Crucial Ear Training For 5 String Banjo

ear training courses welcome video

Welcome Banjo Pickers!

I´m Mattie O´Boyle, the director of, and I want to welcome you to this Crucial Ear Training for Fiddlers course.

This course provides you with the tools that you need to train your ear so you can learn all your favorite songs and tunes on your own, without sheet music and without abstract music theory.

Additionally, the course is designed as a banjo skill building method to help you build up your fretboard fluidity, and finger picking accuracy.

This course does not teach you specific banjo tunes, but rather helps you acquire all the skills and abilities that you need to go out and learn the tunes yourself; it’s a leap towards musical freedom.

Everyone starts this journey from there own point of departure. Some folks quite naturally have a pretty good ear, while others, like myself, do not. The good news is that you can train your musical ear and go as far as you want with that training.

How do you do that? You´ll need to apply the same qualities to acquire these skills as with any other complex skill set: Persistence, patience, holding yourself to high standards and consolidating each step along the path before advancing to the next one. If you do that, I am sure that you will succeed. I have seen many, many students do so and there is no reason why you can not be one of them.

Remember, if you have any questions or technical problems, please contact me through the Contact Us web form and let me know. I am here to help.

You´ll need access to our web apps to follow this course, so if you have not already done so, please go here to sign up for your free 15 day trial.

Table of Contents

Preliminary videos to familiarize yourself with the ear training apps

How to log in and open an app

How To Log In And Open An App

Melody ear training app overview

Reel Ear Melody App Overview

Number of repetitions

Number of Repetitions online ear training apps

Musical gym


How should I use the visual feedback?

One very successful strategy is to leave the repetitions at 2 and do the dictation in the following way:

• Listen to the new phrase, sing or play it back.

• Now, listen again and watch the visual feedback at the same time. This way you can correct yourself if need be.

• Finally, sing or play back the phrase again.

In other words, don’t look, then look, then don’t look. This takes a few minutes of practice. Once you can do your dictations perfectly, then stop looking all together and let your ear be your guide.

Step 1: How to set up the Melody App for 5 string banjo

Set up melody app for 5 string banjo

Step 2: Two note melody dictations - D,G and B

Let’s get going with our first call and response melody dictations. We are going to do two note dictations with the open D string, the Open G string and the B note.

Watch the screencast for the set up. Remember, the Melody Ear Training App is here at

Methodological take aways from the screencast to start incorporating into your Melody Dictation routine:

  1. Sing your dictations using the TaDiTa syllables
  2. If a dictation is getting easy, increase the metronome by 3-4 bmp. When you can do a perfect dictation 10-15 times, increase it again by the same amount
  3. If a dictation is easy, remove the First Pitch To Sound scaffolding and continue with the dictation. This increases the difficulty without adding new elements

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If you have been working through this course diligently and holding yourself to high standards, you should have developed a solid ear training base as well as a high degree of fretboard fluidity and picking accuracy in the notes we have worked on. You should be reacting automatically to musical phrases which contain those notes, and, as you branch out your ear training routines into new territory, you will find that your learning rhythm will continue to accelerate, propelling you towards your music goals.

Stay in touch. I can’t wait to hear your music.

-Mattie O’Boyle,