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The Trained Ear
BETA

Welcome to The Trained Ear, a free online resource for music students and their instructors. Strengthening the connections between listening to musical sounds, looking at their notational respresentations, and writing these notations yourself is a fundamental aspect of any musician's training. And while this site was developed primarily with the student of Western art music in mind, it is hoped that musicians from a wide variety of other traditions will also find it useful.

How to use this site:

To begin using The Trained Ear, simply click the “exercises” link at the top of this page or use the menu below to navigate to a more specific location. You will find exercises to help you practice your rhythmic, melodic, and harmonic dicatation skills in a variety of categories. Click on one of the numbers below the category heading to open a particular exercise.

Once an exercise has been selected, you will see an audio player and a fragment of staff notation showing the the clef, time signature, key signature, and, most importanly, the starting note or chord. Copy this information to a piece of staff paper. (For melodic and harmonic exercises, you will also see a smaller audio player for the corresponding scale. Use this to orient your ear in the key before listening to the melody or progression.)

When you are ready to begin, press the play button and listen to the recording. Before the rhythm/melody/progression begins, you will hear a count-off that corresponds with the meter of the exercise: a high note for the downbeat followed by one or more low notes for each successive offbeat. NOTE: Many of the exercises on this site do not begin on a downbeat. In these case you will hear a second, partial measure of count-off beats.

To check your work, simply click the musical notation to reveal the remainder of the passage!

About:

There currently exist a number of sites and applications designed to help students master the rudiments of aural recognition—intervals, scales, chord qualities, etc. These are wonderful resources for students just starting down the path to developing their musical listening skills, but very few of them offer training in areas beyond what students might encounter in a first-semester college musicianship course.

Too often, students would come to us expressing frustration that the supplemental training to which they'd grown accustomed fell short once their instructors started testing them on more complicated melodies and chromatic chord progressions. Our goal in creating The Trained Ear was to fill this void. We have included a full array of dictation exercises from straightforward rhythms consisting only of quarter- and half-notes to complicated harmonic progressions incorporating secondary dominants and other non-diatonic sonorities.

Many of the exercises here are taken from Benjamin Cowell's outstanding Eyes and Ears: An Anthology of Melodies for Sight-Singing . Others were written by Timothy Sullivan, Andre Mount, Jerod Sommerfeldt, and Gregory Wanamaker. And we hope to keep growing! More is always better and redundancy is never an issue. New ideas and exercises are always welcome. Contributors should take note of the Creative Commons licensing that allows us to keep The Trained Ear free for students. To get in touch, send us an email!