Ear Training for Non-Singers

Question: Actually I am a dance student, but I know my inner ear could use training – just to be a better listener.

What kind of inner ear training exercises might I practice to start? (Those few times that I’ve heard that inner ear communication with myself, it was awesome!)

P.S. Thanks for an amazing site – u rock dude!

– Gianna (United States)

Albert’s reply: Thanks for your kind words about the site, Gianna! For non-musicians, the most important ear training you can do is to get to know the tonic. This is the first note (scale degree 1) in a scale, and it’s the most important one.

The tonic is usually easy to pick out. It’s the note to which all the others ultimately lead. The tonic is to the scale what the downbeat is to rhythm. As a dancer, I’m sure you have no trouble finding the downbeat!

Let’s take “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” as an example: “Twin-kle, twin-kle lit-tle star, how I won-der what you…”

The next note (“are”) is the tonic. In fact, it’s bothersome not to hear the tonic because the music is left unresolved. Apparently Mozart’s father used to wake up little Mozart by playing a scale except for the last note (the tonic). Wolfgang would then jump out of bed and rush to the piano to play that note!

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