Why You Need Aural Skills To Become A Great Guitarist

By Tom Hess

It’s difficult to become a better guitarist without solid aural skills. But it’s probably not for the same reasons you're thinking of...

A lot of guitarists think that developing aural skills only refers to being able to hear scales or chords. Fact is, it goes much deeper than this. Having ear training skills as a guitarist also means being able to identify mistakes as you play at faster tempos. This is crucial for being able to correct mistakes that only happen when you play fast. This helps you improve your guitar technique. When you have solid aural skills like this, you are able to hear mistakes in unclean playing, spot which notes are unclean and know why they are unclean.

The exercise below trains your ear to help you hear mistakes in your guitar playing at any speed:

Step One - Choose any item you want to practice that contains only a small amount of notes (5-10). You can divide up a phrase if you need to.

Step Two – Determine the tempo at which you begin to make mistakes while playing this practice item. Work with a metronome to pinpoint the precise tempo.

Step Three – Lower the tempo by around 3-10 beats per minute. Play through the item for a full minute continuously. As you are doing this, pay close attention to only ONE note. Listen for any mistakes that you are making while playing that note.

Step Four – Think about what has caused you to make any of the mistakes you made while playing the note from step three. Play the practice item again and fix all the mistakes you made while playing that note before so it sounds perfect.

Step Five – Play the item for another minute while diverting your attention to a different note.

Go through this same process over and over until every note in the phrase is perfect. Once you’ve done this, reset the metronome to the original speed where you noticed mistakes and repeat the exercise. By doing this, your ear gets better and better each time you identify and correct mistakes.

Learn five different mistakes to listen for to clean up unclean guitar playing.


Author's Bio: 

About The Author:
Tom Hess is a successful professional guitar player, composer and guitar teacher to thousands of guitarists worldwide. With his online guitar lessons, he has helped guitarists drastically improve their guitar skills. To become a better guitar player, go to his website about guitar instruction and see guitar playing video lessons, read guitar practice advice, and check out a free guitar soloing lesson.