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"Play Piano by Ear" by Simon Schott? #2234857
02/20/14 12:54 PM
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I'm slowly working my way thru this book, and was wondering whether anyone else here is either using it or has used it? Although I'm learning a lot of chords that I was (until now) unfamiliar with, I'm finding it difficult to remember them all and especially difficult to remember all of the chord progressions being presented.

While I like the overall presntation and style of the book, I haven't seen any specific exercises/drills to drum the progressions into memory. (I'm only up to Page 68 though.....) Are there specific exercises/drills to work on to help get these chord progressions "under my fingers"? Also, several of the chords are presented with the right hand playing 5 keys at once - some of them up to a ninth apart. That's quite a stretch for me! So, is it necessary to play all of these chords as written (for purposes of working through the book)?

Any thoughts about either the book or my questions would be appreciated! Thanks.


Bert
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Re: "Play Piano by Ear" by Simon Schott? [Re: newbert] #2234870
02/20/14 01:23 PM
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Originally Posted by newbert
I'm slowly working my way thru this book, and was wondering whether anyone else here is either using it or has used it?

I highly recommend it. It is quite a brilliant piece of teaching.
Quote

Although I'm learning a lot of chords that I was (until now) unfamiliar with, I'm finding it difficult to remember them all

Practice, practice.
Quote

Are there specific exercises/drills to work on to help get these chord progressions "under my fingers"?

Play them without referring to the sheet music until you memorize the different progressions. Practice them in different order and inversions.
Quote

Also, several of the chords are presented with the right hand playing 5 keys at once - some of them up to a ninth apart. That's quite a stretch for me! So, is it necessary to play all of these chords as written (for purposes of working through the book)?

As long as you keep the melody note on top, you can drop out one or two of the lower tones as you see fit.

Last edited by Michael Martinez; 02/20/14 01:25 PM.

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Re: "Play Piano by Ear" by Simon Schott? [Re: Michael Martinez] #2234991
02/20/14 04:20 PM
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Thank you for the response, Michael. I'm having a bit of a problem formulating my questions because the book is quite unique in it's style and presentation (IMO).

I guess what I miss (and usually expect in a book like this) are specific things marked "Exercise #nn - Practice THIS". (I guess that I sort of need that type of regimentation....). Instead, most pages include a two- to twelve or so- bar passage that is presented more as an illustration and is almost embedded in the text. Of course, I try them all out to see how they sound. But none are presented as being more-or-less important than others. Does each need to be totally mastered (meaning memorized and ingrained in the psyche) before moving on to the next? If so, it's going to take me a LONG time to get thru this.

Just looking for the best way to work my way thru the book.

Thanks.


Bert
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Re: "Play Piano by Ear" by Simon Schott? [Re: newbert] #2235004
02/20/14 04:52 PM
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Hey Bert, I would say don't worry about all the chords out there right now, pick a key you'd like to learn in first then just remember the sound of the I chord moving to the V chord than back to the I chord. Then remember how the I chord sounds moving to the IV chord then back to the I chord or to the V chord. Do your ears hear the sound of those relationships in the tunes you know how to sing? If yes, then start thinking about all the tunes that you can sing along while using those three chords with the left hand just tapping out the correct chord. You probably know a few hundred tunes you can accompany yourself, just pick ten of the easiest.

What you are doing is training you ears to hear what people who play by ear hear ... when you're ready, start playing melody with no less than 1 finger on your right hand using your ears only by remembering the sound the best chord makes. This ain't a horse race, just take your time getting your ears and fingers in the game (it's a game not a race grin).

Last edited by Rerun; 02/20/14 04:55 PM.

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Re: "Play Piano by Ear" by Simon Schott? [Re: Rerun] #2235102
02/20/14 07:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Rerun
Hey Bert, I would say don't worry about all the chords out there right now, pick a key you'd like to learn in first then just remember the sound of the I chord moving to the V chord than back to the I chord. Then remember how the I chord sounds moving to the IV chord then back to the I chord or to the V chord. Do your ears hear the sound of those relationships in the tunes you know how to sing? If yes, then start thinking about all the tunes that you can sing along while using those three chords with the left hand just tapping out the correct chord. You probably know a few hundred tunes you can accompany yourself, just pick ten of the easiest.

