Ears are needed to perceive and play music. Therefore, it’s essential for a good musician to have a fantastic ear. The better your ear gets the better musician you become. Here are five things that every musician should practice to improve note recognition.
Learn and sing solfege of your favorite tunes
We all have our favorite music, songs that we have loved since childhood. If you listen carefully, you will find a lot of these songs have relatively simple melodies, which can be hummed easily. I recommend instead of just humming them, sit with any one song, and figure out the solfege. Once you know the solfege, sing it, as you will hum any other song. You can do this while walking on the street, while bathing, while driving etc. basically anywhere and everywhere.
Soon you will find out your interval and note recognition will improve, and you will start noticing similarities in the tunes of various songs. This will in-turn increase your transcribing and playing ability as well.
Practice singing at random intervals
While you are walking, driving, bathing, there is a lot of ideal time where your mind is on an automatic mode. Singing random intervals like Do-So, Mi-Le, etc. while doing such activities can enhance your note recognition ability greatly.
Doing this for an extended period will result in the formation of strong interval relationships in your subconscious mind. This will in-turn make you consciously hear these intervals while listening to songs. You are thus achieving better ears.
Singing without solfege
Once you start getting the notes in your head, singing tunes without using solfege is a good practice.
Using solfege gets your brain to think about intervals, and you slowly start recognizing notes internally. After this, when you try to sing notes using ‘la la la’ or ‘aaaa’, you internally know what notes and intervals you are singing. Hence making you more aware of the intervals and note relationship.
Develop internal hearing
Internal hearing is a critical practice that almost everyone in the musician’s community strives to achieve. Being able to listen to notes and intervals in your head is an ability that comes with practice.
One thing you can do is to ‘think before you sing’. This means that while you are practicing ear training, especially intervals, you should always try to hear the note in your head first and then try to get it out through your voice. This forces your brain to think hard and get it right.
This will not come in one day, it will take a few years or months depending upon your ability and practice time, but once it happens then, it will be natural and effortless.
Solfege, internal hearing, singing without solfege; all these things will come in handy if you start transcribing. Transcribing music will help you understand note relationship better and push your mind to understand quick notes.
The more you will transcribe, the more you will start recognizing patterns and stronger your note recognition will become.
Note recognition is a skill that takes time and effort. There are no shortcuts. Perseverance is the key. Giving small chunks of time every day can improve your skill level drastically and yield amazing results.
Good luck and keep listening 🙂