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#1137929 - 01/05/06 07:12 AM Re: How to play by ear?
Seaside_Lee Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/19/04
Posts: 2167
Loc: Blackpool, UK
Hi Alan

yup, thats the way I do it Alan...but I also have to listen to the sounds I create?....I thought that was what playing by ear was all about?

Listening with my eyes closed to hear whether the notes match my singing of the melody line seemed a pretty good tip to me (didn't have time to try it out last night though)...especially when I'm trying to work out the songs that are still on my can't play list (thats lots and lots BTW)

regards


Lee
_________________________
Twitter: @Seaside_Lee

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Piano & Music Accessories
#1137930 - 01/07/06 06:25 AM Re: How to play by ear?
ShiroKuro Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/04
Posts: 3515
Loc: not in Japan anymore
Lee, I've enjoyed listeing to your piano playing!

I have a question for all the folks here who can play by ear (or are in the process of learning.) Do you find you get into hand-habits, esp with your LH? I think of playing by ear as really having a conversation, or telling a story. I often give presentations, where I don't speak from notes, but I'll cover similar topics. When it's something I've talked about a lot in the past, I tend to say things very similarly, whether I intend to or not. Does that happen when you play? I don't mean when playing the same song, I'm thinking more like playing a song and noticing that your LH is doing something similar to what it does in a different song. If that makes sense? Just wondering.
_________________________
Started piano June 1999. My recordings at Box.Net:
https://app.box.com/s/j4rgyhn72uvluemg1m6u




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#1137931 - 01/07/06 06:31 AM Re: How to play by ear?
Seaside_Lee Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/19/04
Posts: 2167
Loc: Blackpool, UK
Hi Shirokuro

The various rhythm patterns for the left hand chords are learned in a specific way until you get comfy with them and then you just expand on them in your own unique way as and when you get comfy

Eventually you have the mind space to mix and match ...block chords, arpeggios, boom chucks and stride patterns and various grand arps to create a myriad variations.


Lee \:\)
_________________________
Twitter: @Seaside_Lee

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#1137932 - 01/09/06 01:17 PM Re: How to play by ear?
hgiles Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/05
Posts: 736
Loc: Charlottesville Virginia
I worked through a tune I heard on a movie:

MOVIE: Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
TUNE: "These Days" by Chantal Kreviazuk

Here's a link to it:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0009A3ZYY/103-6457427-2821447?v=glance&n=5174

Anyway, I don't often try to figure stuff out on my own, but I amazed myself when I was able to work through it and get myself a nice little rendition of it.

First I tapped out the melody, then the bass, then I just filled notes in between. Kinda neat! I don't think I could do that with a jazz tune though.

And yes, it's a sappy movie and a sappy tune but I like it!
_________________________
Haywood
-------------

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#1137933 - 01/09/06 06:17 PM Re: How to play by ear?
dpvjazz Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/12/05
Posts: 287
Loc: phoenix az
When first starting out I worked with a flute player for a number of years and together we would work out the parts to tunes we wanted to know. He could nail the treble right away and I took the bass part and together we filled in the middle. Some things when you woodshed with others you can make better progress than by yourself. Always start with simple things you like and work on those before moving on. Always record so can listen to what you have played and then have someone that knows or can do this check your progress. One thing for sure playing by ear is fun and rewarding but I have seen really good players that can't read suffer on the bandstand when their ear won't do and they need to read a chart or score to keep up. It can be embarrassing all those people who thought you had so much talent and now you are squirming around wishing you at least could read a simple jazz chart. I still believe the best way is to do both read and play by ear. DPVJAZZ

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#1137934 - 01/09/06 06:33 PM Re: How to play by ear?
Bob Muir Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/01/03
Posts: 2653
Loc: Lakewood, WA, USA
It seems that most people who play well by ear, did not have the oportunity to learn how to read music (usually due to financial circumstances);

and most people who can play from sheet music well *think* they can't play by ear because on the rare occasions when they try, (if they ever do), they make lots of mistakes.

Sad on both accounts. \:\(

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#1137935 - 01/11/06 03:33 PM Re: How to play by ear?
pianocliff Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/05/05
Posts: 398
Loc: Washington, DC Metro
 Quote:
Eventually you have the mind space to mix and match ...block chords, arpeggios, boom chucks and stride patterns and various grand arps to create a myriad variations.
I have read about all of the above and been slowing applying them to simple melodies that I know. I learned about these techniques from a book called "How to Play Piano Despite Years of Lessons" that was originally written in like 1973 or something. I don't really recognize many of the tunes in the book but I have been applying the techniques to my own songs.