What you are doing is training you ears to hear what people who play by ear hear ... when you're ready, start playing melody with no less than 1 finger on your right hand using your ears only by remembering the sound the best chord makes. This ain't a horse race, just take your time getting your ears and fingers in the game (it's a game not a race grin).


Yes, Rerun - I can hear the differences between the I, IV and V chords, and I can play all of their inversions (in some keys) with the left hand. What's different (for me) about this book is that much of the voicings and harmonies is played with the RIGHT hand (actually both hands) - and I'm definitely not used to that. But it's a much fuller, richer sound IMO.

I know it's not a horse race, but I'm not the most patient guy in the world. LOL.

Thanks for your thoughts!


Bert
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Re: "Play Piano by Ear" by Simon Schott? [Re: newbert] #2235107
02/20/14 08:02 PM
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I am not familiar with this book but I teach another by-ear method (Suzuki) and I find it odd that a supposedly ear method is having you learn only from a book! Is there a recording/listening component that you haven't mentioned? The beauty of playing by ear is being free to play anything you've heard enough times to sing along, either just the melody, or a more full arrangement if the chord progressions are at your level enough.

One thing you could do is try to figure out, by ear with no score, trial and error, melody and harmony for a few pieces that are harmonically simple. Here are some that use only I V IV and only have scale tones in the melody (no accidentals).

Happy Birthday
Amazing Grace
Yankee Doodle
Oh When the Saints Go Marching In

Once you've figured out a tune, practice until you no longer have to use any trial and error.

Add vi and you can play almost the complete works of U2 smile


Heather W. Reichgott, piano http://heatherwreichgott.blogspot.com

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Verdi: Stabat Mater
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Re: "Play Piano by Ear" by Simon Schott? [Re: newbert] #2235329
02/21/14 08:04 AM
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Quote
from Bert: ... I can hear the differences between the I, IV and V chords, and I can play all ...


Hey Bert, I agree with everything Michael and Heather offered ... as to the above reply, let me add or clarify that when one is playing by ear, it's not only the ears recognizing/knowing the different sounds each chord makes, but the ears hearing ahead of time the chord that the tune is moving to next.

Like Heather mentioned, take "Amazing Grace" for instance, I'm gonna bet the ranch you can sing the first verse to that tune. In the key of "C", the first chord change away from the home chord "C" is on the word "sweet" and in a simple version the chord moves to F chord. I don't know about other ear players, but when someone asks me to play it, I'm not thinking about a chord progression, my ears are familiar enough with the sound of some of the chords in the key of C that they know ahead of time the tune is moving to the F chord at that point, you can use as many fingers on both hands to play it as you want, just use as many fingers on each hand as it takes to play it "easily" at this point ... it's far better to play a simpler well done version then to over complicate it and then play some clangors : ).

That's what's so much fun about playing by ear ... your grand kids may come up and ask you to play "3 Blind Mice", a tune that you know but maybe never thought about playing before. Many of those tunes it doesn't matter you've never played them before, your ears will tell the fingers ahead of time what to play and when.

It's all fun, just don't get frustrated by taking on too much at one time.

Last edited by Rerun; 02/21/14 08:15 AM.

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Re: "Play Piano by Ear" by Simon Schott? [Re: newbert] #2235466
02/21/14 12:42 PM
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Originally Posted by newbert
most pages include a two- to twelve or so- bar passage that is presented more as an illustration and is almost embedded in the text.


This is the implied exercise. You need to practice this passage over and over again until you have memorized it. Each such passage represents a typical chord progression along with the way you should voice it on piano, so you need to master each. The goal is to be able to be able to internalize it so you can draw on it at will.

