Five notes to seven: two notes expand our solfa skills to embrace so much music! Grow your skills with these fun exercises, and expand them into real music.
"You hum it, I'll play it" is the classic response of the bar-room pianist to an unknown song; but why is it that some people seem to have an innate ability to instantly play anything they have heard while most of us struggle?
Virtuoso musicians like Mozart or Jaco Pastorius gained fame for being able to recall hours of complex music after a single listen, but for the average musician that's only a pipe dream.
Like 'Perfect Pitch', playing by ear is often talked about as if it's some kind of innate gift which only some people possess (and it's true that some people seem to develop this skill without really trying) but as with all aspects of music, hard work usually beats talent in the end.
If you want to develop some serious playing by ear skills nothing beats time spent with a CD player or iPod, wearing out the rewind key while working out your favourite tracks. Working on your aural skills with dedicated play by ear training will give you a serious advantage and speed the process up considerably though!
Ear training skills which can help you play by ear include:
- Strong absolute pitch can allow you to hear the key of a song
- Relative Pitch skills will help you to pinpoint the hard to find the notes in riffs and melodies
- Chord ear training will make identifying progressions much easier
- Rhythm ear training will help de-mystify strange phrasing and syncopation
Using ear training exercises to develop each of these key listening skills can help your overall play by ear training and make it faster and easier to play music by ear.
Playing by ear is a wonderful skill to develop and one which is often neglected in the classical tradition, where players can become reliant on having the sheet music in front of them. With a bit of ear training under your belt, a limitless repertoire of music opens up to you.
Ear Training Resources for Playing By Ear
Many musicians assume that playing by ear is a gift you have to be born with. This is simply not true.
"Start Playing By Ear" explains how you can learn this most impressive and satisfying of musical skills.
Thousands upon thousands of songs use the same 3 or 4 chords - knowing about this makes learning to play them by ear much easier!
"3-Chord Songs and the 4-Chord Trick" is your all-in-one guide to these essential chord progressions.
The Learn to Play by Ear series explores the what, why and how of learning to play by ear, featuring a range of top guest experts to share their perspective on how to become a natural play-by-ear musician.
Articles about Playing By Ear
The Pentatonic Scale is the most popular scale in human history. Learn how to hear, transcribe and play pentatonic melodies with solfa with fun exercises.
Jazz guitarist Stefan Hall teaches that, with the right attitude, you can learn to “speak jazz” on your instrument by playing along with recordings.
Nose stuck in the sheet music? Come on out! Follow these simple steps and start playing violin by ear. It takes practice, but it’s easier than you think!
Playing melodies by ear can be easy with the right framework. Learn a 6-step process to learn the powerful solfa approach to relative pitch.
A simple framework for learning to play melodies by recognising intervals. Work through these 5 steps to play any melody by ear on your instrument.
A collection of the 7 best video tutorials on how you can use 4-chord progressions to play dozens of favourite hit songs on guitar. It’s as easy as 1-4-5-6!
A collection of the 5 best video tutorials on playing 3-chord rock and pop songs on guitar. Playing your favourite tunes is as easy as 1, 2, 3 – or A, D, E!