HomeLJS PodcastJazz Tips and AdviceLJS 79: The Power of Training Your Ear to Hear Chords

LJS 79: The Power of Training Your Ear to Hear Chords

Welcome to episode 79 of the LJS Podcast where today we are delving deeper into Ear Training Month which we are doing for the month of September. This lesson is all about hearing chords and how to do it. This is a deeper level of ear training that will have a huge impact on your playing. Listen in!

Listen to episode 79

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We’re in the middle of Ear Training Month here on the LJS Podcast and today’s lesson is all about hearing chords. This is the next step after intervals which we discussed in episode 78.

There are many reasons to learn to hear chords. Here are the top three:

  1. It’s crucial for learning songs by ear.
  2. It will help you hear the important notes to use when you improvise.
  3. Essential for hearing chord progressions.

If you are able to hear chords you are setting yourself up for success on multiple different levels in your musicianship.

There are three steps for training your ears to hear chords:

  1. Recognize the chord. Hear it being played and know it by name.
  2. Sing the arpeggio. Hear a reference note and sing the arpeggio up.
  3. Sing the chord tones. Hear a chord played and be able to sing the Root, 3rd, 5th, or 7th.

If you need extra help recognizing the basic triads and 7th chords, check out this quiz we have on chord recognition.

Here are the training tracks I used in the episode. For this example, I’m using a Major 7th chord.

Here’s what a major 7th chord sounds like:

The key is to get this sound deep in your ear so that when you hear other chord qualities you can distinguish.

Sing the arpeggio:

Listen to the root note, then sing root-3rd-5th-7th. There will be space for you to sing (or hum or whistle). Then listen for the piano to check your pitches. Were you correct?

Sing the chord tones:

Listen to the chord and the prompted chord tones. There will be space for you to sing. Then listen for the piano to check your pitch. Were you correct?

Recognizing the root is key.

By the way, if you want to get notified when our new ear training course “How to Play What You Hear” is released in October, sign up for our list.

This course covers in more depth the stuff we are working on during Ear Training Month, and guides you through a step-wise process.

Have anything to add to today’s show? Leave a comment below.

Important Links:
LJS Inner Circle Membership
Free Guide to learn standards by ear: Learn Jazz Standards the Smart Way

Brent Vaartstra
Brent Vaartstrahttp://www.brentvaartstra.com
Brent Vaartstra is a professional jazz guitarist and educator living in New York City. He is the head blogger and podcast host for learnjazzstandards.com which he owns and operates. He actively performs around the New York metropolitan area and is the author of the Hal Leonard publication "Visual Improvisation for Jazz Guitar." He's also the host of the music entrepreneurship podcast "Passive Income Musician."

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