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#1617217 - 02/10/11 08:59 PM You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear?
MathTeacher Offline
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Registered: 01/25/11
Posts: 256
Loc: Toronto, Canada
If you had to choose between being able to sight-read almost anything but cannot play anything properly by ear, or being able to play almost anything by ear but can't sight-read anything properly, which would you choose?

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#1617219 - 02/10/11 09:04 PM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: MathTeacher]
cast12 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/14/09
Posts: 219
If having a "gifted ear" entails having absolute pitch, then I'd take that option.

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#1617221 - 02/10/11 09:08 PM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: MathTeacher]
Tritones Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/07/11
Posts: 7
I would rather be a gifted sight reader, mostly because sight reading has been one of my weaknesses since beginning the piano.

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#1617223 - 02/10/11 09:10 PM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: MathTeacher]
currawong Offline
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Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5919
Loc: Down Under
Develop both. There's no real reason why most people can't become equally proficient at both.

But just for the sake of your "what if" premise, I'd take the reading, because that would allow you access to any music that was written down, whereas by ear you would only have access to music you had actually heard. But it's only a hypothetical, because I value both.
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Du holde Kunst...

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#1617226 - 02/10/11 09:15 PM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: MathTeacher]
findingnemo2010 Offline
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Registered: 12/17/09
Posts: 1491
Ear. Who likes reading? not me
_________________________
music to me is kind of like putting together pieces of a puzzle
i call it the paino because its where i put all my pain

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#1617229 - 02/10/11 09:16 PM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: currawong]
MathTeacher Offline
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Registered: 01/25/11
Posts: 256
Loc: Toronto, Canada
Originally Posted By: currawong
Develop both. There's no real reason why most people can't become equally proficient at both.

Not me. I don't think I'll ever be able to play properly by ear, so I'm just stuck with choosing to develop the first of the two skills. I just hope that I won't be missing out much. If someone requests "Hey can you play for me ...", then I'll just have to say "Sorry, can't play be ear. But give me the score, and I will." Oh well.


Edited by MathTeacher (02/10/11 09:19 PM)

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#1617234 - 02/10/11 09:20 PM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: MathTeacher]
beet31425 Offline
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Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 3752
Loc: Bay Area, CA
I wonder if it's possible to be a great sight-reader and not have an ear for sounding things out. Theoretically, perhaps, but I wonder if this ever really happens.

To be a great sight-reader, you have to develop strong links between how things look on the page, how they feel under your fingers, and how they're going to sound. I think all three components are necessary, not just the first two. If so, great sight-readers understand the correlation between how things feel and how they sound, which is a big piece of playing by ear....

-Jason
_________________________
Beethoven: op.109, 110, 111

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#1617235 - 02/10/11 09:23 PM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: beet31425]
MathTeacher Offline
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Registered: 01/25/11
Posts: 256
Loc: Toronto, Canada
Originally Posted By: beet31425
I wonder if it's possible to be a great sight-reader and not have an ear for sounding things out. Theoretically, perhaps, but I wonder if this ever really happens.

Well the extreme case is computers. They can play anything at any tempo if you give them the score. But currently they cannot covert any MP3 music to midi file adequately. They cannot even sense where the beats are.

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#1617237 - 02/10/11 09:25 PM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: MathTeacher]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5919
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: MathTeacher
Originally Posted By: currawong
Develop both. There's no real reason why most people can't become equally proficient at both.

Not me. I don't think I'll ever be able to play properly by ear, so I'm just stuck with choosing to develop the first of the two skills. I just hope that I won't be missing out much. If someone requests "Hey can you play for me ...", then I'll just have to say "Sorry, can't play be ear. But give me the score, and I will." Oh well.
You may have to work at it - I didn't mean it would just happen automatically. smile
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Du holde Kunst...

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#1617241 - 02/10/11 09:29 PM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: MathTeacher]
drexel Offline
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Registered: 04/22/10
Posts: 129
Loc: Earth
Originally Posted By: MathTeacher

Well the extreme case is computers. They can play anything at any tempo if you give them the score. But currently they cannot covert any MP3 music to midi file adequately. They cannot even sense where the beats are.


