Is Ear Training Important To A Singer?
Ear training is something of a misnomer. You’re not really training your ear, you’re training your mind to understand the language of music. And yes, it’s very, very important for a singer. Ear training is simply part of becoming a good musician and helps you gain a better understanding of pitch, keys, scales, intervals, chords and a lot of other stuff that’s going on in music without even having to touch an instrument. In other words, you can get your musicianship up to such a high level that you’ll look at sheet music and be able to hear it in your head. At the very least you’ll be able to pick out melodies and basic harmonies.
That’s pretty cool – it’s basically like musical superpowers.
What it really comes down to is your ability to really concentrate on music and pick it apart into its components.
When most singers go to a voice program in a university, they’re required to take aural theory classes.
What this usually entails is learning solfegge, (think “do, re, mi, fa, so…”) and being able to read music. It also involves being able to identify harmonies and scales just with your ear and then singing them back. This is a lot harder than you might think.
What they’re really teaching you is how to make your mind and your voice the only instrument you need to read, create and understand music. Many professional singers, and musicians in general, who are on the highest levels, can simply look at a piece of sheet music and know in their heads how it’s going to sound! That’s right, you can learn to do that!
In fact, if your goal is to sing professionally and make a career out of it, this is a skill that you’ll slowly need to acquire, just like keeping a low larynx, learning about mastering breath control and and other important skills to a singer.
Singing without understanding music will limit your ability to enjoy and appreciate music intellectually AND emotionally and that’s why ear training is so incredibly important.
You’ll pick up some of these lessons with a good singing instructor but essentially, you’ll need to look beyond singing lessons, which focus primarily on singing proper, and take some ear training courses.
A very effective alternative is to use some ear training software such as Singorama to work on your ear training stuff at home. This is what I did when I was in school for music and I excelled beyond the other students thanks to my hard work.
Remember, everything about singing and ear training is a skill that takes time, dedication and patience. If you love singing, stay with it and take it one day at a time, and eventually you’ll get to where you want to be and you’ll appreciate how far ear training has taken you…consistency is key!