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Play by ear. Simple questions. Please help. #2561961
08/09/16 01:10 AM
08/09/16 01:10 AM
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pty1196 Offline OP
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pty1196  Offline OP
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Please help. Thanks.

I would like to learn to play piano by ear. I have a piano teacher and asked her questions about playing by ear but I still struggle a lot.

I have took piano lessons for 4 years. Learnt playing by having all notes in front of me (play by sight).

The process to learn by sight is:
play right hand 5 times
play left hand 5 times
play both hand slowly
keep increasing speed of playing both hand

When play by ear (e.g. play simple piece): what is the process, I need to do?

When play by ear, I keep hitting the wrong piano key. In play by sight, I have music sheet to correct my playing. In play by ear, how to correct mistake when I hit wrong piano key? There is no music sheet to correct me so the correction seems random.

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Re: Play by ear. Simple questions. Please help. [Re: pty1196] #2561975
08/09/16 02:54 AM
08/09/16 02:54 AM
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JohnSprung Offline
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This section of the forum is mostly for advanced classical players. You may get more and better responses if you post this in Adult Beginners.



-- J.S.

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Re: Play by ear. Simple questions. Please help. [Re: pty1196] #2562005
08/09/16 08:39 AM
08/09/16 08:39 AM
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Originally Posted by pty1196

I have took piano lessons for 4 years. Learnt playing by having all notes in front of me (play by sight).

The process to learn by sight is:
play right hand 5 times
play left hand 5 times
play both hand slowly
keep increasing speed of playing both hand

I'd have thought that after four years, you should be able to play - at sight - simple pieces with both hands right from the start. And learn new pieces the same way.
Quote
When play by ear (e.g. play simple piece): what is the process, I need to do?

When play by ear, I keep hitting the wrong piano key.

You need to familiarize yourself with the keyboard and intervals etc.

Start by playing simple tunes like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star by ear, with just RH. You should be able to play it without 'searching' for the right keys, at least in the keys of C and G major. If you can, add simple chords in LH. Play other tunes you know with RH in the same way, then add LH chords. You'll need to learn the basics of harmony. Without it, you won't get far.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Play by ear. Simple questions. Please help. [Re: pty1196] #2562099
08/09/16 04:48 PM
08/09/16 04:48 PM
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Damon Offline
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Originally Posted by pty1196
In play by sight, I have music sheet to correct my playing. In play by ear, how to correct mistake when I hit wrong piano key? There is no music sheet to correct me so the correction seems random.


Obviously a recording must become your reference.

Re: Play by ear. Simple questions. Please help. [Re: pty1196] #2562106
08/09/16 06:14 PM
08/09/16 06:14 PM
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hreichgott Offline
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Start with a tune you already know very well.
Your knowledge of the tune is what corrects you.
(If you have a tune you'd like to learn by ear and it's new to you, listen to it until you know it well enough to recognize right notes from wrong notes.)

Learning to play something by ear is basically memorizing it right away, so make sure you are learning in small sections, and not moving on until you're really secure with the current section. Give yourself time and plenty of correct repetitions. If you are making a lot of mistakes then slow down and stick with the current section for longer.

I'd stick with melody only, one hand, until you've learned a few tunes by ear.
Then find something with only 2 or 3 chords in the harmony and add either a blocked chord or a single note bass line.

PS If your question was, "I'm using a lot of trial and error to figure out pieces by ear, is that a problem," the answer is: it's not a problem but once you do find the notes don't just move on, repeat the little section a few times with all the correct notes to help yourself memorize them before moving on. Over time, you'll develop a better sense of what is where on the keyboard. You probably already know whether the note you're looking for is higher, lower, or the same as the one you just played; in time with practice you'll get to know how much higher or how much lower (intervals) more accurately without having to use trial and error as much.

Last edited by hreichgott; 08/09/16 06:19 PM.

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Re: Play by ear. Simple questions. Please help. [Re: hreichgott] #2562121
08/09/16 07:57 PM
08/09/16 07:57 PM
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Originally Posted by hreichgott
Your knowledge of the tune is what corrects you.
(If you have a tune you'd like to learn by ear and it's new to you, listen to it until you know it well enough to recognize right notes from wrong notes.)....


Even a tune that's not new to me can have quick little phrases where I have a really hard time figuring out what's going on. I'd give up and look in the book if I could find it.... ;-)



-- J.S.

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Re: Play by ear. Simple questions. Please help. [Re: pty1196] #2562192
08/10/16 11:40 AM
08/10/16 11:40 AM
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In the mountains of NC
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pty, the ability to read music is like driving to a destination using known routes on a Rand McNally map, whereas playing by ear is [typically] like meandering to your destination without guidance using trial and error, hoping you'll eventually get there. Eventually you will - but at the cost of wasted time and effort, along with the addition of unnecessary aggravation.

The association between notes and how they correspond with known pieces of music in known key signatures is a learned ability that isn't acheived overnight and can only come from lots and lots of experience, if at all. To me it's an unnecessary struggle when much better results can be accomplished through lessons. Once you become an established player you can concentrate on maintaining a repertoire of music that you've memorized, or if you've learned music theory you can use this knowledge to create new music with relative ease or play known pieces of music in different keys. But if you haven't learned the prerequisite basics first, you can't expect to think that having the ability to play by ear is going to be the slightest bit easy or even adventageous.