But computers can convert an MP3 to sound waves... not to mention that if you were to shove a hand written score into your computer's cd drive you wouldn't get very far!

Regarding the topic of the thread, I would have to say ear. With a good enough ear, I could simultaneously play several recorded pieces through headphones at any speed and hear every possible combination of musical possibility while remembering the pieces after the first listen a la one of my musical superheroes, Derek Paravicini, but better of course.

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#1617243 - 02/10/11 09:34 PM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: MathTeacher]
Orange Soda King Offline
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Registered: 11/25/09
Posts: 6070
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
Well, I would like to think I have a gifted ear and need to work on my sightreading more. I don't know which skill is easier to develop, but I think it's possible that in the future both will be at a high level.

I don't have absolute pitch, but I have VERY good relative pitch, and I have very good interval recognition and a very harmonically driven mind, so I believe that is actually more helpful than relying SOLELY on absolute pitch. Many people with absolute pitch may also have good interval recognition, but I actually know a couple people who don't, so I'm curious if all of these various aspects are separate things you have to work on, or if they're connected with each other somehow, and how closely they are connected.

So my answer: gifted ear. Sight reading can always improve, but I don't know if ear training improves as fast as sight reading. (Maybe it does?)

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#1617267 - 02/10/11 10:04 PM 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
If I had nothing at all and was just about to embark on learning music, I would go for gifted ear. As an adult i imagine that developing a good ear (as an adult) is more difficult. Then I'd practise my reading for a few years and become brilliant at that too laugh Especially because (as Jason suggests) my good ear will help me to achieve a higher level of sight reading.

And that's basically what happened grin

1. You have to do a LOT of varied reading
2. You have to do it in a way that it's enjoyable (or you'll have trouble with number 1.)
_________________________

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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#1617271 - 02/10/11 10:16 PM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: MathTeacher]
eweiss Offline
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Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
Ear of course. No contest. smile
_________________________
Play New Age Piano
http://www.quiescencemusic.com

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#1617379 - 02/11/11 02:17 AM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: MathTeacher]
BruceD Online   content
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I don't understand the premise; why should it have to be one or the other?
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#1617380 - 02/11/11 02:19 AM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: MathTeacher]
jonnyboy126 Offline
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Registered: 11/11/07
Posts: 59
People with great ears are usually also great sight-readers; it goes with being able to "hear" where your fingers should go.

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#1617382 - 02/11/11 02:23 AM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: BruceD]
drexel Offline
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Registered: 04/22/10
Posts: 129
Loc: Earth
Originally Posted By: BruceD
I don't understand the premise; why should it have to be one or the other?


Because that's the premise...

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#1617391 - 02/11/11 03:00 AM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: jonnyboy126]
beet31425 Offline
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Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 3752
Loc: Bay Area, CA
Originally Posted By: jonnyboy126
People with great ears are usually also great sight-readers; it goes with being able to "hear" where your fingers should go.


I think I disagree. (If by "people with great ears" you mean people who can play well by ear.) I think the converse is true: great sight-readers are mostly pretty good by ear too, as I tried to argue above. But you could play really well by ear without even knowing how to read music.

-J
_________________________
Beethoven: op.109, 110, 111

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#1617397 - 02/11/11 03:30 AM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: MathTeacher]
wr Offline
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Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7784
Since I am primarily interested in playing notated music, the choice for me would have to be sight-reading. Just earlier this evening I was reading through some stuff, some of it for the first time (Tishchenko's Shostakovitch-on-LSD 4th sonata). It was a lot of fun, and I am very grateful that I can do it.

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#1617445 - 02/11/11 06:34 AM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: MathTeacher]
Kuanpiano Offline
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Registered: 05/06/10
Posts: 2137
Loc: Canada
Prefer ear, since the thing that will make you a better musician is your ability to listen to yourself.

