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#1619432 - 02/13/11 11:38 PM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: BruceD]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5834
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: BruceD
Originally Posted By: RonaldSteinway
[...]....not having good hearing is not something one can just acquire.
Huh? What is something one can not just acquire? You're saying you can't acquire not having good hearing?

How can you "acquire" something and "not have" it? You can't acquire bad hearing?

I'm so confused ...
OK, let's cross out the double negatives. So "not having good hearing is not something one can just acquire".
Therefore, it becomes "having good hearing is something one can just acquire". That makes sense now, doesn't it.
Or not... smile
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#1619438 - 02/13/11 11:44 PM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: MathTeacher]
Pogorelich. Offline
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Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 4491
Loc: in the past
Some people have both.......... The good news is, you can aquire better sight reading skills. Ear, not so much... (although that can be trained to become better, but some people will never learn)
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#1619485 - 02/14/11 01:56 AM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: MathTeacher]
fledgehog Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/09/11
Posts: 273
Loc: West Hartford, CT
i have a pretty good ear (perfect pitch and all that good stuff), but i can't sight read worth crap. i think we will always want whichever one we don't have.

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#1619491 - 02/14/11 02:07 AM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: fledgehog]
currawong Offline
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Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5834
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: fledgehog
i have a pretty good ear (perfect pitch and all that good stuff), but i can't sight read worth crap. i think we will always want whichever one we don't have.
But perhaps not enough to actually work at it? smile

I think what happens is that people (naturally enough) cruise along with what they find easier, and tell themselves they'll never be any good at the other, when in fact I'm convinced that both sight-reading and playing by ear can be improved significantly in almost everyone with practice.
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#1619549 - 02/14/11 05:56 AM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: MathTeacher]
Canonie Offline
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Registered: 10/04/09
Posts: 1941
Loc: Australia
I used to go to festivals and watch musicians play in bands, many different styles, all playing music because they could. "Oh I would love to play with musicians, make music with friends, play anything at all".... but alas, I couldn't, because I didn't play any instrument and it's too late once you're grown up. I mean how could I start an instrument and actually gain proficiency. So tapped a few drums now and then, danced along to the wonderful music.

Somehow I knew that I loved music as much as these people, but my childhood gave me some very clumsy and long forgotten piano skills and an unattractive voice (but in-tune!), nothing that lasted. I was wistful but knew it was something I couldn't change.

Then one day, along came a large and warty Frog...

Actually, what I really meant to say was that currawong is right: Work helps, and hard work for a long time helps a lot.
_________________________

Composers manufacture a product that is universally deemed superfluous—at least until their music enters public consciousness, at which point people begin to say that they could not live without it.
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#1619589 - 02/14/11 08:13 AM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: Pogorelich.]
RonaldSteinway Offline
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Registered: 03/11/08
Posts: 1454
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
Some people have both.......... The good news is, you can aquire better sight reading skills. Ear, not so much... (although that can be trained to become better, but some people will never learn)


I agree 100%, but many people are delusional. They think that hearing can easily be trained as easy as training sight playing. Good sight playing skill is easy to acquired.

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#1619600 - 02/14/11 08:21 AM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: currawong]
RonaldSteinway Offline
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Registered: 03/11/08
Posts: 1454
Originally Posted By: currawong
Originally Posted By: fledgehog
i have a pretty good ear (perfect pitch and all that good stuff), but i can't sight read worth crap. i think we will always want whichever one we don't have.
But perhaps not enough to actually work at it? smile

I think what happens is that people (naturally enough) cruise along with what they find easier, and tell themselves they'll never be any good at the other, when in fact I'm convinced that both sight-reading and playing by ear can be improved significantly in almost everyone with practice.


Sight-reading can be trained up to the max of your brain speed and muscle coordination that one has.

Hearing is the same. Some people just cannot "recall" the sound that they heard. For example if you press A, one can easily imitate the sound, but they just cannot register that sound in their brain, so that in the future if they are given the same frequency, they cannot tell what that frequency is, because that the A frequency does not reside in their brain. We can only recognize something we have in our database (brain).

However relative note hearing is very trainable.

