Ear training is one of the MOST important tools a musician, composer or arranger can possess. Every musician needs to develop relative pitch through ear training. Ear training typically consists of singing intervals, identifying pitches in chords, and training the ear to hear what any two or more notes sounded together make, and how "far" each chord or note is from the next.
Ear Training usually ends up being dreaded in a classroom setting. The reason Ear Training does not work well in a classroom setting is because, unlike other information, Ear Training can not be "crammed". Ear Training takes just the right amount of time to develop that each individual needs, and everybody is different. You can easily overwhelm yourself, get frustrated, and end up hearing nothing if you try to force it. In the classroom setting, everyone is suppose to get the information at the same time. This simply is not possible with Ear Training.
The best way to approach Ear Training is to work on your own, and get each "lesson" under your belt BEFORE moving on. If your first lessons takes weeks to complete comfortably, or just a couple hours, so be it. Give your Ear Training the time it needs, on a daily basis, to settle into your brain. Once you get going and have some success, Ear Training will become fun.
Recommended Ear Training Material:
These are the two (2) courses I recommend for improving your ear. I got the Relative Pitch Ear Training Course about 20 years ago and to this day, still believe it to be by far the best course available for training your ear. Just simply follow the audio instructions and do the daily exercises for about an hour. Some lessons will go quickly while others may take longer. Just hang in there and before you even realize it, you will begin to hear things you have learned leap out at you when listening to music.
For Relative Pitch Ear Training (the ability to hear how tones relate), I recommend the David Lucas Burge Relative Pitch Ear Training Course. This is the course I used to develop my Relative Pitch, and still believe this is the best course available to help you develop your ear. I have recommended this course to colleagues and students for over 20 years now, and can say with confidence, this ear training course has proven to be one of the best investments I made in my musical career.
Mark A. Clark (Composer/Arranger/Orchestrator)
President, Mark of the Clark, Inc.
For Perfect Pitch Ear Training (the ability to recognize any note and name it by hearing it), I also recommend the David Lucas Burge Perfect Pitch Ear Training Course. This course has come a long way since I got my copy. With the advent of CDs and digital technology, this course has evolved into a self-study program. When I got my copy, back in the dark ages of analog, it was in book form. You needed to work with a partner (who always tired of ear training long before I did). Today, you can work by yourself using CDs (which unlike tape, recreate pitches exactly as recorded on all players).