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As with all other musical skills, there are many different levels and kinds of proficiency. One musician may be very good at "playing by ear", but may not even read music and cannot name intervals or write the music down. Another may be very good at "taking dictation" (writing down the music they hear), and yet feel unable to do jazz improvisation. As always, the key is to practice the particular skills that you want to develop.

Ear training skills


This is the most basic ear training skill, crucial to being able to play music that people will want to hear.


  • At the beginner level, work with a skilled musician who can teach you how to tune your instrument and help you identify and fix tuning problems.
  • Play with other musicians often. (Playing along with recordings does not teach good tuning skills.) Don't just tune at the beginning of rehearsals and performances. Listen at all times and be ready to retune any note whenever necessary.
  • Spend as much time as necessary tuning whenever you play. Do not (knowingly) practice while out of tune; if you do, it will slow down your ear training tremendously. Whenever possible, until you are good at tuning, get someone else to help you tune every time you play.
  • Practice tuning quickly and accurately. Learn any alternate fingerings and other "tricks" available on your instrument for fine-tuning each note as you play.

Playing chords by ear

For instruments that play chordal accompaniments, this is an incredibly useful skill.


  • You do not have to learn to read music to be able to do this, but it is very helpful to know a little bit about music theory so that you can predict which chords are most likely to happen in a song. Try starting with Beginning Harmonic Analysis .
  • Really listen to the chord progressions to the songs you do know. What do they sound like? Play the same progressions in different keys and listen to how that does and also does not change the sound of the progression. Change the bass notes of the chords to see how that changes the sound of the progression to your ears. Change fingerings and chord voicings, and again listen carefully to how that changes the sound to your ears.
  • Practice figuring out the chords to familiar songs (that you don't know the chords to). For songs that you do know the chords to, try playing them in an unfamiliar key, or see if you can change or add chords to make a new harmony that still fits the melody.
  • A teacher who understands harmony can help tremendously with this particular skill. Even if you don't normally take lessons, you might want to consider having a series of lessons on this. Find a teacher who is willing and able to teach you specifically about harmony and typical chord progressions.

Playing tunes by ear

This is fun to be able to do, makes it easy to increase your repertoire, and is an important step in being able to improvise.


  • Just do it! The best way to learn this skill is to spend some of your practice time trying to play tunes you know and like.
  • Once you start getting good at this, see how quickly you can get a new tune down. How few mistakes can you make the first time you try it? Can you "recover" quickly from a mistake by making it sound like a bit of improvisation?
  • If you play a melody instrument (one that plays only one note at a time), there are different bits of information that help you recognize what the next note will be: how far it is from the note you are on (see Interval ), where it is in the key (see Beginning Harmonic Analysis ) or where it is in the chord (see Triads ). These three things are all related to each other, of course - and a musician with a well-trained ear will be aware of all of them, at least subconsciously - but you may find at first that one works better for you than the others. You may want to experiment: is it easier for you to think of the next note as being a perfect fourth higher than the note you are on, or as being the root of the chord, or as being the fifth note in the scale of the key?
  • As of this writing, petersax-online had many exercises graded from simple to more difficult to help the beginner practice playing what you hear.

Questions & Answers

are nano particles real
Missy Reply
Hello, if I study Physics teacher in bachelor, can I study Nanotechnology in master?
Lale Reply
no can't
where we get a research paper on Nano chemistry....?
Maira Reply
nanopartical of organic/inorganic / physical chemistry , pdf / thesis / review
what are the products of Nano chemistry?
Maira Reply
There are lots of products of nano chemistry... Like nano coatings.....carbon fiber.. And lots of others..
Even nanotechnology is pretty much all about chemistry... Its the chemistry on quantum or atomic level
no nanotechnology is also a part of physics and maths it requires angle formulas and some pressure regarding concepts
Preparation and Applications of Nanomaterial for Drug Delivery
Hafiz Reply
Application of nanotechnology in medicine
has a lot of application modern world
what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
ya I also want to know the raman spectra
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
yes that's correct
I think
Nasa has use it in the 60's, copper as water purification in the moon travel.
nanocopper obvius
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
analytical skills graphene is prepared to kill any type viruses .
Any one who tell me about Preparation and application of Nanomaterial for drug Delivery
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
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Source:  OpenStax, Music fundamentals 3: minor scales and keys. OpenStax CNX. Jun 19, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10717/1.2
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