Interval training

Ear training, particularly with intervals, is crucial for guitar players and musicians in general. Intervals are the building blocks of music, and having a well-developed ear for them can significantly enhance your musical skills. 

I recommend using the free ear training software below for daily practice (just a few minutes every day). Regular, short intervals of ear training are often more effective than sporadic, longer sessions. Consistent practice using ear training software can sharpen your listening skills over time.

Recognising intervals with song association

Recognising intervals in music can be a challenging but rewarding skill. Here's a list of famous songs that can help you associate each interval with a memorable tune. Keep in mind that these associations are subjective, and different people might have different reference songs. Also, note that the quality (major, minor, perfect, etc.) of the intervals can vary depending on context.

Minor 2nd (m2):

  • Song: "Jaws Theme" (2 notes played in a descending pattern)

Major 2nd (M2):

  • Song: "Happy Birthday" (the first two notes)

Minor 3rd (m3):

  • Song: "Greensleeves" (the first two notes)

Major 3rd (M3):

  • Song: "When the Saints Go Marching In" (the first two notes)

Perfect 4th (P4):

  • Song: "Here Comes the Bride" (the first two notes)

Augmented 4th/Diminished 5th (A4/d5):

  • Song: "The Simpsons Theme" (between the first two notes)

Perfect 5th (P5):

  • Song: "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" (the first two notes)

Minor 6th (m6):

  • Song: "The Entertainer" (the first two notes)

Major 6th (M6):

  • Song: "NBC Chimes" (the first two notes)

Minor 7th (m7):

  • Song: "Somewhere" from West Side Story (the first two notes)

Major 7th (M7):

  • Song: "Take On Me" by A-ha (the first two notes of the chorus)

Perfect Octave (P8):

  • Song: "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" (the first two notes)

Feel free to use these examples as a starting point, and listen to them repeatedly to internalize the sound of each interval. As you become more familiar with these associations, you'll be better equipped to identify intervals in other songs and musical contexts. Remember, practice and repetition are key when developing your ear for intervals.

Why is ear training imPortant?

Here's why practicing ear training with intervals is important:

Melody Recognition: Ear training with intervals helps you recognize and identify melodies more accurately. This is especially important for guitar players who may need to play melodies by ear or improvise solos.

Chord Progression Recognition: Intervals play a crucial role in chord progressions. By training your ear to recognize intervals, you'll be better able to identify and play chord progressions, making it easier to play songs by ear.

Improvisation Skills: Guitarists often need to improvise during performances. A solid understanding of intervals allows you to improvise more effectively, as you can predict how different notes will sound against a given chord or progression.

Transcription Abilities: Ear training with intervals is invaluable for musicians who want to transcribe music. Whether you're transcribing a guitar solo or a piece of sheet music, being able to identify intervals helps you accurately translate what you hear into playable notes.

Enhanced Musical Communication: Musicians often communicate ideas by referencing intervals. For example, someone might say, "play a major third above the root." If you have a trained ear for intervals, you can easily understand and execute such instructions.

Tuning and Pitch Accuracy: Ear training improves your ability to discern pitch differences accurately. This is crucial for tuning your guitar by ear and for maintaining pitch accuracy when playing with others.

Musical Memory: Practicing intervals contributes to the development of your musical memory. You'll be better able to recall and reproduce melodies, solos, or chord progressions after hearing them.

Expressive Playing: Musicians with a well-trained ear can play with more expression. They can intuitively add nuances to their playing, such as bends, slides, and vibrato, based on their ability to hear and understand the musical context.

Remember that ear training is a gradual process, so be patient and persistent in your practice. As you become more adept at identifying intervals, you'll find that your overall musicality and ability to play by ear will improve significantly.


Karl proudly presents the release of his comprehensive book series, "The Ultimate Guitar Series". This series, consisting of seven books, delves into the core elements of guitar playing, including scales, chords, arpeggios, and techniques. Designed to enhance the skills and understanding of guitar players, these books are accessible to individuals with varying levels of music theory knowledge.  

An indispensable resource for music teachers, students, and aspiring players, "The Ultimate Guitar Series" offers a path to elevate one's playing to new heights. These books can be easily obtained through Amazon as both paperbacks and Kindle editions, and also on Lulu as a spiral-bound paperback.

Get your copy today and start your journey towards mastering the guitar.


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