5 Fun Games to Improve Your Students’ Ear Training Skills

Adding a minute or two of ear training games to your students’ lessons can improve their aural skills dramatically. Here are 5 fun games to play with them:

1. Sing the resolution. Play a melody that ends with a perfect cadence and stop playing on the V chord. Then ask your student to sing the tonic resolution. If this is too easy, do the same exercise with a short chorale and stop on the penultimate dominate chord. For an even more advanced version, simply play any V7 chord on the piano and have your student sing the tonic of the I chord that it resolves to.

2. Sing the missing note. Play any ascending or descending scale and skip over one of the notes to then have your student sing back the missing pitch. This game is great because the student has to both listen for the missing note and to also keep it in their memory as the rest of the scale continues on. 

3. Sing a different quality scale. Play any one octave ascending major or minor scale and have the student sing back a different quality descending scale in the same key. For example, you play an ascending G major scale and your student sings back a descending G harmonic minor scale. For a more advanced version, have the student sing back the scale using moveable “do” solfège or tell them the tonic of the scale and have them sing back using fixed “do” solfège or note names.

4. Sing the other hand. Take any of your student’s pieces and have them sing the right hand as you play the left hand on the piano. If they can do this easily, challenge them by having them do both parts themselves (sing one hand and play the other).

5. Clap back. The clap back game where the teacher claps a measure or two of rhythm and the student repeats it is well known and a great learning tool. To add a challenge, instruct the student to not clap back the identical rhythm, but instead add a quarter rest of your choosing on a given beat.

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