Right now I am still have troubling with the 3/4 or 4/4 bass patterns which I think you called "boom-chucks". They are like roots in octaves followed by the chord played an octave higher. So far the two things that I haved used most successfully have been the arpeggic accompanient and "open voicing 10th chords" in the left hand.

People who sight-read already may want to check out the book I mentioned for a good overall introduction to music theory, musical style and the practical matters of arranging your own accompanient to familar tunes.

~pianocliff

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#1137936 - 01/11/06 04:58 PM Re: How to play by ear?
swingal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/05
Posts: 1094
Loc: England
Seaside_Lee

What I was saying is rather about looking at the next note or chord sequence whilst hearing what you are actually playing. It is too late to consider the next part if still 'listening' intently on the played part. The looking factor is critical because you have to react very quickly in some jazz numbers and so the 'hearing' sense is of the moment, whilst the seeing sense is telling the fingers what to play next.

This is a bit like motor racing, where if you have to wait to think /see what the car is doing on a curve you are already off the track. Racing drivers make good pianists it's said.

In sight reading pianists, I suppose the seeing sense is on the score in advance of the finger sense which comes next.

Playing by ear (or memory, as a sight reader with no score) is the same use of senses with just the reading eyes on the dots whereas ear players look at the keyboard or memorise where the notes to play are. The latter know the sound before touching the key/s.

I think the sight readers memorise the score or if not they must memorise the fingers on the keys probably a bit of both. Anyone to explain please?

This concludes with me repeating what I have always thought, that the greater skill is in the sight-reader. But there again it's nice to master the piano keyboard for all except classical, where it would be (I think) imperitive to be correct to the last note.

This recent (Ear subject) is the first time ever in all the 70 years of playing I have ever had to try and explain myself.

Alan

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#1137937 - 01/11/06 05:15 PM Re: How to play by ear?
Seaside_Lee Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/19/04
Posts: 2167
Loc: Blackpool, UK
Thanks swingal

I getcha \:\)

Hey the more you think about what you do...the more you'll be able to teach it (I'd spend a day picking your brains in a heartbeat ;\) )

Pianocliff thats a good book...but, for me it eventually delves too much into theory (gaggers! \:\( )


Lee \:\)
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Twitter: @Seaside_Lee

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#1137938 - 01/12/06 02:30 AM Re: How to play by ear?
swingal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/05
Posts: 1094
Loc: England
Lee,

Nice to get your response.

Teaching something which I cannot understand myself (we need a neurology person to help now!) would be a disaster and teaching aint my 'forte' either.

Lets just keep the practice going and that above all else will prove to be the best way forward.

Let's keep the chatting too, as it's good to air problems on such a useful website as this.

This is my second user name by the way, as confusion suddenly stopped the previous one.

Regards

Alan

P.S.Teaching someone to use a brain facility without knowing how would be interesting!

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#1137939 - 01/12/06 09:21 PM Re: How to play by ear?
sepstein Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/05/05
Posts: 83
Loc: Near Boston
Quite a topic going on here.

I'm classically trained, but also took several years of jazz improvisation courses in high school. As I understand it, in jazz, "playing by ear" often means being able to actualize any tune you can imagine in your head. So, the idea is that anything you can sing, you can play simultaneously on the piano (assume your chops can keep up!).

Despite a ton of theory and classical training, I have always found this difficult. Taking a tune I've heard and picking it out on the keyboard isn't that hard, and figuring out the harmony to add chords isn't that difficult for me either, but being to play what I'm singing as I'm making it up (improvisation) - that's tough.

I can recommend the Jamey Aebersold books and CDs for anyone interested in learning about jazz improvisation and chord progressions. It does take a lot of practice, but once you can play a ii-V-I progression in every key, you're well on your way. The CDs are of a jazz trio, so bass and drums are provided, and you can turn the piano (one of the stereo channels) off.

Anyone know a way to learn how to play what you're thinking of in real time?

Steve
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Mason & Hamlin AA #92126 (2004)

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#1137940 - 01/12/06 10:19 PM Re: How to play by ear?
Bob Muir Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/01/03
Posts: 2653
Loc: Lakewood, WA, USA
"Anyone know a way to learn how to play what you're thinking of in real time?"

Yeah, that's what Lee and I have been talking about. PianoMagic.com \:\)

Also, check out this thread over in the AB forum:
Let\'s talk about playing by ear

Bob

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#1137941 - 01/13/06 08:01 AM Re: How to play by ear?
sepstein Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/05/05
Posts: 83
Loc: Near Boston
There's a difference between playing a tune you already know in your head, and one that you are making up *live*.