I would say you don't need to master each *before* moving to the next. Rather: you can simultaneously work on mastering several. When you get bored practicing one, start on another. Your "lack of mastery" should never prevent you from playing. Part of the process of "mastery" is simply to "fumble" through things enough times until you get it.

Quote

Just looking for the best way to work my way thru the book.


My suggestion is concentrate on one chapter at a time, work through the chapter until you have a reasonable level of comfortableness - you don't have to *Master* the chapter, just get enough familiar with it so you know what's going on and you can mostly play what's in it, even with mistakes. In other words, if I ask you to voice a G7b9 in one of the ways that Schott usually does it, you know what I'm talking about.

Don't strive for technical perfection. Instead strive for the understanding of the chords and the ability to locate those chords on the keyboard.


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Re: "Play Piano by Ear" by Simon Schott? [Re: Michael Martinez] #2235721
02/21/14 08:52 PM
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Thank you all for your thoughtful posts about this. You all have provided great advice. I guess what prompted me to post my questions is that - unlike many instructional books - this one doesn't have a section that explicitly explains "How to Use This Book".

I need to review the chapters that I've already gone thru and REALLY internalize the information there. I think that my problem is that I can read music, so I CAN play the chord progressions as presented (from the scores, not from the chord names) - but I don't take the time to really "mentally connect" the chords with the chord name. Is there some advice that you could impart to help do this? Or is simply to slow down, say the chords as you play them? I'm an impatient sort and want to learn it all, but deep down I have to accept that it will take a lot of time.

I get lulled into thinking "Yeah-I can play that". Being exposed to new chords (for me) is quite interesting, and I sometimes feel that "OK - I've learned that (a new chord) and want to move onto what's next. But I'm playing it from the printed score, when the whole point is to get away from relying on the score, isn't it?. I sometimes lose sight of that goal.......

Thanks!


Bert
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Re: "Play Piano by Ear" by Simon Schott? [Re: newbert] #2235734
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Actually, it doesn't take that long to learn to play by ear ... you can probably sit on your couch and do one of the most important parts by thinking a tune (that you know) in your head and naming the chord it's changing to as it plays in the back of your head, then do the same for another 20 tunes you know. Some may have accidentals and minors you might scratch your head on at first, but once you have those sounds in your head like the I, IV and V, you'll start to get pretty good at hearing them come up too.


Rerun

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Re: "Play Piano by Ear" by Simon Schott? [Re: newbert] #2236689
02/24/14 08:37 AM
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Another exercise could be to select a familiar song. Print out the lyrics double spaced, and fill in the chord changes above the words. Obviously, one must settle on a key first. You can then commit a song to memory from one of these sheets at another time. I've got a collection of these. I'll be honest, they get to be a crutch too. Some chord progressions are easier and more cyclical than others. For instance some tunes are I, V, I, IV, etc. But another tunes goes round the circle of fifths. Until I grasped that association, I played it off the sheet. This is where a bit of theory comes in handy. Music theory in the descriptive, as apposed to the prescriptive.

Last edited by Farmerjones; 02/24/14 09:36 AM.

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Re: "Play Piano by Ear" by Simon Schott? [Re: newbert] #2236958
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Yes the goal is to get away from relying on the written score.


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Re: "Play Piano by Ear" by Simon Schott? [Re: newbert] #2237018
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Think about it like this: if I start out on C6 and I want to depart and cycle my way back to C6, what are the different ways I can do it? This is really what the book is all about.


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http://www.michael--martinez.com/music/
Re: "Play Piano by Ear" by Simon Schott? [Re: newbert] #2237197
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I think this book has some useful stuff, chromatic progressions, but I don't really think it's too good for learning to play by ear, especially if you're a beginner. I agree with others here who say there are better methods for playing by ear, starting with learning I, IV, V7 chords in key of C inside and out, making up your own arrangements, etc.

Music Box Dancer



Also good to learn the Circle of 5ths.


