Ear Training Skill 1: Recognizing Pitch

Ever been told you were tone deaf? If it were true, it would make the kind of ear training we have in mind very difficult, but that is probably not the case. Chances are you are hearing pitches within the normal range of accuracy. You may indeed be having trouble reproducing those pitches accurately with your voice — a difficulty that may have gotten you nudged indelicately out of the school choir or steered away from your chosen career as a cantor — but that's a separate issue. There are many fun tools you can use to explore and develop your ability to recognize pitch. Here are a couple free online resources to try now if you have any question on this score, or you just like games!

  • Note pair music game. Warning, this game can be addictive for certain personality types. Like, uh, mine. If you have any doubt as to whether you can recognize and remember pitch, this simple game will let you know. For our purposes, here's how I suggest you use it. (This will make more sense if you are already looking at the game's interface — a grid made up of 16 squares — so follow the link above before reading on.) Click on the upper left hand box, then quickly click through the other boxes until you hear the same pitch. If you lose your recollection of the first pitch, just go back, click it again and proceed. When you think you've found a match, click back and forth between those two boxes. If you are right, they will both disappear and you can try the same thing with the next box of your choice.
  • Distorted Tune Test: This test is brought to you by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. A series of familiar melodies are played, some correctly, some not. If you can tell which is which, your sense of pitch must be more or less intact. Yes? Try it!

Assuming you have determined you do in fact have the capacity to recognize and discern between pitches, let's proceed to Skill 2: Finding the tonal center of a piece of music.


The links below will help you navigate the Ear Training section of the website should you need to.