For instance, I know the tune to the Star Spangled Banner. Give me a starting note, and I can plunk it out, add harmony, etc. Like playing a fake book but already knowing the melody by ear.

That's different than something like scat singing in jazz, or the ability to scat play, if you will. There's no previous cognition of the tune - it is entirely spontaneous.

Hard to describe in words, but imagine typing a post on the forum. I'm forming the words in my head and then transcribing them by typing on the page. So I have the words first. For me, this is not "playing by ear."

Now imagine the ability to transcribe a conversation as it is occuring, at the speed of thought. We don't always think about what we are going to say, and then say it (although sometimes we should!). We just spontaneously have words coming out of our mouths. "Playing by ear," for me at least, is the ability to "speak" in music, rather than having a precognition of what I'm going to play.

I took a brief look at the PianoMagic course, and it seems to be leading to the former, rather than the latter.

Steve
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin AA #92126 (2004)

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#1137942 - 01/13/06 08:34 AM Re: How to play by ear?
Seaside_Lee Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/19/04
Posts: 2167
Loc: Blackpool, UK
Nope

Steve, it is leading to the latter...that is its whole reason for its being...the ability to speak in music is,is,is,is IS...the whole purpose and point of "pianomagic"!! How did you come to the conclusion that it isn't?

Bob's only just started and hasn't got there yet, I've been at it for 2 years and am so near I can touch it at times (my ability to create on the fly gets better every day) and I didn't even know what or where middle C was 2 years ago!!

However, in order to be able to speak in music? you surely must have to work on songs you can hum whistle or sing first, I cannot think of an easier way to learn to think like music thinks and learn how to create any kind of sound or melody you darn well pleasie! \:\) (and yes I do own quite a lot of "Aebersold play-a-longs" and his "Anyone can improvise" DVD too (but, it aint as easy as Pianomagic IMHO)

The ultimate goal for every member is to as you rightly say..."speak in music"

LIKE MIKE ;\)


regards


Lee \:\)

BTW did you check out the thread at the link Bob gave you?
_________________________
Twitter: @Seaside_Lee

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#1137943 - 01/13/06 01:28 PM Re: How to play by ear?
swingal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/05
Posts: 1094
Loc: England
Steve and Lee,

This is getting complicated in my opinion.

Probably because it is only since I visited this forum and saw the mention of 'Playing by ear' did I realize it is not a straight forward subject to anaylise or describe, mainly because there seems so many descriptions and people's opinions.

I have never seen the subject to deeply discussed as it is here.

The subject is worthy of analysis but as I can never truly describe what I do, then surely many of us cannot either.

Steve, Quote; "For instance, I know the tune to the Star Spangled Banner. Give me a starting note, and I can plunk it out, add harmony, etc. Like playing a fake book but already knowing the melody by ear.

That's different than something like scat singing in jazz, or the ability to scat play, if you will. There's no previous cognition of the tune - it is entirely spontaneous." ;end quote

Surely, what you say on that quote means, first example is a known tune, the latter example is a composition or indeed an on the spot improvisation, as jazz pianists do when they play a number in band and it's their turn for a solo.

If we are just composing off the cuff, again that can be done, either by ear players or taught players, the latter, knowing theory and depending on their abilities.

Lee; To speak in music is not clear to me. A singer can make music with their voice, any music they like, given usual talent to sing.

An by 'ear pianist'can (in my view) play a tune on the piano by having brain subconscious ability to do it. A newly composed tune, or a harmonic variation to an existing tune. The fingers are the tools of the pianist the brain is the catalyst that gives the commands. I think !

Knowing a piano keyboard completely and knowing, as a brain reaction that is already pre-progamed, is perhaps how we play. If I had to stop and think what to do I would be lost.

I bet this makes no sense to most of you. And I cannot help much more.

Willing to try. But it just comes so naturally I do it and have never have been asked how before .

Alan

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#1137944 - 01/13/06 01:43 PM Re: How to play by ear?
Seaside_Lee Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/19/04
Posts: 2167
Loc: Blackpool, UK
Hi Alan

sadly, I know you never will (... because obviously you have no need ;\) ) but, I'd love to yak with you and I'm sure many others would too over at pianomagic.

I'd love to journey with you as you unravel the mysteries of your mind and share it with the massive group of ear playing students there.

Somehow when you start yakking on here I don't want you to stop. \:D

Alas! \:\(

Lee \:\)
_________________________
Twitter: @Seaside_Lee

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#1137945 - 01/13/06 02:02 PM Re: How to play by ear?
Hobie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/11/05
Posts: 475
Loc: Rocky Mountains
Alan
As one who first learned to play by ear, then learned to read music, I can totally relate to what you just said.

