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Ear Sharpener

By Piano Candy

This app is only available on the App Store for iOS devices.


Tl;dr Ear Sharpener is the best app for learning relative pitch. Visit to try it out for free.

Beginners: Train to have musicians' ears. The first level is easy to pass, even for a non-musician. From there, difficulty increases in baby steps.

Musicians: *Every* musician will find an Ear Sharpener level that is challenging and edifying for them. There's no "unlocking" of levels, so navigate through the levels to find what's right for you, or create your own custom levels.

Ear Sharpener is an intense but simple game that trains you to hear what's happening both melodically and harmonically in music - whether you're listening to something that's playing on the stereo, at the club, or in your head.

How To Play:

You'll hear a cadence in C (a IV-V-I), and then a random note. You indicate what note you think you heard. Once you get it right, you'll be presented with another cadence and random note, repeating until you pass the level.

To pass a level, you need a streak of 20 correct answers, and each answer must be given within one second of hearing the note/chord.

For Beginners: Rather than diving right into all 12 notes, the first few levels are incredibly easy - in the first level, for example, you have to distinguish between just the notes C and G.

If you already have a pretty good ear: Start with the last exercise under "Beginner / Notes I". The note recognition will be easy for you, and you'll have a chance to get used to how the game works.

Eventually, you'll progress in baby steps to all the diatonic notes, and then all twelve tones, and then through a gradually widening note range (whereas at first, the notes are restricted to the Middle-C octave). At that point, you're in a pretty good place, ear-wise, but you can further increase your skills with multiple-simultaneous-note exercises.

There is a similar baby-steps path for triads, where you are identifying the root, starting out with root position C and G chords, and ending with triads in various inversions in various voicings built on all twelve tones.

Ear Sharpener comes with 140 preset levels, but also gives you the ability to design your own custom levels, where you can change the cadence keys, or have the app randomly change the cadence keys, or opt to not hear the cadences at all.

Here are some notable things that this app *does not* work on:

Chord qualities: The app will play you major, minor, augmented, and diminished triads, but it only cares whether you can identify the root.

Intervals: Ear Sharpener doesn't deal with the vocabulary ("major third", "perfect 5th") used in interval training. Interval training helps you to identify the "distance" between two notes (pretty useful), whereas Ear Sharpener will train you to hear notes in the context of some specific tonal center (much more useful).

Playing with friends: There is no replacement for the lessons you will learn by getting together with your friends and improvising music on a regular basis.

For questions or support, write to

What's New in Version 2.1

This is a complete rewrite of Ear Sharpener. The basic premise of identifying notes within a tonal center is the same, but the logic and gamification of this idea has been greatly improved. Visit for more details.


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Customer Reviews

Excellent tool

I just finished the "Notes I" beginner section, and have noodled around in the other levels to see what I'm in for. This is simple but not easy, took me a lot of focus, and is already helping me get my "ear" back. I used to be able to sight-sing (like 15 years ago....) and I'm working on immersing myself in musical language again.

I went back to finish the last section of Notes I after a couple of days away and it took me a lot of tries (yes, embarrassing). It might have helped if I went back a section or two to warm up first, but it was also worth it to keep trying each time I got one wrong.

Worth way more than $2!

Love this app

Can't say enough good things about this program. It's one of those things I didn't know I was looking for. Use it during my commute to and from work and can already tell a huge difference after only a week. I grew up playing music and have always been a little intimidated by pitch and am indebted to this app for helping me overcome that. Props to the creator for making it practical and fun! Highly, highly recommended!

Perfect ear training method

When I was in high school, I used this method of ear training ... but that was 1992 and we didn't have smartphones. So I used a tape recorder, and recorded myself playing cadences (F - G - C), random notes, and then I'd speak the names of the notes, repeating until I filled up the tape - cadence / random note / note name - and then I'd listen to the tape, and try to guess the notes before I heard myself say them. This is an awesome automation of this process! Highly recommend.

Ear Sharpener
View in iTunes
This app is designed for both iPhone and iPad
  • $2.99
  • Category: Education
  • Updated:
  • Version: 2.1
  • Size: 22.3 MB
  • Language: English
  • Seller:

Compatibility: Requires iOS 8.3 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

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