Ear training will improve your students’ ability to create music and help them have more fun at the piano. Piano improv is so much easier and more fun when a student has a well-trained ear!
When a student wants to create a song, they may hear the melody they want to play in their mind, but without formal training, it can be difficult to know how to replicate the melody on their instrument. Ear training teaches students the relationship between notes, making it easier to write down or play their songs. Students love composing and improvising their own songs, and developing their listening skills will help them create with ease.
A good ear also opens up the fun of playing by ear. Yes, playing by ear is a skill that can be developed, and it’s such a thrill for kids to be able to sit down at their piano and pick out the melody to their favorite song from the radio.
Most Popular Ear Training Resources
I’ve found that one of the most effective ways to learn to recognize music intervals is to associate each interval with a familiar song, and I typically use songs which feature the interval at the beginning so that it’s easy for kids to catch on. The technique becomes even more effective when I use visuals alongside the songs. I drew these fun pictures to help my students remember which interval number goes with which song. I’ve named them Intervaltoons (TM) and my students love them! Click here to read more about this ear training strategy and print the visuals for the four perfect intervals.
Cookie decorating is a fun introductory melodic dictation game. Teacher plays a series of three pitches and students fill in the missing third note on their answer card. For every correct answer, they earn treats to decorate their cookies. This is a best-loved ear training game, not only in my studio, but in the studios of countless piano teachers throughout the world. I get tons of emails and comments from teachers talking about how much their students love this game. Click here to start using this game with your students.
Another ear training essential is learning to differentiate major and minor chords. For many students this comes quite easily after working through a few examples, and especially if they have been learning their scales and chords as they’ve progressed through their lessons. How Are You Feeling, Mr. Monster is an ear training worksheet where kids listen to the chord played by the teacher and then draw a happy or sad face to correspond with what they hear. It’s a simple activity that gives kids a big confidence boost and will help them as they harmonize their songs. Click here to print and read the full instructions for this worksheet.
Not only does ear training help students create music and have more fun at the piano, it also helps them become more critical listeners and be better able to hear correct and incorrect notes as they learn new pieces. You will notice better overall musicianship as you make ear training an integral part of your instruction. Check out the links below for more fun ear training activities and tips on how to do ear training with kids.