Playing by Ear
Music was with us long before we learnt how to read and write. Here’s my program for learning to play by ear:
Learning to Play by Ear:
A. Tonal Recognition
1. Student looks away from the keyboard; instructor plays two notes four intervals apart and asks student to identify which is the higher note. This is done until a best in five is achieved.
2. Repeat (1) at intervals of three, two and one with the same accuracy achievement.
B. Playing the Melody
1. Choose at least three simple songs that you like and know very well.
2. Sing the first line of the song three times.
3. Sing the first note of the song three times.
4. Find and play that first note on the keyboard three times.
5. Try playing the song starting with the first note without looking at the keyboard. This will take quite a lot of practice at first since you are teaching your brain a new skill of tonal recognition.
C. Chordal Harmony
There are three Primary Chords in every key. Do the following exercise with the primary chords in the key of C Major which are C, F and G in that order.
1. In half time, play the C chord twice, F once, G once and back to C twice.
2. Repeat this sequence ten times singing along to a constant beat for rhythm development.
Note: This exercise of chord sequence and harmony applies to all keys.
D. Playing the Chords
To play the chord accompaniment for any piece of music, you must first find the key of the piece of music. This should be easy if you have mastered the Chordal Harmony exercise. Here is how it’s done:
1. Play the first melody measure/phrase of the song and find the bass note that anchors the phrase. That note represents the key of the song. For example, if that note is C, then the key of the song is C Major for which the primary chords are C, F and G.
2. With your chordal harmony training you would be able to effect the necessary chord changes of the piece of music.