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#1619787 - 02/14/11 01:13 PM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: MathTeacher]
mikf Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/06/11
Posts: 66
Loc: Texas
I believe that everyone can eventually learn to sight read music, although some learn faster than others. But not everyone can play well by ear, so best to have the ear gift if you have to choose. But the downside is that once you can play well by ear there is a tendency to neglect sight reading, and then you lose it. Happened to me for forty years and now I cant play the classics and desperately want to.
The flipside though is that if you want to play popular music like standards, you really have to play by ear to sound good because sheet music is nearly always such a basic version that I would never consider it more than a starting point.
Mike

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#1619916 - 02/14/11 04:40 PM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: RonaldSteinway]
currawong Offline
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Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5834
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: RonaldSteinway
However relative note hearing is very trainable.
And that is all you need to develop your ear and playing by ear. You don't need absolute pitch.
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#1619936 - 02/14/11 05:11 PM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: RonaldSteinway]
eweiss Offline
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Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
Originally Posted By: RonaldSteinway
I agree 100%, but many people are delusional. They think that hearing can easily be trained as easy as training sight playing. Good sight playing skill is easy to acquired.

Depends on what you mean by 'playing by ear.' No need to remember any notes. All that's required is the basic recognition and understanding of simple diatonic harmony.
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#1619939 - 02/14/11 05:17 PM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: MathTeacher]
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
agreed.. it's easy to 'hear' simple music.. piece of cake.
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#1620026 - 02/14/11 06:50 PM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: eweiss]
RonaldSteinway Offline
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Registered: 03/11/08
Posts: 1454
Originally Posted By: eweiss
Originally Posted By: RonaldSteinway
I agree 100%, but many people are delusional. They think that hearing can easily be trained as easy as training sight playing. Good sight playing skill is easy to acquired.

Depends on what you mean by 'playing by ear.' No need to remember any notes. All that's required is the basic recognition and understanding of simple diatonic harmony.


Another misconception about playing by ear, especially in the US. Playing by ear means as soon as you heard the melody, you should be able to tell the notes one by one without thinking. If one needs a piano to find out the notes, it is not playing by ear. It is trying.

Actually, even an easy melody is not easy to recite the name of the notes for people who do not have good hearing.

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#1620151 - 02/14/11 09:39 PM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: RonaldSteinway]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5834
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: RonaldSteinway
Another misconception about playing by ear, especially in the US. Playing by ear means as soon as you heard the melody, you should be able to tell the notes one by one without thinking. If one needs a piano to find out the notes, it is not playing by ear.
I'm afraid the misconception is yours. Why do you think that if you can't name the starting note you can't sit down and play the piece straight off? Sing me a song and I'll play it for you, in whatever key you like. Just because I can't always pick the key I heard it in (ie, as I said, I don't have absolute pitch) does NOT mean that I can't name all the notes relative to a given starting note. If you don't consider that to be playing by ear, or having a good ear, then, as I said, that is your misconception, not mine. I *can*, as you say, "tell the notes one by one". You are describing absolute pitch, which is not the only meaning of "having a good ear" or "playing by ear".
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#1620164 - 02/14/11 09:49 PM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: MathTeacher]
eweiss Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
Well said Currawong.:)
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#1620174 - 02/14/11 09:58 PM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: currawong]
Pogorelich. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 4491
Loc: in the past
Originally Posted By: currawong
Originally Posted By: RonaldSteinway
However relative note hearing is very trainable.
And that is all you need to develop your ear and playing by ear. You don't need absolute pitch.


But it sure helps a great deal.
_________________________

'I want to invest my emotions only in music; it will never disappoint me or hurt me - it is a safe place to be.'

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#1620194 - 02/14/11 10:11 PM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: Pogorelich.]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5834
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
Originally Posted By: currawong
Originally Posted By: RonaldSteinway
However relative note hearing is very trainable.
And that is all you need to develop your ear and playing by ear. You don't need absolute pitch.
But it sure helps a great deal.
I suppose it does - but simply identifying pitches is not the whole deal. I've heard people identify the notes of a chord and still not be aware that it's a diminished seventh or whatever.
I was one of a small group of students in my uni degree who were exempted from the aural course because we could already do it all. Of this group, only one had absolute pitch (it wasn't me). There is much more to having a good ear than absolute pitch identification, especially when a well-developed relative pitch will serve most purposes.
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#1620381 - 02/15/11 04:37 AM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: RonaldSteinway]
stores Offline
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Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6645
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
Originally Posted By: RonaldSteinway

Another misconception about playing by ear, especially in the US.


