Is Playing By Ear 👂Easy?

Playing By Ear 👂

I have been asked the question, “Is playing by ear 👂 easy?” I would like to answer that question in this way by saying that it is as easy as you know how. You may say to me what does that mean? It simply means that you are able to play by ear as much as you have the skill, knowledge and practical application.

I guess I can say that the response is a scaled response. It’s like a language. The more vocabulary you know, the more you are able to speak and understand. I wrote an article a while back that talks about this called Music as a Language where I talk about how children learn to speak before learning to read. They learn sounds of the language and they are able to express themselves before learning all the grammar, and the rules of the language and the theory of an object, verb and subject.

So in reality the answer is yes. Playing by ear is easy if you know how. The reality is my playing by ear is different than Jacob Collier, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Victor Wooten, Herbie Hancock, Harry Connick Jr., Winton Marsalis, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Santana, or Chick Corea. It’s as different as the physical sound of their voices. You just have to keep on doing the best that you can as you Play It By Ear.

13 thoughts on “Is Playing By Ear 👂Easy?”

  1. David I always enjoy reading your posts. They’re concise, uncluttered, and easy to follow. I never would have made the connection between learning language and developing the intuitiveness of playing by ear.

  2. When I was a kid, I could play almost anything by ear on the piano. I’ve lost my piano skills, but I think if I tried, I would still be able to play some things by ear. I also sing entirely by ear because even though I know how to read music to some extent, I can’t quite manage to match the notes on the paper to the sound coming out of my mouth.

  3. This confirms something that I’ve felt but now I know why. I have never learned to read music nor learned to play an instrument. If I wanted to try to teach myself I would have to figure out how to go about it. The thought of having to read music was enough to discourage me. Now I know I don’t have to.

    1. I think that there is a place for written music. It provides a way for people to share their compositions with others. For myself, I wish that I could read music more fluently. Part of my problem is that when I learn a song it’s hard for me to play it the same way as it’s written. I have to work on that.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts

  4. Great post David! I remember when I was young(er) (way younger) my now hubby would play by ear. I never figured out how he was able to do it so well.

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