This page is available in : French
For a long time I was fascinated by the musicians who can play by ear. I have often tried, but except some simple melodies played by the right hand, it took forever to find the song’s notes. And for the left hand, I wasn’t able to find any chord. All this time I thought these musicians were either geniuses or they had a perfect pitch. This was unfortunately not my case
I’ve got 3 years of music theory and piano when I was little. But I was a really lame player. At 7, 8y old, working on scales and arpeggios or playing Czerny is not really funny and certainly not motivating to work seriously. So I hadn’t a very high level (in fact I don’t have yet a very high level now, but enough to play what I like).
Trying to play without teacher, I mainly acquired full of flaws which ask me a lot of work to remove (as my little finger ready to drink tea).
With the Internet birth, I began to download/buy pop-rock piano scores, but the level was often too difficult. I was hardly working for hours and hours on a piece and finally my husband told me he didn’t recognize the song … nice! Even if he was exaggerating a bit, it was frustrating anyway and that’s what motivated me to seek another method of learning.
He kept telling me “Try to play what you hear, do not read a music sheet when you play.” He was right.
“Music is something to listen, no to look, it comes through the ears and not through the eyes”
Well, easy to say…
And then, one day…
After a long conversation with my husband about music, languages and accents … I finally understood how to listen and interpret a piece and especially how to find the pleasure of playing, which is much more enjoyable than listening music.
At first, of course it took me a little time to be able to play a song by ear, especially to find the accompaniment.
I did a lot of researches on the net. I bought and read several methods to learn to play by ear (all in the language of Shakespeare). None of them was really revealing but each brought me their two cents. Many piano teachers have tried to teach me the harmonic rules, but I was never able to implement them, it never fit. Yes I know, I am a little blonde 😉
I kept trying, finding chords by chance and with time it was more easy. I began to notice a constant but it was never matching those harmonic rules I’ve learned. (Actually they did, but at that time I didn’t know yet all the variations of a chord)
So I made more researches and I finally found there and there tricks that helped me a lot. They especially helped me to understand how I was operating unconsciously and allowed me to control my method. Today, I have a good knowledge of music theory and harmonic rules, but I still use my own method to find a melody or the accompaniment chords that i find more easy and natural.
I tested it on my son and my husband, and after half an hour of work, they could play by ear a piece with the right hand whereas before they were quickly discouraged by the slowness of the conventional method and had never finished the first piano lesson in a traditional method.
Here is what my son was able to play after 10 minutes of explanations and 10 min training (his first “lesson”). Well, it’s not a Chopin’s nocturne, but for 20 minutes of work, I was surprised with the result. He never had more piano lessons but can play some melodies by ear after a few minutes of research.
Today I want to share with my pianists friends (and others) the happiness that my discoveries bring me.