Last edited by Elssa; 02/25/14 02:10 AM.
Re: "Play Piano by Ear" by Simon Schott? [Re: newbert] #2237356
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Simon Schott was a cocktail pianist his entire life. He died when he was in his 90s and was still playing in a hotel at that age. In this book he shows you how he plays, which is to say he shows you how a competent cocktail pianist plays. And he simplifies it by limiting it to the key of C (which is not as simple as you think because there are key modulations and passing chords.) It's a bit too advanced for an absolute beginner, but it's definitely within reach of someone who has played some piano. One of the good things about the book is that he shows you how to voice the chords in both hands, in a manner suitable to this style of music, so that you are not left "guessing" as to which voicing you should choose.




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Re: "Play Piano by Ear" by Simon Schott? [Re: Michael Martinez] #2237539
02/25/14 04:55 PM
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Thank you for those videos, Michael. I understand some German, so these will be helpful.

Back to the book --- I generally don't look ahead in books I'm reading, preferring instead to plod along in the order that the author intended. But in this case, I finally made an exception to search for a consolidated section of exercises or drills to practice. I came across a chapter with what the author refers to as modules and module-chains. I see that many of the modules/module-chains are repeats of some of the illustrations imbedded in earlier chapters, so this will be really helpful during my practice sessions.

One question though -- This may be explained somewhere further on in the book, but I haven't found it yet -- Would you know the difference between a "module" (which appears to be a specifically-voiced chord progression) and a "module-chain"?

Thanks!


Bert
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Re: "Play Piano by Ear" by Simon Schott? [Re: newbert] #2238012
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I don't recall his usage of those terms. I'll try to remember later if I can take a look at the book and see what he's talking about.


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http://www.michael--martinez.com/music/
Re: "Play Piano by Ear" by Simon Schott? [Re: newbert] #2240339
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Originally Posted by newbert
One question though -- This may be explained somewhere further on in the book, but I haven't found it yet -- Would you know the difference between a "module" (which appears to be a specifically-voiced chord progression) and a "module-chain"?


Well, I just purchased the book and have reached page 51 where the first module is defined.

I would suggest that a module-chain is nothing more than a group of modules that are frequently found in a sequential arrangement of music.

Just a guess, but it seems logical ... at least to me.

As far as what to practice ...

I am holding off practicing much until I get to a place where I am actually seeing how these modules are going to be used in an actual piece of music. If that looks good to me, then the practicing will kick in.



Don

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Re: "Play Piano by Ear" by Simon Schott? [Re: dmd] #2240374
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Originally Posted by dmd
Originally Posted by newbert
One question though -- This may be explained somewhere further on in the book, but I haven't found it yet -- Would you know the difference between a "module" (which appears to be a specifically-voiced chord progression) and a "module-chain"?


Well, I just purchased the book and have reached page 51 where the first module is defined.

I would suggest that a module-chain is nothing more than a group of modules that are frequently found in a sequential arrangement of music.

Just a guess, but it seems logical ... at least to me.

As far as what to practice ...

I am holding off practicing much until I get to a place where I am actually seeing how these modules are going to be used in an actual piece of music. If that looks good to me, then the practicing will kick in.



Thanks for your input, Don. If you at Page 51, you're very close to seeing specific examples of the modules in actual pices of music. For example, on page 52 - although it's not labeled as such, the very last module is reminiscent of the ending to "When You Wish Upon a Star". Then in Chapter 3, he begins to refernce specific pieces of music - but only in bite-size chunks (not entire songs), such as "Solitude" and "A Fine Romance". I'm not familiar with all of them, but I guess that's what the included CD is for.

Also, towards the end of the book (Pages are not numbered in this section), there's a section of modules and module-chains which repeats many of the modules throughout the book and re-presents them all in a few pages. I feel that's the location of "exercises" to practice.


Bert
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Re: "Play Piano by Ear" by Simon Schott? [Re: newbert] #2240397
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We'll see ...

At this point, the book appears to be Mr. Schott spinning a "yarn" with all these musical terms which is basically telling us everything he knows about music from having played for years.