Especially in the U.S.? Can someone explain that one for me? Let's not mention the fact that Ronald is obviously (as, I believe, has been evidenced in post of his from the past) heavily prejudicial when it comes to the stars and stripes.
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"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

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#1620443 - 02/15/11 08:06 AM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: MathTeacher]
RonaldSteinway Offline
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Registered: 03/11/08
Posts: 1454
In the Yamaha Grade exam, they did not tell you the key (at least the one in the US). They play the melody and you write it down (they play 4 times with 15 sec interval). For lower level exam, they play the melody and you re-play what they play. For the intermediate, melody and accompaniment...So an absolute pitch is needed.

Curra if you had to take that exam and you cannot recognize the first note what will happened? You will fail....as you said, you will not be able to relate the rest of the notes.

Stores, I met so many people in the US who said that they can play by ear. What they really mean is that they heard a melody, and then try to find the melody on the piano by trial and error. If one has the ability to play by ear, one should be able to just listen and reproduce the melody write away, like when you heard the word "THINK", you will be able to spell the word away "T H I N K".

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#1620446 - 02/15/11 08:10 AM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: Pogorelich.]
RonaldSteinway Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/11/08
Posts: 1454
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
Originally Posted By: currawong
Originally Posted By: RonaldSteinway
However relative note hearing is very trainable.
And that is all you need to develop your ear and playing by ear. You don't need absolute pitch.


But it sure helps a great deal.


+1, relative pitch hearing ability is very limited, it helps only up to certain level (amateur level).

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#1620452 - 02/15/11 08:20 AM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: currawong]
Canonie Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/04/09
Posts: 1941
Loc: Australia
But that doesn't explain this. And presumably there were AP people who didn't make this top level (there must have been more than one in the course by probability)

Originally Posted By: currawong

I was one of a small group of students in my uni degree who were exempted from the aural course because we could already do it all. Of this group, only one had absolute pitch (it wasn't me). There is much more to having a good ear than absolute pitch identification, especially when a well-developed relative pitch will serve most purposes.


Regarding marking that test: you'd get nine out of ten for getting the piece right, lose a mark for wrong key I expect.
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Composers manufacture a product that is universally deemed superfluous—at least until their music enters public consciousness, at which point people begin to say that they could not live without it.
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#1620465 - 02/15/11 08:33 AM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: Canonie]
Damon Offline
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Registered: 09/22/06
Posts: 5914
Loc: St. Louis area
Originally Posted By: Canonie

Regarding marking that test: you'd get nine out of ten for getting the piece right, lose a mark for wrong key I expect.


Not necessarily, it's possible to have a sound in your environment that can be an anchor. A school bell that recently rang, a phone, etc. You can usually also hear a note limit for your voice, in you head. For instance, the highest note I can sing is an A above middle C and I can hear it in my head (and it's correct!).
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#1620482 - 02/15/11 09:05 AM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: MathTeacher]
Canonie Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/04/09
Posts: 1941
Loc: Australia
Yeah and I reckon currawong would have been a semitone off at most. And the funny thing for me is that I seem to be able to accurately guess pitch on a piano (just not other sounds) even though i dont have AP. I'm never wrong on my own piano (my students sometimes test me for fun) but maybe I know it off by heart...?

I have to do a test like that in next couple of piano exams, but they give you the starting pitch smile
_________________________

Composers manufacture a product that is universally deemed superfluous—at least until their music enters public consciousness, at which point people begin to say that they could not live without it.
Alex Ross.