Though I agree, why all these threads where we have to choose one or the other? I mean, it's not like we're forced to choose between our eyes and ears with the threat of death or something otherwise, right?
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Working on:
Beethoven - Piano Sonata op. 109
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Rachmaninoff - Piano Sonata no.1

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#1617462 - 02/11/11 07:12 AM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: MathTeacher]
RedKat Offline
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Registered: 09/14/10
Posts: 169
Loc: Belgium
Very strange question... How can one play music without a gifted ear? shocked
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#1617489 - 02/11/11 07:53 AM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: MathTeacher]
Damon Offline
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Registered: 09/22/06
Posts: 6103
Loc: St. Louis area
Gifts appear very early in life and magical aliens have yet to be discovered. I just hope perseverance pays off.
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It's been scientifically proven that Horowitz sucks.

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#1618505 - 02/12/11 06:35 PM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: MathTeacher]
pianist.ame Offline
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Registered: 05/18/07
Posts: 1166
Loc: Singapore
Ear smile ever since I have learnt how to make full use of this ability of mine it's made a huge difference to the speed which I learn at+ when I know exactly what tone I want I can just sit down and produce it.

However it has taken years for me to discover this on my own. even my teachers couldn't really help me in this expect
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Currently working on:J.S Bach Prelude&Fugue in C major from bk 1,Chopin Etude op.10 no.12,Impromptus nos.1&4 and Mendelssohn Song without words op.67

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#1618562 - 02/12/11 08:23 PM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: MathTeacher]
Dustin Sanders Offline
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Registered: 12/11/10
Posts: 479
Loc: US
Is a gifted ear just one that can recognize intervals and chord progressions , or one that is able to determine tone color and impeccable phrasing?

I feel like my ear is superb when it comes to tone coloring , voicing chords and creating distinctive textures within orchestral type pieces , but if you played a simple progression I wouldn't be able to play it back.

My sight reading is very good too , and it's extremely fun to be able to open up any piece of music and begin playing it relatively well unless it is something like Feux Follets or some of the more advanced romantic , russian music.

I don't think one could choose - A great pianist has both. If you can't read well you will learn slower and those guys (and ladies) absorb music like a sponge absorbs water.
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#1618630 - 02/12/11 11:11 PM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: MathTeacher]
Little_Blue_Engine Offline
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Registered: 03/30/09
Posts: 1233
Loc: Ohio, US
I don't have either at this point, given the choice I'd take ear.
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I'll figure it out eventually.
Until then you may want to keep a safe distance.


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#1618672 - 02/13/11 01:36 AM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: RedKat]
RonaldSteinway Offline
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Registered: 03/11/08
Posts: 1482
Originally Posted By: RedKat
Very strange question... How can one play music without a gifted ear? shocked


The same like a cook, if he or she does not have a talent to taste (figure out) the ingredients of a dish, s/he will have hard time to copy something new, and most likely will need recipe book all the time, because it is hard to remember all kinds of ingredients for so many dishes. However,people who have tongue that can figure out the ingredient do not need to memorize every single ingredients needed to cook a certain dish. As long as s/he remember the taste, s/he will be able to easily figure out the ingredients that is needed.

The ones who cannot figure out the ingredients, however, can still cook very well, as long as they follow the recipe perfectly and diligently. Exactly the same like playing piano. One does not need to have good hearing to be able to play well. Good hearing here means the ability to recognize notes. I know many people cannot recognize ANY note, but have the talent to play well...(good techniques, good feeling, etc).

I think it is very tiring for OP to learn all those difficult pieces with poor hearing ability.

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#1618675 - 02/13/11 01:52 AM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: MathTeacher]
jeffreyjones Offline
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I'm fortunate enough to pretty much have it all, as far as raw gifts. My sight-reading ability is the basis for about $20,000 worth of work a year for me, and as a choral accompanist I often read seven staves at once. I have perfect pitch and tested out of 4th-year aural skills class in college. I can memorize a short piece in a half-hour and it'll stick. I don't play by ear much, but the first time I heard "Clocks," I sat down and played the whole piece after one listening in front of my dad who introduced it to me.