It may be interesting but I doubt that it is going to have us memorize a bunch of "modules" and then we just hook them together to form a tune.

I believe we are going to hear what we already know a good deal about already ...

Practice II V I's

Practice III VI II V I IV VII I

In other words, practice all of these chord sequences that occur frequently in tunes and then figure out how to hook them together along with the melody notes to play a standard tune.

I KNOW THAT !!!!

It is in the execution of that where the problem arises.

I hope this book is going to shed some light on exactly how to do that other than ...

Practice ... Practice ... Practice ...




Don

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Re: "Play Piano by Ear" by Simon Schott? [Re: newbert] #2240838
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The book gives you appropriate voicings for those chord progressions, and also goes beyond the "II V I" stuff by introducing chromatic movement, passing chords, and reharmonization. Which makes it richer and more appropriate for cocktail piano.


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Re: "Play Piano by Ear" by Simon Schott? [Re: newbert] #2241038
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I just bought it from Amazon. Unfortunately, this is my busy time of year at work, so you'll all be ahead of me....


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D

Joined: Apr 2009
Posts: 3,986
Pennsylvania
Originally Posted by JohnSprung
I just bought it from Amazon. Unfortunately, this is my busy time of year at work, so you'll all be ahead of me....


There is a business motto that goes something like this...

Quote
If you need something done on time, give it to the busiest person to do


And remember ... this is not a race.


Don

Casio PX-160, Mix 5 Five-Channel Compact Mixer, DR 880 Drum Machine, Spacestation v.3 Powered Stereo Monitor
Re: "Play Piano by Ear" by Simon Schott? [Re: newbert] #2256867
04/04/14 05:11 PM
04/04/14 05:11 PM
Joined: Nov 2012
Posts: 516
California
M
Michael Martinez Offline
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Michael Martinez  Offline
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M

Joined: Nov 2012
Posts: 516
California
newbert: how are you coming along with this?


Music Educator, Computer Engineer, avid reader of literature, enjoyer of the outdoors
http://www.michael--martinez.com/music/
Re: "Play Piano by Ear" by Simon Schott? [Re: Michael Martinez] #2256914
04/04/14 07:07 PM
04/04/14 07:07 PM
Joined: Jan 2013
Posts: 1,289
Upstate New York, USA
N
newbert Offline OP
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newbert  Offline OP
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Joined: Jan 2013
Posts: 1,289
Upstate New York, USA
Originally Posted by Michael Martinez
newbert: how are you coming along with this?


Unfortunately, at a standstill at the moment. As usual, I find myself being pulled into many directions and have difficulty focusing on only one thing/course/book (including one of yours...).

That, plus I'm going thru some health issues currently which have taken time away from the piano.


Bert
[Linked Image] [Linked Image] [Linked Image]
Re: "Play Piano by Ear" by Simon Schott? [Re: newbert] #2256960
04/04/14 09:49 PM
04/04/14 09:49 PM
Joined: Aug 2011
Posts: 2,625
Philadelphia area
D
Dave B Offline
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Dave B  Offline
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D

Joined: Aug 2011
Posts: 2,625
Philadelphia area
Hang in there Newbert. I've found playing the piano very helpful when I'm not well. Hope you can back into it soon.


"Imagine it in all its primatic colorings, its counterpart in our souls - our souls that are great pianos whose strings, of honey and of steel, the divisions of the rainbow set twanging, loosing on the air great novels of adventure!" - William Carlos Williams
Re: "Play Piano by Ear" by Simon Schott? [Re: Dave B] #2257133
04/05/14 10:39 AM
04/05/14 10:39 AM
Joined: Jan 2013
Posts: 1,289
Upstate New York, USA
N
newbert Offline OP
1000 Post Club Member
newbert  Offline OP
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Joined: Jan 2013
Posts: 1,289
Upstate New York, USA
Originally Posted by Dave B
Hang in there Newbert. I've found playing the piano very helpful when I'm not well. Hope you can back into it soon.


