Endurance – Never Give Up!

The Endurance Ship in Full Sail - Image Courtesy of Wikipedia

Endurance – is defined by Wikipedia as the ability of an organism to exert itself and remain active for a long period of time, as well as its ability to resist, withstand, recover from, and have immunity to trauma, wounds, or fatigue... Endurance may also refer to an ability to keep going through a tough situation involving hardship, & stress.

Ernest Shackleton - Image Courtesy of Wikipedia

This is exemplified by the Imperial Trans-Antartic Expedition that was run by Sir Ernest Shackleton from 1914 to 1917. It’s also called the Endurance Expedition because of how many months the people on the expedition had to wait to be rescued in very poor and cold conditions. The human spirit can cause a man to endure great things. These men endured because they believed that their leader, Sir Ernest Shackleton would return for them. He did!

And just as these men endured you have to endure as you learn something new or even as you continue in whatever task you’re engaged in. I remember when I started playing the guitar, I had to endure the calluses and hand pain. But I’m glad I did, because the end result is great opportunities to Play It By Ear.

Smile and remember that today is another opportunity to Play It By Ear!

Say It Ain’t So – 9% of Kids Have ADHD!


Why Don’t French Kids Have ADHD? This is a great question that as a parent I don’t have an answer to. Here’s an excerpt from the article above:

In the United States, at least 9% of school-aged children have been diagnosed with ADHD, and are taking pharmaceutical medications. In France, the percentage of kids diagnosed and medicated for ADHD is less than .5%. How come the epidemic of ADHD—which has become firmly established in the United States—has almost completely passed over children in France?

I was appalled to see that 9% – 9 PERCENT – of children in the U.S. are diagnosed with ADHD as opposed to 0.5% in France. Say it ain’t so! I don’t get it! What’s wrong with our society that we could allow something like this to be allowed. Is it because as parents we are too lazy? We look for the easy way out and we treat the symptoms instead of the root cause of the problem.

I daresay that it’s easy to see this phenomenon in our medical profession as a whole. I remember when I went to the Doctor and my cholesterol was extremely high, my doctor’s immediate response was to out me on Lipitor! Instead of trying to figure out what caused my high count, I was given a pill. I had another doctor try to give me an inhaler for asthma, but I was determined to not be dependent on medications, so I did something about it. (See my blog post on being Healthy).


I think one of the reasons for this kids ADHD epidemic is that kids are not active enough. A lot of kids are sedentary from the time they get home from school till the next day. What are they doing? They’re watching TV or playing video games.

Another reason is that a lot of kids feast on junk food as part of their regular diet. Foods filled with processed sugars, High Fructose Corn Syrup and Fats alter personalities. Soda with caffeine, as well as other fast food all contribute to the epidemic as outlined in the article.

So how do we fix this? Get outside with our kids and eat healthy and we will be much better off.

Smile and remember that today is another opportunity to Play It By Ear!

You Gotta Practice!!


Take 6, is a six member acapella gospel jazz vocal band that has been singing together for 25 years. I recently had the privilege of seeing them perform live and their show is phenomenal. They take this playing/singing by ear thing to a new level.

They recorded this one song, “Smile”, a few years ago and they did it at the concert. What was amazing though was watching Khristian Dentley play the piano on this song.

I was fascinated with the chords, runs, and the manual dexterity he displayed as he tickled the ivories and ebonies. And I asked myself the question, “Self? Can I Do That?”

I heard myself say a resounding, “YES!”

But How Can I Do It? How can you do it?
The answer is practice! Consistent Practice! Consistent, Persistent Practice.

What Do You Practice?

Practice what you know in all the keys. Sometimes you may be really slow in one key or another. But over time this will change as you become more familiar with the strange/weird key. Next time I’ll touch on this some more. As well as some tips and tricks to listen for. Until then…

Smile and remember that today is another opportunity to Play It By Ear!

Focus on the Task At Hand – Scheduling


So seeing my favorite group – Take 6 –  has fueled a lot of blog posts. All of them are related to life and music, but the one thing I’ve noticed is that I keep jumping back and forth between them and only one has been posted. LOL What I need to do is to Focus on the Task At Hand!

Its easier to say than do. You want to get this task done, but you can’t seem to get it together. How do you get through it?

I’ve found that I can only get through the Task if I can Schedule it. Just recently my son wanted me to work out using the Focus T-25 Workout. Sobieski told him he had to wake-up at 6 in the morning to do it with me. And we did it together!


It was really cool to see the plan come together and make it to completion… Very Gratifying! So for me it was all it took was for me to schedule it. I had to put a number to it: A time frame if you will. So all in all Keep Smiling, set your calendar and Play It By Ear!

Smile and remember that today is another opportunity to Play It By Ear!

I’m A Fan! – What Else Does It Take?


So I had the opportunity to see my favorite group tonight – Take 6. They are absolutely amazing. I was blown away by the sheer musicality of the performance as well as the passion and love for what they do. Take 6 has been doing this as a band for 25 years.

