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#1084348 - 06/30/04 08:35 PM Playing by ear vs. Playing by note
Kitagrl Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/29/04
Posts: 95
Anyone play by ear enough to give you trouble in your lessons?

I have trouble to where when I get the feel of a song in my lesson, (Alfred series) I do less reading notes and more feeling the song out by ear which means I am not actually getting as much note reading practice as I should be.

I play alot of church hymns and mostly improvise the left hand by ear. I have alot of trouble reading my left hand in my lessons at the same time as reading the right. I have always had somewhat of a mental block towards reading notes anyway and find I am very slow to learn and remember music theory and etc.

I hear that it is good if you have an ear for music but my teacher says it hurts the learning process though. Anyone else have any problems/blessings with this? I think in a way its is good since I HAVE to play for church and if I couldn't play by ear somewhat I'd be having problems...however I think it is hurting my lessons and that I could be farther by now if I could learn to sight read better. (Been taking lessons for about a year and a half and am starting Alfred book 5 in the regular series, and I am REALLY slowing down...)

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#1084349 - 06/30/04 08:59 PM Re: Playing by ear vs. Playing by note
fingers Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/08/04
Posts: 800
Loc: Westchester, NY
Music is an "aural art". I would take good ears over good reading any day. But why not develop both skills?


Playing piano at age 2, it was thought that I was some sort of idiot-savant. As it turns out, I'm just an idiot.

#1084350 - 07/15/04 07:11 PM Re: Playing by ear vs. Playing by note
Cerveau Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/15/04
Posts: 2
Loc: Atlanta
I know what you mean entirely. I started lessons when I was five, and for a whole decade played nearly everything by ear. Notation never stuck with me, and as I moved from city to city I changed teachers and I'd have to start at the begining every time. I'd always embraced it before, my playing everything by ear. But just recently I've gotten so mad at myself for not taking advantage of all of the lessons in my childhood. I literally can't focus on sightreading if I've got any clue how the music does or should sound. I'm not in lessons now, and haven't been in ages, but I hope to start soon, and I KNOW I'm going to have so much trouble. The difference in the difficulty of things I can play and read are so drastic, I play difficult songs by ear incorrectly, and simple songs I'm not interested in learning and probably couldn't read anyhow. I used to love playing by ear so much, I almost want to kill it entirely now.

#1084351 - 07/17/04 11:01 AM Re: Playing by ear vs. Playing by note
Kitagrl Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/29/04
Posts: 95
I totally agree...if someone would listen to me play, they probably would think I have been in lessons longer than I have been. But if someone introduced even a moderately easy piece that I have never heard, they'd be appalled at how it sounded for me to try to sight read it. :-(

#1084352 - 07/17/04 01:33 PM Re: Playing by ear vs. Playing by note
teachum Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/19/04
Posts: 2918
Loc: idaho
Count your blessings! I have good ears, but not the confidence. I have been trying to free myself up to do more improvisation/ear playing. I have a DVD series called Piano for Life-Mark Almond that really encourages/teaches that. He does not ignore theory, but teaches you to "sound" the piano. Pretty fun stuff for an inhibited/by-the-note person like myself.
You will be 10 years older, ten years from now, no matter what you do - so go for it!

Estonia #6141 in Satin Mahogany

#1084353 - 07/17/04 01:46 PM Re: Playing by ear vs. Playing by note
plays88skeys Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/08/04
Posts: 3091
Loc: Richmond, VA
Yes. When I was a kid my piano teacher held music appreciation classes and played pieces for us. A lot of them really caught my attention, and I desperately wanted to play the music (the Promenade to 'Pictures', Claire de Lune, etc.) So I'd go home, sit at the piano and pick out the music that was in my head. By the time I got back to the next lesson I had a version of the "tune du jour" that I would play for her. The interesting thing about that is that my ear versions were always in the composer's signature key.

I still do this sometimes if something is in my head and won't stop...picking it out by ear usually satisfies the need to hear it played outside my head and it then goes away.
There are no shortcuts to any place worth going. - Beverly Sills

#1084354 - 07/17/04 02:00 PM Re: Playing by ear vs. Playing by note
teachum Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/19/04
Posts: 2918
Loc: idaho
Interesting - getting it out of your head and onto the keys. I have always been one to get things (music, obsessions, whatever) stuck in my head. I just learned the 3rd movement of my little Sontatina and immediately everything I do and everywhere I go it is going round and round. I hum when I play too. I think it really helps to have the tune in your head.
You will be 10 years older, ten years from now, no matter what you do - so go for it!

Estonia #6141 in Satin Mahogany


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