Thanks, Dave.

I've suffered from anxiety issues on and off most of my life, and am going thru a difficult spell right now. Unfortunately, I'd say that I'm an "impatient perfectionist", but a mediocre pianist. Bad combination that results in frustration, which doesn't help matters.


Bert
[Linked Image] [Linked Image] [Linked Image]
Re: "Play Piano by Ear" by Simon Schott? [Re: newbert] #2257432
04/05/14 11:38 PM
04/05/14 11:38 PM
Joined: Aug 2011
Posts: 2,625
Philadelphia area
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Dave B Offline
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Dave B  Offline
2000 Post Club Member
D

Joined: Aug 2011
Posts: 2,625
Philadelphia area
For me, the view is worth the climb. I find joy in music and it can be spiritually uplifting. I'm not a "perfectionist" and I'm still learning "patients", yet there are times when I get lucky and play a few passages of real music. Keeps me coming back.


"Imagine it in all its primatic colorings, its counterpart in our souls - our souls that are great pianos whose strings, of honey and of steel, the divisions of the rainbow set twanging, loosing on the air great novels of adventure!" - William Carlos Williams
Re: "Play Piano by Ear" by Simon Schott? [Re: Elssa] #2258264
04/07/14 03:17 PM
04/07/14 03:17 PM
Joined: Aug 2011
Posts: 5,654
Reseda, California
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JohnSprung Offline
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JohnSprung  Offline
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Joined: Aug 2011
Posts: 5,654
Reseda, California
Originally Posted by Elssa
I think this book has some useful stuff, chromatic progressions, but I don't really think it's too good for learning to play by ear, especially if you're a beginner.


Indeed, this is the result of a misplaced emphasis in the translation of the title, "So Spielen Sie Barpiano, Frei und Ohne Noten". It's really "How to Play Bar Piano, Freely, and without Sheet Music". He uses a lot of both lead sheet and grand staff notation. You pretty much have to read the book at the piano or keyboard, and play the music that's interspersed between the words.

So far, I like his approach of describing the chords as eccentric characters in a family, with their likes, dislikes, and interactions. He also distinguishes between chords made entirely of notes from the key and those that "borrow" -- I haven't seen that anywhere else. His chord notation is somewhat different than we use -- just "j" instead of "maj", using the little circle instead of "dim". The one substantive difference is that his diminished isn't just the triad, it always includes the seventh. I'm on page 58....

The examples do go pretty quickly from dead easy to farther than I can comfortably stretch.


Last edited by JohnSprung; 04/07/14 04:24 PM.

-- J.S.

[Linked Image] [Linked Image]

Knabe Grand # 10927
Yamaha CP33
Kawai FS690
Re: "Play Piano by Ear" by Simon Schott? [Re: newbert] #2375864
01/20/15 11:43 AM
01/20/15 11:43 AM
Joined: Oct 2014
Posts: 64
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Brandon Sip Offline
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Brandon Sip  Offline
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Joined: Oct 2014
Posts: 64
Hey everyone! I see this thread is about 9 months old, but was wondering if any of you who were doing this have finished the book. And what your thoughts were? Did it help?

I'm going through the book right now, am on page 70. I feel like I'm going through the book too fast. I find myself looking more at the staff notation than just the chord indications in each of the examples. I got some Post-It notes to block out the staff notations so I could focus on the chords. I know I'm not necessarily playing the correct melody when I do that, but I feel like it's helping me drive in what the chords actually are.

Coupled with Paul Abrahams' Learn Jaxx Piano Online, I feel like if I stick with these 2, by the end of the year I should be leaps and bounds ahead of where I am now. This book doesn't point it out...not that I've seen yet, but I realized these Dm7-G7 progressions he's teaching now are II-V progressions. I tend to end each example with a C chord then - the I - and it sounds very nice. I know II-V-I is a popular progression based on my learning so far from Paul Abrahams.

Anyway, anyone who has actually finished the book, I would like to hear some final thoughts and feed back.

Cheers!

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