One of the most common ways to practice ear training intervals is to drill them. Listen to the intervals over and over again until they burned into memory.
The problem with that approach is that music almost never presents itself as a drill. So, even if you practice ear training drills and can pass tests with a 100%, it doesn’t mean you’ll be able to hear it in real life. And all the time spent drilling will seem like wasted effort.
Here is a way to practice ear training closer to real life. It’ll make hearing your intervals memorable. And, it’ll keep your ear training practice less frustrating.
How to practice ear training your intervals in a more effective way than drilling
An effective way to practice ear training intervals is to hear them in a musical situation or phrase.
By playing the interval within the context of music, you’ll learn how that interval feels.
When you start to recognize how each interval feels, you’ll be well on your way to mastering your intervals.
For example, let’s explore a tritone interval. A tritone interval feels a specific way.
Start out by playing a melodic phrase and then end your phrase with the interval you are focusing on.
In the key of Gb Major, a tritone would be C natural.
To start knowing how C natural feels over Gb, start playing melodic phrases in Gb Major that target a C natural.
You will start to notice that whenever you hit the C natural, the music feels a certain way. That is the feeling of a tritone.
You’ll also start recognizing familiar feelings when listening to songs. That’s when you know this is working for you.
Spend a lot time focusing and getting to know an interval before moving on to a different one.
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I have found Armen Donelian’s ear training books to be the most comprehensive and applicable to improvising. Check out this book on Amazon: By Armen Donelian Training the Ear: For the Improvising Musician [Paperback]