Playing by Ear with Brad Mavin

Playing by ear is one of the key musical abilities which ear training can unlock, and Brad Mavin is a music teacher who really understands how to teach it in a practical, relatable way. He wrote a great two-parter in our “Learn to play by ear” series a couple of months ago, and today we’ve got the first in a series of video tutorials by Brad on how to play by ear.

This series is going to cover:

  • How he approaches music
  • The specific, practical things he did to develop his ear
  • How to use your voice to help you play your instrument
  • Exercises and games you can use with everyday music to improve your ability to play by ear
  • Working out types of chord and chord progressions by ear
  • The power of the cycle of fifths

… and a whole lot more!

If you’re a complete beginner, don’t worry. Read up on the basics of playing by ear, and be reassured – Brad started in exactly the same position as you:

When I first started playing guitar, my ear was just terrible. I couldn’t work out songs by ear, it took me 40 minutes to work out the first chord of a song – and sometimes I couldn’t even get that.

In this first episode, find out:

  • Why playing with your eyes closed and connecting with your sense of touch is important
  • How to practise finding notes (hint: we’ve got a bonus pack for you!)
  • Singing: why it’s important, and what you should be singing to help you play your instrument by ear.
  • How to develop your aural awareness by listening for particular things in any music you hear.
  • How he practised his I-IV-V chord progressions – while working in a factory!
  • A great pop music practice idea for lazy Sundays.

Being a guitar teacher first and foremost, Brad tends to demonstrate with guitar examples – but trust us: his tips and techniques are golden for any instrument! You can find more info and videos over at his dedicated website.

We’re excited to share this new series with you and hope you’ll enjoy the first installment above. If you’ve got any questions or requests for future episodes just leave a comment below.

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