25 years is a long time to be doing anything, and they’ve been doing it at a very high level for this long. The question remains: what does it take to achieve this kind of success in a entertainment saturated marketplace of 2017?

Hundreds of thousands of hours of rehearsals and overcoming naysayers at every turn. There’s a lesson here for all who want to Play It By Ear… Keep pressing through… Keep moving forward as I always say #ForwardEver #BackwardNever. This is the key. You can’t let anything keep you back from your dream. Putty our dream into action and keep it moving…

I’m a fan and I can see the results of their dream after 25 years. It’s great to see. What can you do with that dedication for 25 years? I daresay you smile and keep Playing It By Ear!


Smile and remember that today is another opportunity to Play It By Ear!

Accelerando – Play It Better When Healthy!


Accelerando – Gradually getting faster as time passes by. It is a term used in music to express a dynamic marking. When executed correctly, the music soars and the heart sings! You may feel like shouting or you may get goosebumps. Or you just say, “Aaaah” when the last sounds fade into posterity… Yes, it makes music better.

A few years ago I went to the doctor to be checked out for shortness of breath. I would get short breath with increased heart palpitations just from waking up the stairs. It was bad.

My doctor told me that I had Adult Onset Asthma, and prescribed an inhaler and other medications to help me cope with the symptoms of my asthma. I was determined to not be dependent on medications for the rest of my life. Additionally my family tree has other health risk factors including Cancer and Diabetes. So after much prayer and deliberation I decided to accelerate my wellness.  God is Good.

So in December 2012 I began a journey of commitment to accelerating my wellness by doing push-ups, sit-ups, and squats, with each day adding adding 1 more repetition than the day before. My thought process was simple… If I could do 1 push-up, sit-up, and squat, then I could do 2, and the next day 3 and accelerate it down the line. So by the end of December 2012 I did 31. Today’s total is 315 push-ups, and sit-ups.

One thing that helped me succeed and excel in this process, is that I joined a support group called 28 Days To a New Me which is a journey of commitment… Another thing that helped me was my Faith in God! In that God provided the strength to carry on.


So today I’m able to run these stairs and without wheezing, because I’ve accelerated my health in the right direction. I’ve also been through the Beachbody Insanity program 2x and now I’m on my 3rd time through. And I’m able to smile today. I can play longer. I can jump up and down and not feel like I’m about to pass out when I’m directing the choir. My mind is clearer and I can think much better.  I’m glad that I’ve accelerated my health as it it increases my opportunities to Play It By Ear!

En-Chord – Play That Chord Again!


In a recent blog post about Chords, I talked about the 4 most commonly used chord types – Major, Minor, Diminished, and Augmented! In most popular contemporary music, the most common chords used are Major and Minor chords.

But Mr. PIBE, how are these chords created or formed? Major chords are formed on different notes on the scale: 1, 4 and 5. Minor chords are formed on notes 2, 3, and 6. Each note in a scale is assigned a number from 1 to 7.  For example, in the key of C Major, C is 1, and D is 2 etc.

C-1  D-2  E-3  F-4  G-5  A-6  B-7  C-1

Chords are formed by playing alternating notes simultaneously. C Major is C-1  E-3  G-5. This chord is a major chord because there’s a major 3rd between C and E, and a minor 3rd between E and G. D Minor is D-2 F-4 A-6. So you could play a chord on every note in the scale. Each chord has a type based on the position in the scale.

1 – Major (C Major)
2 – Minor (D Minor)
3 – Minor (E Minor)
4 – Major (F Major)
5 – Major (G Major)
6 – Minor (A Minor)
7 – Diminished (B Diminished)

So there you have it. The secret of which chords are used on which position on the scale. Go forth and prosper! And remember that everyday is an opportunity to Play It By Ear

P. I. B. E.

Today is another opportunity to Play It By Ear

Growing Pains – Ouch!


Starting anything new involves some growing pains. Even restarting something after a brief lay off has its own share of pains. It is my belief that these pains help more than hurt, and they are useful for weeding out people who aren’t committed as well as strengthening those who are committed.

Some of the pains that you feel as you grow are physical, and some are mental. One of the most obvious examples I’m music is the pain associated with learning to play an instrument like the guitar. Your fingertips hurt. Your wrist hurts from holding the guitar neck. Your shoulders hurt from holding the strap. And the list goes on. These pains are necessary though as they help to build calluses and generally strengthen the muscles. As it has been said – “No Pain! No Gain!” Or as I’ve come to embrace it – “Yes Pain! Yes Gain!”

Sadly, a lot of the mental pains we encounter are self inflicted. These are pains of frustration with self; pains of fear of failure; pains of inadequacy; and a host of others. Can you think of anymore mental pains that people encounter as they try to learn or do something new? Additionally there are other pains that are inflicted by others. Usually they are detractors that try to discourage you and pull you down with negativity.

The thing to do is to keep moving forward. Tell yourself, “Self? You can do this!!! You are not a failure!!!” You can hold your head up knowing that the pains you experience are temporary.