I'm not saying it's impossible, as many have "taught themselves" to play by ear, but they're a minority, and even though some may be able to play something like a banshee, I've found that they often lack what I find to be the foundation of piano music; emotion. None that I know of can at the drop of a hat accurately play the 30+ pages of Rhapsody in Blue, or the Grieg Piano Concerto, etc., so, what really is this playing by ear thing? Is it being able to play a piece of music similarly to how it was written, much like how it was writen, or as close as possible as to how it was written, in the hopes that noone will notice the difference?

I must ask, why, if you've taken lessons for 4 years and are able to read music, do you wish to add difficulty to your experience by wanting to learn to play by ear? Do you see this ability as some kind of advantage, or? At your stage of learning I don't see how taking on playing by ear is going to be beneficial to you, and see it rather as an avenue to unnecessary grief.

I suggest you continue on with your lessons and strive to become proficient at the piano. While doing so, be taught music theory to expand your knowledge of music structure. With this combined knowledge, any ideas about "playing by ear" will be replaced by playing by knowledge, which is a much better, more successful, and more respected method I assure you.

grin

Regards,
Andy


1979 Yamaha C7D - Yamaha P115 - Korg MicroKORG synth. - Korg Kaossilator Pro synth.
Re: Play by ear. Simple questions. Please help. [Re: DrewBone] #2562207
08/10/16 01:21 PM
08/10/16 01:21 PM
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peterws Offline
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You need to learn to hum a tune and play what you hear note by note. Until you do that you wont be able to play the accompaniment notes.
When listening to music, there are several tunes going at once. Hymns usually have 4, pop music has an active bass line. You need to be aware of the seperate parts, pick out the melody notes by ear and replicate them on the keyboard.
It helps if you cant read music!


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Re: Play by ear. Simple questions. Please help. [Re: DrewBone] #2562223
08/10/16 03:09 PM
08/10/16 03:09 PM
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JohnSprung Offline
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Originally Posted by DrewBone
pty, the ability to read music is like driving to a destination using known routes on a Rand McNally map, whereas playing by ear is [typically] like meandering to your destination without guidance using trial and error, ....


True, and it's a matter of how easy it is to reach the destination. On the flat valley floor when I sorta know where the address is, I can usually do without the map. Up in the hills, no way.

Playing by ear works for things that are easy and that I know well enough. But when it doesn't work, just go get the book.

I found the book for the tune I was having trouble with, and it turns out that the problem was that I had the phrase *before* the one I couldn't get wrong. It sounded OK to me -- in fact, I like mine better. But it just wouldn't connect to the rest of the tune.



-- J.S.

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Knabe Grand # 10927
Yamaha CP33
Kawai FS690
Re: Play by ear. Simple questions. Please help. [Re: peterws] #2562230
08/10/16 03:54 PM
08/10/16 03:54 PM
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Victoria, BC
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Originally Posted by peterws
You need to learn to hum a tune and play what you hear note by note. Until you do that you wont be able to play the accompaniment notes.
When listening to music, there are several tunes going at once. Hymns usually have 4,[...]


I don't totally agree with that analysis, although it may just be a question of semantics. Hymn tunes, by and large, are homophonic in nature; that is, there is one melody line (traditionally, the soprano or top line) and the other three voices are chordal accompaniment and are not really separate "tunes." In many cases, it doesn't matter which note of the chord is sung/played by which voice as long as the accompany three notes are in harmony with the vocal line and its melodic and harmonic direction.

That means that once you have the melody established, and once you know what the harmonic progression is going to be (or should be), then all you need is to fill in the accompaniment with the appropriate (block) harmony which is much more straightforward than trying to create separate "tunes."

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: Play by ear. Simple questions. Please help. [Re: pty1196] #2562279
08/10/16 08:15 PM
08/10/16 08:15 PM
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You should take ear training lessons to recognize intervals. You should also learn harmony, so you can see what sort of chords go with those intervals. You can find lessons on YouTube.


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Re: Play by ear. Simple questions. Please help. [Re: pty1196] #2562377
08/11/16 10:18 AM
08/11/16 10:18 AM
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Quote
When play by ear (e.g. play simple piece): what is the process, I need to do?


Hey PT, firstly I'd tell you that if you only want to play classical music then focus on the sight reading ... but if you want to have some real fun playing by ear you must learn to listen carefully, not only to what your fingers are playing but also to very easy recordings of tunes you want to learn first.

I have no idea where you live but most people can hum/sing "Silent Night", a pretty easy carol.

Give your ears a short quiz while listening to it; can your ears hear when the melody goes up and then down? Can your ears hear when the tune changes chords? Can you hear that some music tones are longer than others and that creates a rhythm/beat in your ears? Ask yourself whether you can waltz to this tune or not. These are rhetorical questions but as I was getting started learning to play by ear, just starting to listen for answers to those questions helped me with some basics to ear playing.

Here's a phrase of the melody in the key of C ... if the note is capitalized, the melody goes up and if it's not capitalized, the melody goes down, if in ( ), the note is repeating ... you let your ears solve the rhythm (you can do this, btw):

G A g e
G A g e
D (D) a
C (C) g

Can your ears hear the first two chord changes in those 14 tones and can you solve what changes and where with your ears?

Hint: there are only 3 chords in a basic version of this carol - C, F and G major chords.

At some point, usually less than a week, your ears will begin to hear melody/chord changes in many simple tunes that you know. Good luck!


Rerun

"Seat of the pants piano player" DMD


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