Ambient Ear Training: Videos That Train Your Ear While You Relax

This series of videos gives you a chance to relax and practice ear training at the same time.  Each of these progressively more challenging videos plays a sequence of chords very, very slowly so that you can get your ear all the way into the texture and identify two things: the highest note and the lowest note at any given time. By doing this passively and letting your nervous system’s relaxation response to engage, you’ll be adding another layer of understanding to your ear training work.

The first video is really just one chord: a G-chord in the key of G major, so the “one chord”, often written as the Roman numeral I.  Though the first video features only a single chord, it does so with all combinations of the notes of that chord in the bass and the soprano, or melody.  

You can experience these videos in different ways, depending on where you are on your ear training journey: 

The first way is to listen completely passively and gently point your attention to the highest and lowest note in the texture. When I sing the solfege of those tones, you make a mental note of what they were as they float by.

Second, you can use your voice as a guide and hum or sing the lowest and highest tones you hear for each chord.  You don’t need to name them or think about anything else. Just hum within your natural vocal range. The very task of hearing something outside your vocal range and producing it within your vocal range is a foundational skill that needs to be in place before doing more advanced ear training.  It’s definitely worth it!

Third, you can sing the highest and lowest tones in solfege… so if the lowest note you hear is “do”, you would sing “do”; and if the highest note you hear is “mi”, you would sing “mi”. Then you’ll hear me sing the answers and you can then sing them back to confirm and correct what you just sang. Doing this simple practice over time cultures your sense of the flavors of the tones in the major scale.

Finally, you can sing the highest and lowest notes in solfege as above, but now you are going to do something even more advanced: you are going to think the name of the chord.  You might be thinking functionally, which means you’ll be thinking something like “V6”, where it is the “five chord” in first inversion.  Or you might be thinking of the name of the chord with its quality, as in “D major with an F# in the bass”. 

As you can see, this last level requires some music theory knowledge and is NOT the point of the video. But it’s there for those who want that kind of practice.  First and foremost is hearing and echoing back, either with or without solfege.