For me playing by ear is very hard to describe...and even harder to teach! I have been fortunate to have been in many bands over the years, and taking a solo and improvising on the spot just come naturally to me. I have been playing like this for 33 years, so I have a vague recollection of not being able to play, but like you, my musical ability has become part of me.

I read with interest these posts on ear playing. I am glad others are trying to play this way. I believe that music is a language. I learned to speak this language through imitation at a young age. Ever since then I have been in love with music and the piano. I play becuase it is fun, and the ear part of my playing is most responsible for my continuing dedication to this art form. I am adopted and none of my siblings have any interest/skill in music at all. I often wonder if my biological parents were musicians since I took to it like a fish to water. There may be a genetic component to musical skill...food for thought.
_________________________
"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others." Groucho Marx

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#1137946 - 01/13/06 04:22 PM Re: How to play by ear?
Seaside_Lee Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/19/04
Posts: 2167
Loc: Blackpool, UK
Hi Hobie

It is interesting to know that there are many people throughout the world who play by ear and have no idea how they do it!

Mike was exactly the same as you two guys, if someone came up to him and asked or begged him to teach them he couldn't, it was just something he did, but couldn't explain.

Then he had a dream and dreamt a way to show people how to do it...pianomagic was born and was taken on the road in a workshop type of event.

Now, through the wonder of the internet...people like myself can now learn how to do what you lucky guys can do, with the help of Mikes method and help.

I know its of absolutely no use to you at all (just as it isn't to Alan either, because you both already play by ear)..but, personally I think it would be great to learn from you both as I could journey along with you as you learned how to explain what it is you do, over there.

I think you would enjoy yakking with the many people from all over the world who are learning to play by ear and having a heap of fun in the process.

I appreciate it would be totally unneccessary for either of you but, I think it would be great (for me anyway in a very selfish sort of way of course ;\) )


regards


Lee \:\)
_________________________
Twitter: @Seaside_Lee

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#1137947 - 01/13/06 04:33 PM Re: How to play by ear?
Bob Muir Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/01/03
Posts: 2653
Loc: Lakewood, WA, USA
Hey, you could always pay their admission Lee. \:D

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#1137948 - 01/13/06 04:40 PM Re: How to play by ear?
Seaside_Lee Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/19/04
Posts: 2167
Loc: Blackpool, UK
You know what?

Nah, if the guys want to do it, they will ;\)

Howeva, if my euromillions numbers have come up tonight (73 million)...I just might \:\)

just watch it! Mr Muir


Lee \:\)
_________________________
Twitter: @Seaside_Lee

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#1137949 - 01/13/06 05:11 PM Re: How to play by ear?
Hobie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/11/05
Posts: 475
Loc: Rocky Mountains
Lee
I just surfed over to the pianomagic site in search of their forum, but they want $189.00 for the membership. I would be game for some yakkity-yak on the forum, but I'm not THAT curious!!!

As a side note, I am a busy piano teacher with a full schedule and a large waiting list. I do teach creativity, composition, and do a little "ear training" by asking students to sound out melodies, come up with variations to themes in music, etc.

As for teaching 100% "by ear"....holy cow, that would be really hard. Maybe you could ask Mike if he would open up the forum area to people like me on a trial basis, just to see what's goin' on over there! Judging from your enthusiasm, it is working for you! I appreciate your posts.
_________________________
"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others." Groucho Marx

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#1137950 - 01/13/06 05:47 PM Re: How to play by ear?
Bob Muir Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/01/03
Posts: 2653
Loc: Lakewood, WA, USA
I doubt he would do that Hobie. But I think you would learn a lot over there. Hey, at least it would be a business deduction for you. \:D

"teaching 100% "by ear"....holy cow, that would be really hard"

I truly believe it! Mike makes it look easy, but it took a true epiphany for him to do it himself. Of course all these years of teaching it locally has enabled him to refine it quite a bit. I think he's learned much more by teaching it himself than by merely playing professionally.

Nothing forces one to learn a subject more than teaching it. \:\)

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#1137951 - 01/14/06 01:49 PM Re: How to play by ear?
swingal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/05
Posts: 1094
Loc: England
Lee and others,

As far as talking goes I'm fine on a live one to one basis but on the phone less so. I prefer time to calculate my answers.

I'm pleased you guys get so much pleasure from the teachings of PM and as such glad that this new facility works for you.

Practice and time are the two main ingredients aren't they. And watch out for arthritus as that can be a problem when you get older.

