Written and published weekly by Cheryl Johnson, the Musician's Helper
Please enjoy the content and get in touch if you have questions. I'm interested in your concerns and happy to help!
He that hath an ear, let him hear. (Matthew 11:15)
How many musicians are able to play by ear? Sadly not all of us can hear a note and find it on our instrument of choice. For those that are blessed with that “ear” for music, life is easier in the music world. I can read a chord chart, but I can also listen and play the note without music most of the time.
One trick I use is watching. When I am able to watch the keyboard or organ, I can follow the left hand of the player, even if it’s a song I’ve never heard. The best of both worlds is being able to play by ear and also read music.
The discussion is which is best, reading music or playing by ear? The answer is simple. Both are an important part of being a good musician. Which comes first?
For most, the ear is the first experience with music. You hear singing and as a child, sing simple little songs like Mary Had A Little Lamb. How do the kids learn this?
They learn by hearing, by ear. Just like a child learning their ABC’s. If they sing the little song, it not only helps them not only learn the alphabet, but it’s also another introduction to music.
Just as a child listens and imitates the nursery rhymes, you can listen and imitate notes to play by ear.
A beginner music student has a book of simple songs. The teacher plays thru a song and then begins teaching the notes. The next step is to look at the notes when they are played. Now, if the student is eager to learn and paying attention, they’ll begin to match that sound to the symbol of the written music. Their brain will begin to train itself to recognize that note.
I remember in band that when our director had us to sight read. It was sometimes a struggle to me because I relied more heavily on playing by ear. My preferred method is playing by ear. However, if one relies too heavily on just one method, it could prevent the other method from developing. Encouraging the development of both skills is the key. When you acquire both methods you will have become a well rounded musician.
Again, thanks for reading my post today. And as usual, I have some recommendations on items a musician may need. Please take a look at these items. For any beginner, they will be a helpful tool That’s a wrap so remember, B# and God Bless!!
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