But, I'd give it all away if I could just have enough discipline to practice regularly. That's the most important thing, and it really holds me back.


Edited by jeffreyjones (02/13/11 02:00 AM)

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#1618680 - 02/13/11 02:09 AM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: MathTeacher]
Percival Offline
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Registered: 01/15/11
Posts: 66
Loc: United Kingdom
My teacher said I was the best sight-reader he's ever had but I cannot pick out even simple tunes by ear. Why, God? frown

@jeffreyjones: That really puts my talent in perspective! smile


Edited by Percival (02/13/11 02:10 AM)
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He taught; but first he folwed it himselve.

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#1619124 - 02/13/11 04:00 PM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: MathTeacher]
ChopinAddict Offline
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Registered: 08/29/09
Posts: 6098
Loc: Land of the never-ending music
I am actually a good sight-reader. I can also play by ear, but mainly melodies (one voice), so rather pieces for the flute for example. I think it must be very difficult (if possible at all) to play for example Bach by ear (because of the polyphony).
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Music is my best friend.


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#1619157 - 02/13/11 04:37 PM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: jeffreyjones]
RonaldSteinway Offline
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Registered: 03/11/08
Posts: 1482
Originally Posted By: jeffreyjones
I'm fortunate enough to pretty much have it all, as far as raw gifts. My sight-reading ability is the basis for about $20,000 worth of work a year for me, and as a choral accompanist I often read seven staves at once. I have perfect pitch and tested out of 4th-year aural skills class in college. I can memorize a short piece in a half-hour and it'll stick. I don't play by ear much, but the first time I heard "Clocks," I sat down and played the whole piece after one listening in front of my dad who introduced it to me.

But, I'd give it all away if I could just have enough discipline to practice regularly. That's the most important thing, and it really holds me back.


Laziness can be changed....not having good hearing is not something one can just acquire.

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#1619425 - 02/13/11 11:26 PM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: RonaldSteinway]
BruceD Online   content
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Registered: 05/26/01
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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 ...
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BruceD
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Estonia 190

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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
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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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Du holde Kunst...

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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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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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'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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#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
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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: 5919
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.
_________________________
Du holde Kunst...

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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.
Alex Ross.

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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: 1482
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
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/11/08
Posts: 1482
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
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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
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5919
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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Du holde Kunst...

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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
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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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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
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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
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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
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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.
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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
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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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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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#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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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
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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
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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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#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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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
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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
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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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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
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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 Offline
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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
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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
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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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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
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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
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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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#1620908 - 02/15/11 05:55 PM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: RonaldSteinway]
currawong Offline
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Originally Posted By: RonaldSteinway
+1, relative pitch hearing ability is very limited, it helps only up to certain level (amateur level).
That is just nonsense. People with a highly developed relative pitch can perform just as well on interval and aural harmony tests as those with absolute pitch, as long as they are given a reference note (which doesn't have to be the starting note, incidentally).

Apparently I'm not going to convince you. But I can tell you that I'd rather have my ability to transpose when sight-singing, to play something by ear in any key having only heard it in one, and other similar skills that a good relative pitch gives you, than absolute pitch. So don't waste any sympathy for me and my "amateur" level aural ability.
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#1620953 - 02/15/11 07:44 PM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: currawong]
RonaldSteinway Offline
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Originally Posted By: currawong
Originally Posted By: RonaldSteinway
+1, relative pitch hearing ability is very limited, it helps only up to certain level (amateur level).
That is just nonsense. People with a highly developed relative pitch can perform just as well on interval and aural harmony tests as those with absolute pitch, as long as they are given a reference note (which doesn't have to be the starting note, incidentally).

Apparently I'm not going to convince you. But I can tell you that I'd rather have my ability to transpose when sight-singing, to play something by ear in any key having only heard it in one, and other similar skills that a good relative pitch gives you, than absolute pitch. So don't waste any sympathy for me and my "amateur" level aural ability.


