I can think of a few, first in formost, there is 2 different type of struggles

transcribing in real time which requires you to hear and identify chords and melody

and improvising, which requires you to be able to know and hear what notes you want to play before you play it.

I think most people either can do this but can't do that or can do that but can't do this

but another problem is that beginners like me cannot even identify scale degrees/function in the context of music, heck I'm having trouble identifying or singing 2 intervals in a row.

here is my thought process from this example: sing a major interval from C then sing a major interval from E

I first play C then sing up a third no problem, then I repeat the note E and sing a major third to G#? what's the problem with that?

I just changed keys, basically, I didn't hear if as a function functioning in the key but rather changed the key in my mind in order to sing that major third.

anyways learning ear training is super hard for me. my end goal is to be able to transcribe songs in real time and compose but I don't know what I'm really suppose to know

then there's out of key notes like modes

modal mixture

secondary dominants



extended chords


  • Sorry, what's "swaying" in the context of this question? By any chance, is it rapidly switching back and forth between 2 keys, or do you mean something else?
    – Dekkadeci
    Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 6:25
  • what i mean by swaying is that the key change to major and minor constantly
    – Sky Star
    Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 15:14

1 Answer 1


You can't take the whole world on in one go!

Take your time about it. Stick to one key at a time, where most, if not all of the intervals will be diatonic. All from the parent scale. Get to know the scale so well you can sing from, say, note 2 to not 7; note 5 to note 1. And recognise them all when they're played. Just two notes at a time. I think it's better initially to think in terms of scale degrees and their intervals rather than just intervals on their own.

Problem potentially with intervals on their own is that an aug 4 sounds just like a dim 5, but further down the line, you'll be able to work out the probability of one being correct.

Once you are absolutely rock-solid with diatonics, modal stuff, parallel keys and modulations will stick out like the proverbial sore thumb. one of the notes (usually) will sound out of key (written with an accidental) - mainly 'cos it is - and that will alert your ear to non-diatonic intervals.

Rather like sight-reading, this can be done backwards. When I teach sight-reading, one trick is to play something and get the student to write it out, note at a time. This is what I mean by backwards. So, write an interval, sing it, play it. Then with a known start note, and maybe even a root chord to anchor your ear, play the other note, write it, sing it. Better still, get someone else to do the playing.

There's a lot more, but this is good for a few months.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.