Hearing is one of our senses. Most of us take it for granted. We use our ears everyday in conversation. For musicians hearing is the main sense of their craft.
Years ago I was singing in a mixed choir that sang in seniors homes once a week. Later we would practise new songs for the next month at a local church.
The accompaniment was a lady in her 80’s who was an excellent piano player. She easily could site read the four part harmonies that the choir was trying to sing.
Sing The Right Note
I was one of two tenors, and the leader had us sit in the front row. As we rehearsed a new song, I was having trouble finding my harmony line, and not singing the correct note. The pianist looked at me, I looked at her, and she was playing the note I was supposed to sing, repeatedly. This was to get me sing the proper note.
I was blown away by her ability to do what she did, during the song. I think this pianist lady had the biggest ears of any musician I have known.
We don’t think of our hearing as something to develop, but if you are a musician or an ukulele player, then you should know that your ears will develop over time.
We know that learning to play an instrument takes time and effort. On the ukulele, we need to get our right hand to strum the strings correctly, the left hand to play the chord shapes in time with the music, and our voices will develop the ability to sing the melody or harmony notes of our songs.
Ears Develop Too
And our ears develop over time too. One day when you hear a song with a chord progression of a 1 – 6 – 2 – 5, your ears tell you, you know what those chords !
Because you have played those chords in another song, your ears now recognize that sound, and your brain has assigned a chord progression to that sound.
The chords in the key of C are – 1 is C, 6 is Am, 2 is Dm, and 5 is G7.
Musician’s Ear Training Courses
If you google “musician ear training” there are a number of courses that come up. I have not taken any of these courses, but I think it would be a good idea.
It makes sense that musicians should develop their hearing skills, just as they develop their instrument playing skills.
Record Player Days
I played with musicians years ago, when we only had vinyl records to listen to and figure out how to play the song. At band practise, their hearing was developed enough to listen to the song, and quickly figure out the chord progression. A great talent to have.
Challenge your ears sometime to figure out a chord progression. Having some knowledge of music theory will help in this regard too.
Singing harmony is another great area to work on to help develop your ears, and your voice.
Singing harmony was not easy for me. Your ear often gets drawn to the highest melody note being sung, so trying to sing a lower harmony note, can be difficult.
I found if you practise the harmony line enough, your mind and voice start to consider that harmony line the melody.
Another tip, is to have the melody line singer a few feet away from you, so your singing will be the loudest to your ears. The melody line and other harmonies will not drown out your harmony line.
If you are singing in an ukulele group, have the person beside you sing the same harmony line, so you both should be singing the same notes, and get a strength in numbers effect.
All the best in developing Big Ears !