Music Students

Rock Ear Training is a website devoted to teaching music students interested in Rock the skills they will need to reach their full  potential.  The exercises here will instill higher ear training skills, and can be divided in two different types of exercises.   I call the kind of ear training taught through this website “Contextual Ear Training®.”  The exercises and recommendations have been developed over the last 40 years of teaching students of all musicianship levels and are thoroughly discussed here, so that there is little room for misinterpretation.

The Best Learning Environment for a Music Student

My experience in teaching music students ear training is that each of them is unique, and at some point in the process needs personal guidance. For instance, when and how you hear a chord or melody will depend on its context and on your previous training as well as the culture you grew up in.  Developing these contextual ear training® skills will require a combination of rote exercises and applied ear training examples using real music.  A recommended regimen of listening exercises and real applied exercises can vary greatly from student to student.  In order to make this a viable endeavor, I’ve created many different ear training courses. They address a multitude of learning problems but also create an educational history wherein I can effectively analyze the issues that each student has in their journey toward better aural comprehension. By this I mean that if a student is working on a course of mine, where I know the content, we have a common denominator; a kind of checklist that reveals where their problems are, so that I can make further recommendations on how to fix them.

Personal Communication

Since 1995 I’ve offered email correspondence with the music students who purchase any of the books found on the website. Although initially people thought I was crazy to invest that kind of time and effort into answering questions and guiding students in their music education, I saw no other way to effectively guide students to a higher musical ability without knowing their strengths and weaknesses. Over the years, I’ve found this to be very rewarding for both myself and the students.

Lack of Personal Communication

Since 1995 there has been a growing list of website and apps dedicated to teaching music students various aspects of music. While some of these have been very innovative, many rely on the student to enter blindly into a series of exercises that may or may not be addressing their needs or worse, teaching them a method that is unsound. I’ve answered countless emails from students who did “X” exercise only to find out later that the lack of directions or their own misunderstands has them wasting countless hours of sincere practice on something they were doing the wrong way thus developing bad habits or worse, practicing something that left them unable to reach their goals. The lack of communication is a key factor in students misunderstanding the reasoning behind the exercise, and approaching it in a misguided fashion. Never assume you are practicing correctly. Ask someone who knows, and has experience. If that is not part of the situation you find yourself in them maybe it’s time for a change so that you don’t waste precious time doing the wrong thing or misunderstanding a crucial step in the process.

Context is King

Many of the exercises included on this website require a music student to practice similar things but in different ways. This is what I call “context.” This brings into play a criticism I have of many ear training courses; they give you one exercise to do and then tell you that somehow magically you will hear music. This is of course nonsense. Take for example, a similar learning path such as learning a foreign language. You should study reading, writing, aural comprehension and emersion into the culture of the language in order to master it. It is the same with any aspect of learning music. You will find that the courses discussed on this website use many different types of exercises to give you as many “contexts” as possible in order for contextual ear training® to work for you in every situation you encounter in your musical life.

The Holistic Musician

Since the education of music students interested in Rock can have extreme variations a few words should be said about the approach I take to learning music. Times have changed drastically since the 1950’s and 60’s when rock music was in its infancy, and most songs only required three or four chords at the most. Though there were highly educated musicians like some of the members of Led Zeppelin for instance, many musicians learned from one another. Being lucky enough to be Paul McCartney and have your best friend John Lennon, or colleague George Martin to bounce ideas off of is something we all wish we could have. Unfortunately that is not the case for most of us, so we need to develop a set of skills to enable us to communicate with both the uneducated as well as the educated musicians that we will run into in our career.

The Educated Music Student

It seems that now in the 21st century most music students have attended some level of college where they have taken music theory and other courses teaching them the ins and outs of music. This leaves the uneducated musician at a disadvantage. Not that you need to have a black belt in music theory but you should at least know the names of the notes on your instrument and if you hear a note that someone else is playing or something you hear in your head you should be able to find that note on your instrument. In my experience that is the ability that most great musicians have and what they expect from the musicians they play with. The exercises presented here will teach you this and eventually take you well beyond.


Music students of all levels will be engaging this website. Feel free to get in contact with me if you agree with the ideas I’ve set forth and would like some guidance. Try out some of the examples on this website before getting in touch to see how you do and please include this and any other information about your history in studying music and what your goals are.