I agree you should be happy with what you have, since AP is a gift, either you have it or don't. Live with what you have, and be happy.

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#1620954 - 02/15/11 07:51 PM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: MathTeacher]
eweiss Offline
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Having absolute pitch is pretty much a useless skill in today's world where all you have to do is sit down at the piano where all notes are available to you.

Now relative pitch ... that's the skill to have because it's how the ear is developed. Tonic, subdominant, and dominant chords are the foundation of western harmony and result in much of the music here.

What I tell students who want to learn by ear is simply learn the 1 - 1V - and V7 chords, first in the Key of C Major, then around the circle of fifths. This really is the foundation for playing by ear. Being able to identify notes someone plays from a piano without seeing them is a pretty defunct skill now. smile
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#1620972 - 02/15/11 08:32 PM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: MathTeacher]
Kuanpiano Offline
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I think a lot of you guys are forgetting what a gifted ear can do that has nothing to do with pitch.. developing good listening is essential to being a good musician. You have to learn to hear articulation, tone colours, phrasing, different shades, balance in chord, everything. You can be trained in that kind of hearing, and honestly, what's more important, hearing notes, or hearing music?
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#1620988 - 02/15/11 09:01 PM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: eweiss]
Orange Soda King Offline
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Originally Posted By: eweiss
Having absolute pitch is pretty much a useless skill in today's world where all you have to do is sit down at the piano where all notes are available to you.

Now relative pitch ... that's the skill to have because it's how the ear is developed. Tonic, subdominant, and dominant chords are the foundation of western harmony and result in much of the music here.

What I tell students who want to learn by ear is simply learn the 1 - 1V - and V7 chords, first in the Key of C Major, then around the circle of fifths. This really is the foundation for playing by ear. Being able to identify notes someone plays from a piano without seeing them is a pretty defunct skill now. smile


Well, I would guess that if one has absolute pitch, they still have all the benefits of one who has relative pitch.

And I don't think it's much more of a burden to carry around a tuning fork to quickly find your pitch using relative pitch as opposed to just pulling it out of your own mind. But whatever works, works! smile

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#1621023 - 02/15/11 10:13 PM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: currawong]
liszt85 Offline
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Originally Posted By: currawong
Originally Posted By: RonaldSteinway
+1, relative pitch hearing ability is very limited, it helps only up to certain level (amateur level).
That is just nonsense. People with a highly developed relative pitch can perform just as well on interval and aural harmony tests as those with absolute pitch, as long as they are given a reference note (which doesn't have to be the starting note, incidentally).

Apparently I'm not going to convince you. But I can tell you that I'd rather have my ability to transpose when sight-singing, to play something by ear in any key having only heard it in one, and other similar skills that a good relative pitch gives you, than absolute pitch. So don't waste any sympathy for me and my "amateur" level aural ability.


+1. What you say here is also backed by research. Don't worry about random people on the internet calling other people "amateur". You would be surprised if you saw what these people mean by saying they're more advanced than you (I even get videos via PM from these people, some of which make me laugh).

One particular poster earlier did the rounds claiming some weird stuff about upright pianos (vs grand piano actions) and admonished anybody who had a different view by saying "You don't play Islamey, so you don't know what you're talking about". laugh He then sent me a video of him playing Islamey. I wonder why he didn't post it in the members recording area. He considers himself highly advanced. Curiously enough, the video that he sent me got mysteriously cut off as soon as he had begun to play some challenging octave passages (which he was obviously having a lot of difficulty with) and he claimed that it was something that happened during the youtube upload and wasn't intentional laugh. So long story short, don't take them seriously.
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#1621144 - 02/16/11 03:41 AM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: Kuanpiano]
wr Offline
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Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
I think a lot of you guys are forgetting what a gifted ear can do that has nothing to do with pitch.. developing good listening is essential to being a good musician. You have to learn to hear articulation, tone colours, phrasing, different shades, balance in chord, everything. You can be trained in that kind of hearing, and honestly, what's more important, hearing notes, or hearing music?


