All profit supporting special needs music education and Help Musicians

Beginner Ear training - how?


New Member
Although the sax is already my third instrument I never had any ear training, what I really regret! Can I still learn this (I'm 25)? And how? Where do I start? My main goal is that I'll be able to play songs by ear and doing jazz improvisations!


Well-Known Member
Manchester, UK
Although the sax is already my third instrument I never had any ear training, what I really regret! Can I still learn this (I'm 25)? And how? Where do I start? My main goal is that I'll be able to play songs by ear and doing jazz improvisations!
Definitely not too old. I'm in my 50s and have improved my ear a long way (from a rather low base line!) over the last 2 or 3 years. As well as the usual stuff like playing simple songs and movie themes by ear I've been using some software called EarMaster. Don't know if it's any better or worse than anything else. Also there are some free ear training exercises here:
Last edited by a moderator:


Senior Member
Nr. Bandung, Indonesia
The most interesting - and I think productive - way is playing along with literally anything - or trying to play any tune that you know without music.

There is an iPhone app called Relative Pitch, that I've also used.

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Burnley bb9 9dn
Man!! 25? Much too late. Pack it all in and book your chair in the old folks home.

Bleedin' kids!

I read, on a matchbox I think, "You'll never be as young again as you are now"


New Member
Haha, sorry, I'm actually not a fan of "you can't teach an old dog new tricks", so I don't know why I even asked this. But you'd be surprised - when I wanted to play bass at the age of 10, many people told my parents not to invest in this since it's to late to learn your first instrument!

I got he software and app you suggested. Very easy to learn with it! But what I find very difficult is recognizing notes and intervals of someone's singing!


One prosecco, two prosecco, three prosecco - floor
Café Supporter
The Millenium Falcon
Listening lots and lots will help with ear training. Also have a list of songs for interval recognition. Here are a few to choose from:

What's New?
Nice Work if you can get it
San Francisco (Left my heart)
I Remember You
I'm Getting Sentimental over You
Bye Bye Black Bird
Stormy Weather
It's Been a Hard Day's Night (Beatles)

O Little Town of Bethlehem
Joy to the World
The Theme (M. Davis)
Sophisticated Lady
Stella by Starlight
The Lady is a Tramp
Solar (M. Davis)
Shall We Dance (The King and I)
Fur Elise
Hernando's Hideaway
Happy Birthday
Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer
Silent Night
There Will Never be Another You
Tennessee Waltz
My Funny Valentine
Body and Soul
They Say, Ruby
Frere Jacques
Doe, a Deer (Sound of Music)

Mary had a Little Lamb
Deck the Halls
Away in a Manger
Yesterday (Beatles)
On the Sunny Side of the Street
Freddie Freeloader
Three Blind Mice
Whistle While You Work
Mary Had a Little Lamb
Blue Moon
Satin Doll
Tune Up
My Girl
The First Noel

Work Song
Georgia on my Mind
A Foggy Day
The Impossible Dream
Somewhere my Love
O Canada
Oh Where, Oh Where has my Little dog Gone?
Brahm's Lullaby
So Long, Farewell (Sound of Music)

Frosty the Snowman
What is This Thing Called Love?
500 Miles High (C. Corea)
When Irish Eyes are Smiling
Hey Jude
Peter Gunn
You're a Grand Old Flag
This Old Man
Jesus Loves Me
Star Spangled Banner

Oh When the Saints
I Can't Get Started
Kum Ba Yah
While Shepherds Watched
Sweet Hour of Prayer
Well I Come From Alabama
From the Halls of Montezuma
{Big Ben Sounding the Hour?}

Beethoven's Fifth
Swing Low Sweet Chariot
Good Night Ladies
Giant Steps
Come Rain or Come Shine
Bessie's Blues

Here Comes the Bride
Hark the Herald Angels Sing
Oh Christmas Tree
'Round Midnight
Maiden Voyage
We Wish You a Merry Christmas
All the Things
Song for my Father
Love me Tender
Auld Lang Syne
Aura Lee
The British Grenadiers
Amazing Grace
Someday my Prince Will Come
Day is Done (Taps)

Shave and a Haircut
Oh Come All Ye Faithful
Valse Hot (Not Intro!)
Yardbird Suite
Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise
I Didn't Know What Time it Was
Almighty Fortress is Our God
Baseball Chant
Bizet's "L'Arsienne"
Make New Friends
Bizet's Farandole
Born Free
I've Been Working on the Railroad

Maria (West Side Story)
The Simpsons

Blue Seven (Sonny Rollins)
European Siren
Twinkle, Twinkle
Theme from 2001
Whisper Not (Benny Golson)
Theme From Peanuts
Bags Groove
Lavender's Blue
Hey There Georgy Girl
Blackbird (Beatles)

7 Steps to Heaven (M. Davis)
Have You Met Miss Jones?
The Way You Look Tonight
Mozart's Minuet in G
Bring a Torch Jeannette Isabella
Love Story (third and fourth notes)
The Entertainer
Morning of the Carnival
Go Down Moses
The Entertainer (third and fourth notes)

Love Story Theme
Please Don't Talk About me When I'm Gone
You're Everything (C. Corea)
My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean
Theme from "The Sting"
Dashing Through the Snow
Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen
You're a Weaver of Dreams
Nobody Knows the Troubles I've Seen
O-ver There
Gonna Lay Down My Sword and Shield
There's a Place for Us (West Side Story)
Old Star Trek Theme
Have You Driven a Ford?
Somewhere (West Side Story)
I'll Close My Eyes

Watermelon Man (H. Hancock)
Theme from American in Paris
Little Red's Fantasy (Woody Shaw)
M7Cast Your Fate to the Wind
Theme from Fantasy Island
Bali Hai (South Pacific)

I Love You (?)
"Hee Haw" From the Grand Canyon Suite
Somewhere Over the Rainbow
A Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting)
Let it Snow!
McDonald's Commercial (?)
Del Sasser
Blue Bossa

There's No Business Like Show Business (Notes 2-3)
Willow Weep for Me
I Love You (The Other One)


Stuttgart region, Germany
I'd like to suggest some more training material:
For those short of cash, there is a free ear training software that can be installed on Ubuntu Linux.
The name is "GNU Solfege". Definitely not as good looking as EarMaster.

If you want to train your ability to play tunes after listening to them, I can recommend a great book + CD kit:
"Das Ohrenbuch" (The Ear Book) by Jochen Pöhlert. I don't know if it exists in English, but you certainly don't have to learn German to be able to use the original.

It consists of 160 carefully selected tunes (mainly German, Russian, and English/American traditional songs), starting with easy pieces, then gradually moving to more difficult ones, always with an emphasis on important intervals and chord changes. Many times, the tunes are not complete, but extracts, so that you don't have to spend ages on a single one. The author asks you to first sing a tune, then play it in the key of C, and finally transpose it into several other keys. It is cumbersome, but very effective.

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Burnley bb9 9dn
Stick the radio on...any station... play along. Sorted.

Play from memory as many melodies as you can remember. When you're comfortable in one key try the same thing in a different one.

It depends how you want to train your ear. Listening to quality music of any genre will help. Apart from that it's practice, practice, practice.

I have heard it said that four years old is too late to take up violin if you want to be a master. I think the saxophone is a little more flexible and who wants to be a master anyway. A little applause will suffice.

Popular Discussions

Top Bottom