Do you want to determine the keys of songs and visualize guitar parts when you hear them? You will be able to do this, if you will practice with intention, following the tips below. These tips will not give you the perfect pitch, but they will definitely help you to improve your ear for music.
Listen to music intentionally
It is easy to distinguish a musician from non-musician by how they listen to music. Musicians are focusing on music, but non-musician play it in the background. If you want to develop a musical ear, you have to listen to music intentionally, even if you are in a noisy place like supermarket.
Another way for improving of musical ear is listening to your favorite album. Take a physical notepad, sit down, listen to that album and take notes. By taking notes you have to answer following questions – what does the production feel like, how are background vocalists enhancing the lead, how is each instrument arranged, what is the drummer’s groove, what is the keyboardist playing, what type of strum is the acoustic guitar rocking, how is the electric guitar tone? Of course, this list could go on for ages, but answering on these questions is a great beginning.
Mimic what you hear
Unfortunately listening is not enough – you have to copy it. When you hear some theme or part you love, try it out! Challenge yourself until you have got it. To take this exercise to another level, learn not only themes or parts, but also entire songs.
Play different games
When you hear some music, wherever you are, challenge yourself and your friends to determine the keys of the song. To play this game someone has to know actual keys to check answers of participants. The more you will practice, the better you will become. This game will improve your musical ear in a fun way, unlike boring and exhausting trainings.
Practice in weird keys
“Weird” keys like C# or Ab are great for developing of your musical ear. Practice in weird keys is harder, because it is higher level, but it definitely helps to orientate in any key, not only in simple keys. Actually it is not that hard as it may seem, because these “weird” keys sound weird, so they can be recognized easier that “clean” keys. It is recommended to challenge yourself in keys in which you are not currently good, because doing what you have always done is too simple.
Take additional lessons
Good musicians are not musicians who are perfect, but musicians who are constantly improving their skills. Every musician can be twice as good as it is with additional lessons. Even professional musicians who are playing their instruments for over 20 years have to take additional lessons for self-development, because nobody is perfect and never will. Be a lifelong learner on your own, but to beat yourself as a musician you have to find a coach.