But that sort of listening isn't what the OP asked - it's about "playing by ear", and you don't have to have an sensitive ear of the sort you describe to play by ear.

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#1621145 - 02/16/11 03:45 AM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: RonaldSteinway]
drexel Offline
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Originally Posted By: RonaldSteinway

I agree you should be happy with what you have, since AP is a gift, either you have it or don't. Live with what you have, and be happy.


Wrong. This is a myth, albeit a very popular one.

re: Live with what you have, and be happy... I guess we should all stop practicing piano immediately then?

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#1621216 - 02/16/11 08:12 AM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: RonaldSteinway]
Soozen Offline
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So far I haven't had anyone ask me to transpose on the fly at church, but I agree, transposition requires a good ear.

I have a good ear with regard to relative pitch and have no trouble figuring out a tune with out hqving to fumble around at the piano. But I feel I have a poor ear for harmony, where you have multiple notes played at once. It would take fumbling at the piano for me to figure out the correct chord for anything more complex than a I-IV-V progression.

I got myself an ear training app and got frustrated with identifying chords. If I take five seconds to sing the individual notes to myself, I can identify the chord, but shouldn't I be able to tell with out singing, "that's minor" or "that's diminished"? Maybe an app that plays the chords out of context of music is a waste of time. I find that while I'm very good at picking out tunes, I'm not particularly great at recognizing intervals just from hearing two notes.

Eta: sorry, was replying to Steinway's post on previous page. I'm using an iPad and have trouble using quotes.


Edited by Soozen (02/16/11 08:19 AM)

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#1621254 - 02/16/11 09:49 AM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: MathTeacher]
mikf Offline
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Soozen
I think that trying to pick out chords based on notes or intervals is really the wrong approach. Picking out the harmony by 'ear' while playing is 80% about knowing the common chord patterns that always exist in popular music and 20% about hearing in your head when the change is a bit unusual and adjusting, or hearing that what you did is wrong and correcting on the fly. In other words most of the time you know what has to come next instinctively because you have done it/ heard it many times. Playing by ear is a bit of a misnomer, you are really playing by brain, using all those learned patterns and your ear is the check point. The person who can never learn to 'play by ear' is the person who plays a wrong chord and doesnt hear it screaming out to them that it is wrong. If you can hear that it is wrong, you probably have the capability to learn how to play by ear.

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#1621628 - 02/16/11 07:01 PM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: currawong]
Canonie Offline
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Originally Posted By: currawong
Originally Posted By: RonaldSteinway
+1, relative pitch hearing ability is very limited, it helps only up to certain level (amateur level).
That is just nonsense. People with a highly developed relative pitch can perform just as well on interval and aural harmony tests as those with absolute pitch, as long as they are given a reference note (which doesn't have to be the starting note, incidentally).

Apparently I'm not going to convince you. But I can tell you that I'd rather have my ability to transpose when sight-singing, to play something by ear in any key having only heard it in one, and other similar skills that a good relative pitch gives you, than absolute pitch. So don't waste any sympathy for me and my "amateur" level aural ability.

It's often a misunderstanding of the technical difference, and an inability to spot it. At last night's rehearsal I was accused of having AP. After some confusion in the group over a transposition, another musician said something like "you can absolutely trust 'canonie's' answer, she has Perfect Pitch!" as if that sealed the matter. This musician is a gigging musician, plays a number of instruments, but admires my aural skills which are so far beyond anything he can even imagine doing that the word Perfect is the only way he can describe it. I'm sure RonaldSteinway would label me or Currawong as having absolute pitch if he saw us in action, I'm can almost hear him insisting.

To spot the person with AP in a group: it's the one who everyone will rely on to check a pitch out of silence. If you enter a building and find an unkempt piano, the group can ask the AP person exactly how out of tune it is, the non-AP persons will soon get used to the 40c flat sound and have no problems (except problems of their instruments disliking being tuned down, which can be large actually). The AP person will offer to take orders for lunch and go waaaaayy across town to best takeaway because it is a very difficult sound environment to work in for them.