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#1620495 - 02/15/11 09:29 AM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: Canonie]
Tim Adrianson Offline
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Registered: 08/07/10
Posts: 974
A definite vote for gifted sight-reader -- certainly in Classical Music; perhaps not so much in non-Classical. One of the fundamental features of "classical" music is that it is "composer-centered"; i.e., someone took the trouble to determine all the "best choices" for a piece in every way -- form, voicing, rhythm, timbre, etc, etc -- and wrote it all down for others to execute according to those dictates. In order to enter that world, I believe reading is an absolutenecessity; and the more gifted sight-reader you are, the quicker you will be able to adapt to that world and add value to it. Although it's obviously desirable to have and cultivate a sensitive ear as well, I don't think it's as fundamental as being able to read.

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#1620507 - 02/15/11 09:42 AM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: Tim Adrianson]
eweiss Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
Originally Posted By: Tim Adrianson
In order to enter that world, I believe reading is an absolute necessity; and the more gifted sight-reader you are, the quicker you will be able to adapt to that world and add value to it.

Or you could just do it the easy way and listen to a recording.
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#1620567 - 02/15/11 11:05 AM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: MathTeacher]
beeboss Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/18/09
Posts: 1171
Loc: uk south
My vote definitely goes with the ear. Sightreading is a great skill to have but it is the quality of your ear that determines how far you can go with music, how good a musician you can be.

Even if you can recognize pitches chords and intervals very well that is just the starting point for having a good ear. Ultimately your level of appreciation of tone, harmony, melody, rhythm, composition, structure, everything, it all depends on the ear.
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#1620654 - 02/15/11 01:01 PM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: MathTeacher]
Soozen Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/25/10
Posts: 68
Loc: USA
I've often wished that I had a better ear, but I find the sight reading is something I use all the time. I rarely find myself in situations where I need to be able to play a piece on the fly by ear. I think on a superficial level, which is the level I am at as an amateur pianist, sight reading ability is much more valuable because people just want you to play some hymns at church or accompany them on the piano. But to be a really great pianist, I think a good ear is more important. But with my son who is learning piano, I am concerned first with him learning to sight read because I have no expectations or ambitions of of him becoming a GREAT pianist and I think sight reading will likely be of most use to him. I do want him to work on his ear, too, but that is of secondary importance to me.

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#1620707 - 02/15/11 01:44 PM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: MathTeacher]
anajess Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/27/09
Posts: 89
I'd love to have a good ear. I wish I could hear a song once or twice and be able to play it, but I just can't remember melodies until I've heard them hundreds of times. I used to really struggle with the aural tests for exams.

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#1620811 - 02/15/11 03:38 PM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: MathTeacher]
jeffreyjones Offline
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Registered: 01/31/10
Posts: 2229
Loc: San Jose, CA
One thing I have to point out - as a very good sight-reader, I find it almost impossible to play the "standards" or any kind of pop music where you're supposed to use the music as a "starting point." I just can't process it that fast, especially if I haven't heard the song before. I get absolutely furious at people who give me a deficient piece of music and then expect me to fix it.

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#1620819 - 02/15/11 03:52 PM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: anajess]
RonaldSteinway Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/11/08
Posts: 1454
Originally Posted By: anajess
I'd love to have a good ear. I wish I could hear a song once or twice and be able to play it, but I just can't remember melodies until I've heard them hundreds of times. I used to really struggle with the aural tests for exams.


Could you play, say, 4 measure of a simple melody? If you can do it right away, it means you have good hearing, you just do not have good memory. But if you cannot even play a simple melody that you just heard, it means you have hearing problem + memory problem.

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#1620821 - 02/15/11 03:55 PM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: Soozen]
RonaldSteinway Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/11/08
Posts: 1454
Originally Posted By: Soozen
I've often wished that I had a better ear, but I find the sight reading is something I use all the time. I rarely find myself in situations where I need to be able to play a piece on the fly by ear. I think on a superficial level, which is the level I am at as an amateur pianist, sight reading ability is much more valuable because people just want you to play some hymns at church or accompany them on the piano. But to be a really great pianist, I think a good ear is more important. But with my son who is learning piano, I am concerned first with him learning to sight read because I have no expectations or ambitions of of him becoming a GREAT pianist and I think sight reading will likely be of most use to him. I do want him to work on his ear, too, but that is of secondary importance to me.


If you often play at church, you should have a lot of situation where people want you to play in different keys. If you have good hearing, you can transpose stuff easily. Having good hearing is a bless, especially AP.

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