How can singers improve their musical ears?

A key component in being a good singer is having strong musical ears to support your voice. How can you get a strong musical ear? The solution is ear training. However, with so many different types of ear training available, how do you know what to focus on as a singer?

Here’s the simple answer: if you’re looking to to improve your listening skills in order to sing better, you must work on focusing on your pitch and your relative pitch. Improving your sense of pitch means being able to more accurately hear how high or low notes are, and whether they are in tune. Improving your sense of relative pitch helps you to understand the relationships between notes and more easily sight-sing from sheet music and sing pitch jumps in melodies more reliably.

The benefits of ear training for singers

Ear training for pitch and relative pitch helps in numerous ways:

Better intonation

Pitch ear training builds your core sense of pitch. A more accurate sense of pitch helps a singer to know whether they’re singing in tune and hitting the ideal notes.

More powerful musical expression

Developing relative pitch skills enables the singer to naturally and artfully manipulate their voice to create sounds like vibrato, slides, and more in order to create more skillful performances.

Easier sight-singing

Working on your interval recognition skills will help you not be as intimidated by the giant leaps in some musical scores. You should learn how to sing them confidently and directly.

Harmonic awareness

It’s rare for people to sing completely unaccompanied by another person or instrument. A singer must be aware of how they fit within the band or group and where they fall into the ideal harmony. Chord ear training can help build this appreciation of harmonic music.

How to start ear training for singing

If you’ve never trained your ears before you should start by taking a free introductory ear training course to explain the why, what, who and how of this important skill.

Once you understand the “big picture” it’s time to choose your topic – for a singer this will be pitch and/or relative pitch – and set your goals. For example, you might want to:

  • Always sing in tune
  • Achieve better blending in your choir
  • Be able to sight read music
  • Sing large pitch jumps easily
  • Improve your intonation and musical expression

When you’re clear on your goals it’s time to plan the route that will help you achieve them. You can find resources and exercises online to support you in this.

For many singers, step one will be practising singing in tune or singing a more steady pitch.

The SingTrue app is designed to help with this whole process, layout out clear goals and a progression for you, and training your ears in parallel with your voice throughout, so that you develop a strong, reliable, and well-rounded musicianship.

Whether you choose to use the app or not, the steps above will set you on the right path to developing a strong musical ear to help you become an excellent singer.