use the metronome at the top right to help maintain a strict tempo when playing back the notes.Note: unlike my Online Ear Trainer, this ear training tool does not produce any audio (aside from the metronome).
While there are many ways to practice ear training, one of my favorite exercises is to play familiar songs by ear. Since I already know how each song should sound, I can focus entirely its pitches, without having to think about what comes next. I also like the fact that the process of hearing a melody in my head, while simultaneously playing it on my instrument, is exactly the same sequence of events that occurs during jazz improvisation.
When I first started practicing songs in random keys, I'd occasionally draw a blank when trying to think of a new song to try. To eliminate that problem, I created this song randomizer. Now, with a click of a button it will select from over 400 song titles and give me a random starting note.
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!