Kind regards and thanks folks.

Alan.

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#1137952 - 01/14/06 02:13 PM Re: How to play by ear?
Bob Muir Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/01/03
Posts: 2653
Loc: Lakewood, WA, USA
"And watch out for arthritus as that can be a problem when you get older."

Thanks for the reminder Alan, just what I needed. :p

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#1137953 - 01/15/06 05:50 PM Re: How to play by ear?
swingal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/05
Posts: 1094
Loc: England
Bob, don't take my words too seriously but it's something that is rather hereditary I believe. Plus living in a damp cold climate. Over working the joints and certain diets. A diet.... for or against arthritus is the meaning.

Anyhow you have got some 30 years to catch me up.

Alan

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#1137954 - 01/18/06 07:08 PM Re: How to play by ear?
Kam Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/13/06
Posts: 184
Loc: Canada
Greenlee is definitely right, you have to spend time alone on the keyborad learning by urself.

But there's one thing u can do, u can play some new age songs to get the idea how ppl harmonize the melody.

gd luck
_________________________
"Bass creates motion" - David Lanz

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#1137955 - 01/20/06 03:01 AM Re: How to play by ear?
swingal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/05
Posts: 1094
Loc: England
I know some member's of these forums play new age music. Are there any short m/peg clips so I can identify with this music please.

Alan

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#1137956 - 01/23/06 08:44 PM Re: How to play by ear?
Kam Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/13/06
Posts: 184
Loc: Canada
New Age music

It is called "The Gift"
http://www.davidnevue.com/mp3/gift.m3u

For the online recital, I will be playing my own variations on tat song
_________________________
"Bass creates motion" - David Lanz

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#1137957 - 01/24/06 07:45 AM Re: How to play by ear?
nickd Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 146
Loc: France
I believe that some people will never[/b] be able to "play by ear" in the sense of improvising.

My good friend Mhairi, a meticulous, first-class IT project manager, actually refuses to believe that improvisation can happen. She simply cannot understand how Keith Jarret, for example, could sit down for an hour and produce the Cologne Concert "out of thin air". In her mind he must have first taken themes, worked out where they go via rules and harmony, and slowly composed the piece, then memorised it and performed it without music.

Even when I'm playing R&B and boogie-woogie, where I'm doing nothing more sophisticated than re-shuffling loads of well-known patterns on the fly, she still doesn't understand how I know to do pattern X not pattern Y. She wants to know why[/b] - which rule I applied - to suddenly change the left hand from chomping to a brief burst of octave walking bass then back to chomping. "Dunno...seemed like a good idea" is the only answer I know how to give, but it doesn't fit her paradign of all action/inaction having to be motivated by a "logical", thought-out reason. She'd probably shut-up and accept it if I made up something BS like "Consecutive 4ths can't follow the diminshed of the root, so I had to play at least 5 bars of octaves to compensate for the augmented 11ths."

I have friends and family who are very controlled, rigorous people who need to forsee every detail of their life and plan everything to the n-th degree. Some of them are list freaks, and can't do ANYTHING without first writing lists.

I think they could memorise pieces and play them. I think they could learn "all" the rules to be able to pick out a melody and apply classical harmony to it. I don't believe they could ever just sit down, play and see what happens as their brains just aren't wired that way.

nick

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#1137958 - 01/24/06 10:10 AM Re: How to play by ear?
Bob Muir Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/01/03
Posts: 2653
Loc: Lakewood, WA, USA
Nick, you're right that they'll never be able to play by ear - - if they don't try. And even if they try, they won't learn if they refuse to apply themselves.

I think that anybody who isn't tone deaf can learn to play by ear if they just start. Once they learn how flexible a song is by playing it different ways by ear, they'll start opening themselves up to the freedom of improvisation.

Even just playing the melody all by itself, one note at a time, they can learn how to jazz it up with repetitions, lead-ins, and other techniques. I think that if they do that, hands-on, they'll see that when they play a note without repetition, it sounds good; and when they play it with repetition, it also sounds good; and that they can decide on the fly whether they repeat the note or not; then just maybe a lightbulb might go on.

Most folks who would like to play by ear, but never start, think that those who do play that way, started out playing whole songs, fully voiced by ear. They don't realize that it all starts very slowly with plunking out the melody, getting that down, and then finding the root or chord that goes with each partial phrase, etc. etc.

Also, folks are so used to having the notes in front of them, that they aren't even listening, really listening to when chords change and how the melodic intervals and chords are related. But if you learn to play by ear first, then it's like learning to speak before learning to read words.

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