That's how you spot an APer laugh


Edited by Canonie (02/16/11 07:03 PM)
Edit Reason: I don't have AP, in case that wasn't clear!
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#1621817 - 02/17/11 01:02 AM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: Canonie]
drexel Offline
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Originally Posted By: Canonie

That's how you spot an APer laugh


That may be so, but it seems an even better way of spotting a prima donna. Surely the vast majority of people with some semblance of absolute pitch would not react in this way.

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#1621826 - 02/17/11 01:28 AM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: drexel]
RonaldSteinway Offline
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Originally Posted By: drexel
Originally Posted By: Canonie

That's how you spot an APer laugh


That may be so, but it seems an even better way of spotting a prima donna. Surely the vast majority of people with some semblance of absolute pitch would not react in this way.


Well said Drexel......!!!! grin

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#1621831 - 02/17/11 01:43 AM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: drexel]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5919
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: drexel
Originally Posted By: Canonie
That's how you spot an APer laugh
That may be so, but it seems an even better way of spotting a prima donna. Surely the vast majority of people with some semblance of absolute pitch would not react in this way.
Perhaps not, but you must grant that it would be a somewhat difficult situation for them?
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#1621842 - 02/17/11 02:46 AM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: MathTeacher]
Ted Offline
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Registered: 04/03/02
Posts: 1503
Loc: Auckland, New Zealand
Being a dud sight reader and having a putrid ear I can say that either ability would be nice. Fortunately for me the creative musical faculties, composition and improvisation, seem to originate in different parts of the brain. They must, or else I wouldn't have been able to do them in such abundance for forty-five years.

My answer to the mutually exclusive choice comes close to a toss-up. I think I'll take the ear although I'm hard put to say why.
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#1621854 - 02/17/11 03:43 AM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: mikf]
Soozen Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/25/10
Posts: 68
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: mikf
Soozen
I think that trying to pick out chords based on notes or intervals is really the wrong approach. Picking out the harmony by 'ear' while playing is 80% about knowing the common chord patterns that always exist in popular music and 20% about hearing in your head when the change is a bit unusual and adjusting, or hearing that what you did is wrong and correcting on the fly. In other words most of the time you know what has to come next instinctively because you have done it/ heard it many times. Playing by ear is a bit of a misnomer, you are really playing by brain, using all those learned patterns and your ear is the check point. The person who can never learn to 'play by ear' is the person who plays a wrong chord and doesnt hear it screaming out to them that it is wrong. If you can hear that it is wrong, you probably have the capability to learn how to play by ear.


Thanks, that is encouraging. I've been coming to that conclusion and have been spending time doing a harmonic analysis of pieces rather than frustrating myself with this app, but it's good to hear from someone else.

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#1621902 - 02/17/11 06:32 AM Re: You prefer to be a gifted sight-reader or have a gifted ear? [Re: drexel]
Canonie Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/04/09
Posts: 1941
Loc: Australia
Originally Posted By: drexel
Originally Posted By: Canonie

That's how you spot an APer laugh


That may be so, but it seems an even better way of spotting a prima donna. Surely the vast majority of people with some semblance of absolute pitch would not react in this way.

I think this shows the misunderstanding that is often out there. There is no "some semblance" of AP. It's There or Not There, no shades in between. The graphed results of that survey show this most interestingly; 2 dense clusters of results (and some random noise that is statistically insignificant).

You would possibly be another person who would think that my pitch was absolute. I would never expect my AP friends to rehearse under such conditions, they find it strange in a way that we can hardly comprehend.

A little anecdote I may have told before. My friend (a string player with AP) was rehearsing in a good orchestra. The conductor stopped the rehearsal to point out to her that she was still playing at A440, whereas the orchestra had retuned to A444 (not sure of the exact numbers but that's the general idea). That's the level of absoluteness we are talking about here. She was able to consciously adjust, and was greatly embarrassed, not a prima donna. I hope that helps to clarify AP.
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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.
Alex Ross.

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