How This Course Works

Ok, we’ve established that there’s a well-documented process for developing the ability to make distinctions between things that seem identical to the layperson.

We want to prime our brain, and we want to do it in an active manner.

Then we want to use constant testing combined with immediate feedback.

And because we don’t have the pressure, culture, or price tag of music school to goad us into action, we need a sense of progress to supply a sustainable source of motivation.

Effortless Ear Training: Macro View

On a macro level, each unit of Effortless Ear Training works like this:

  1. We’ll prime our brain with Guided Singing lessons. You’ll hear an audio track and sing along. Don’t worry, it’s easy. And singing them instead of merely listening to them is active (and not passive).
  2. Then you’ll test your ability to replicate what you sang with the Sing audio flashcard decks.
  3. You’ll repeat steps 1 & 2 with a similar sounding musical phrase.
  4. Then you’ll test your ability to tell the difference between those two sounds with the Hear audio flashcard decks.
  5. You’ll work through a few other Hear decks that explore the various permutations and implications of those two sounds.
  6. You’ll do another few rounds of Guided Singing to develop the ability to pick those sounds out of larger structures…
  7. …and then work through some Hear & Sing audio flashcard decks to flex the muscles you developed in Step 6.
  8. Lastly, you’ll do a few Hear decks to work up the ability to hear chord progressions built on the sounds you just internalized.

We’ll repeat this process several times for different sounds. Taken all together, this could be a huge workload of intimidating & discouraging tasks.

Which is why I’m asking you to…


The magic here is twofold. The first half is that I’ve taken all the deciding off of your plate. I’ve handled the “portion control.” All you need to do is decide to show up for 5 minutes each day. I’ll be in charge of what you’ll do in those five minutes.

Walking down a well-defined path is so much easier than using a machete to hack your way through an overgrown jungle.

The second piece of this magic is compound interest. Taken individually, none of these lessons will cause you to rapidly progress in one giant lurch forward. But they will compound and build upon each other, and you will grow in that classic hockey stick way. Doesn’t look like much at first, but then…

Effortless Ear Training: Micro View

Your day-to-day in the course will look like this:

  • An Alarm Goes Off
  • You Check What’s Next
  • You Connect Your Headphones
  • You Listen/Sing/Make Guesses
  • You Repeat The Next Day

An Alarm Goes Off

This part is non-negotiable. For these gains to compound into something useful, you’re going to need to show up regularly. Setting a reminder helps you do that.

You Check What’s Next

In some spots you’ll work with basic audio tracks inside the lessons themselves.

For most of the course, you’ll work with audio flashcards.

Some days you’ll do both.

(We’ll get into how to use the audio flashcard app in the next lesson.)

You Connect Your Headphones

This course is going to be a lot easier for you if you can hear it clearly, so I don’t recommend relying on the tiny speakers in your phone or laptop. Can you use them in a pinch? Of course. But don’t be surprised if it seems harder that way.

You Listen/Sing/Make Guesses

There’s not much reading in this course. Your main activities are:

  • Guided Singing—you play an audio track and sing along.
  • Sing—audio flashcards where you hear a prompt on one side, sing your answer, then listen to the answer on the flip side of the card.
  • Hear—you’ll get an audio flashcard that asks if you’re hearing [THIS THING] or [THAT THING]You’ll check your answer against the one on the back side of the card.
  • Hear & Sing—you’ll pick out a musical bit from a larger context and sing it, then check yourself against the answer on the back.

Repeat The Next Day

That’s it. You log your ~five minutes for the day and don’t worry about it until tomorrow.

As you progress, the audio flashcard app will automatically adjust the number of cards you see. Over time, your workload will drop off enough that it won’t even fill five minutes.

When that happens, you do the next lesson or download the next “deck” of flashcards and start working on that.


What you need to do right now

  1. Figure out a time of day when you can reliably spare ~5 minutes, and set a recurring alarm or calendar alert. This might be a different time from one day to the next—weekdays vs weekends, etc.
  2. Take a screen shot of that alarm/alert and email it to [email protected]


I’ll see you in our next lesson, where we download & configure our flashcard app.