This statement is so true. The pains that you would experience Do NOT Last!!! Transient is the name of the game for pain. You will get through this.

So put a smile on your face and remember today is just another opportunity to Play It By Ear.

OK. I’m Listening! Now What?


OK. I’m listening. Now What Do I Do? The answer is very simple
– Active Listening – Focused Listening!!

What is Active Listening? It is the act of Listening Deliberately! It’s making a conscious decision to pay attention to the source of the sound that you’re Listening to; To give it your Undivided Attention… In Active Listening there are no distractions.

For example, you can’t be analyzing and learning to play Chick Corea’s “Spain” while watching TVs and eating a burrito. Its just not possible, for most people at least!

Active Listening means your engaged in what you’re listening to. You look for the nuances of sound in the context of the auditory mosaic. There are no shortcuts in this listening process. Every decibel is examined to provide a framework of reference in deciphering meaning.

Sometimes even when you listen as intently as you can, you may miss stuff. How do you combat that? There are tools out there that can help you listen better than you can on your own. Tools like Audacity for PC, Audio Speed Changer for Android, & Music Speed Changer for IOS…

OK. So I’m listening! Now What?
Listen AGAIN and then Play It By Ear!

P. I. B. E

Today is another opportunity to Play It By Ear

Shut Up and Listen – YES!

As a kid I learned this in school. Before you cross the street you need to:


The same exists for Playing By Ear. In learning or playing a piece, it’s one of the most critical skills to learn and master as it is in life. But it’s crucial to the whole process.

My mom always said that you have one mouth and two ears for a reason. So we have to listen to 2x as much as we speak.

But seriously, the art of listening is important. I daresay it’s the most important part of this process.

So keep it a little quiet and LISTEN, so you could Play It By Ear

P. I. B. E

Today is another opportunity to Play It By Ear

Fermata (Pause) – Managing Failure

In all this talk of music, scales and chords, I realized that none of this would make any sense if you don’t take a step forward.

Let’s FERMATA for a moment… And think about it….

Let’s say that you want to learn to play by ear, and you’ve come to a place where you know all the scales, all the chords, all the intervals in all 12 keys, and you still can’t GET IT! What do you do? Should you give up? Should you quit after 10 times? Or 100? Or 1000 ? NO! It’s not an option!

When James Dyson was building his bagless vacuum, he experienced a lot of failure. But he didn’t quit! He built 5,126 prototypes that did not work.  He had 5126 examples of what NOT to do. But his 5,127th vacuum became the first of millions of vacuums that did work!

So should you quit?

NO! Just FERMATA and keep Playing It By Ear!

P. I. B. E.

Today is another opportunity to Play It By Ear

On One Ac-Chord – The Next Steps

Today was a good day. I had three opportunities to Play It By Ear.  The best one was at a fund raising concert in Dedham MA. It was great being able to sing with my family – together! We were on one Ac-Chord!


The next thing after knowing your scales is to put chords together. What is a chord? A chord is three or more notes played at the same time. They come in 4 main types – Major, Minor, Augmented and Diminished… Each one of these chords are defined by the intervals between each note…

What’s most important is playing the right chords. And that produces a lifetime of Playing It By Ear!!!

P. I. B. E.

Today is another opportunity to Play It By Ear

Upscaling The Walls – Get A Move On!!!

So yesterday I talked about musical scales and its effect on playing by ear. I thought about it for a little while and I came to the realization that in order for anybody to succeed in life they have to Upscale The Walls that surround them.

What do you mean Mr. Play It By Ear? Well, its simple. When ever you have to do anything in life, no matter what it is, you have obstacles in your way. In other words there are Walls around you that prevent you from doing that thing.

Walls of Laziness.
Walls of Resistance.
Walls of Nay Sayers.
Walls of a Lack of Funding.
Walls of Your Own Fears of Inadequacy.
Walls of Just Plain FEAR.

To get your task/goal accomplished you have to Upscale The Walls that surround you.  It may not happen all at once. The easiest way to get over the wall is one handhold or foothold at a time. You just keep climbing, grabbing hold and you will get over the walls before you know it. There is no other way. Dory from the the movie, Finding Nemo, had the ultimate Wall Upscaling Strategy (WUS) with  her mantra, “Just Keep Swimming. Just Keep Swimming, Swimming!!!”

My mantra to you is Just Keep Climbing, Smiling and Play It By Ear!!!


Scaling The Walls!!!

What do you mean I have to learn scales? Can’t I just play like you play? Huh?

Simple Answer?


You have to scale the walls. Playing by ear is a lifetime endeavor. You will always be learning as a musician and as a person. So one of the things that help you learn to play by ear is knowledge of the different musical scales that currently exist. In most modern popular music, there are two main scales that everyone should learn [Drumroll]

They are Major Scales and Minor Scales. They are the foundation of all the modern popular music. So it behooves you to learn them. Why?

It helps you to Play It By Ear.

So until next time keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars