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Playing by ear

Who relies on ear playing over reading?


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    110

TimboSax

Deputy junior apprentice 2nd class
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Cambridgeshire
A while ago I was jammin’ at a friend’s house, and we had nobody on piano. This friend’s daughter is a concert pianist and was staying for the weekend, and we persuaded her to help-out on keys. Without dots she was useless!
Yep, my daughter is grade 8 piano, studying music at Uni, and can't play without the dots.

Whereas I can't read the dots and have played by ear for 40 years.
 

dooce

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,431
Location
Daventry
At Christmas, I teamed up with another villager who plays cornet in a brass band, and with me on baritone, we wandered the streets playing carols. Nothing fancy, just good old traditional stuff, but even though she has played them probably hundreds of times, she couldn't do it without dots. I guess that's the brass band way, you never see them without music in front of them, but given their fairly complex arrangements its not that surprising.

(I was using dots as well but only because I had written bass and counter-melody lines for the bari and didn't have time to memorise them....)
 

brianr

Senior Member
Messages
1,216
IMHO the vast majority of us can play by ear.

all it needs is a desire/wish to do so, coupled with doing it/practice.

Im really confident that, if done slowly, a little every practice session, you will get better at it.
Just like applying yourself to playing a new scale, or a difficult section of written music.
 
Last edited:

thomsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
4,200
Location
Sweden
I’m finding this discussion fascinating.
A while ago I was jammin’ at a friend’s house, and we had nobody on piano. This friend’s daughter is a concert pianist and was staying for the weekend, and we persuaded her to help-out on keys. Without dots she was useless!
The group I played with was going to for a hour at a small street festival. The piano man had to cancel and we had no piano player. It was just blues songs; " Dust My Brrom, Key ", " To the Highway" ... and that sort of songs. I asked my wife (a 100% reader , classic piano and church organ) if she could play piano with us. She had just 3 days to learn the songs. She said ok, just give med sheet music and not only the chords., So I sms and e-mailed friends (musicians and music teachers) if they could help us. We bought some sheet music as well . 3 days later we played with piano. And it was really good. She was not just hammering piano keys, she had a nice flow over th piano keys. But to have sheet music at a blues gig ?????? With dots we got a more steady rhythm. She told us that she could also play bass pedal if the bass player couldn't make it. A mix of music education and playing by ear is good.
 

Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
Café Supporter
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6,208
Location
Whitchurch, North Shropshire UK
I’m finding this discussion fascinating.
A while ago I was jammin’ at a friend’s house, and we had nobody on piano. This friend’s daughter is a concert pianist and was staying for the weekend, and we persuaded her to help-out on keys. Without dots she was useless!
It's an entirely different skill set. Organists are trained in improvisation and anyone who has their ARCO or FRCO (Associate and Fellow of Royal College of Organists) will be able to improvise on pretty well any tune you give them
 

mizmar

Member
Messages
481
Location
Trondheim, Norway
Being still a learner, at this moment dots Vs ear are a movable feast.
Today, as there's still social distancing here, the other half decided she'd march in solidarity round the house. So; I could only manage The Internationale from the page but could do The Red Flag by ear?!?
(So that didn't work, she's Swedish and thought The Red Flag was some German lullaby or something)
Happy 1st May, comrades.
 

Dibbs

Member
Messages
736
Yep, my daughter is grade 8 piano, studying music at Uni, and can't play without the dots.

Whereas I can't read the dots and have played by ear for 40 years.
Funny. My Father was an excellent reader and excellent ear player. He used to call anyone who couldn't do both a "half baked musician". I guess you and your daughter are fully cooked between you.
 

aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
Cafe Moderator
Messages
12,276
Location
London
Being still a learner, at this moment dots Vs ear are a movable feast.
Today, as there's still social distancing here, the other half decided she'd march in solidarity round the house. So; I could only manage The Internationale from the page but could do The Red Flag by ear?!?
(So that didn't work, she's Swedish and thought The Red Flag was some German lullaby or something)
Happy 1st May, comrades.
That's my childhood repertoire (I think I noodled Red Flag on 1st of May, on sax: jazzy)
The Internationale is not the easiest by ear.
Like the Marseillaise: they start with a fourth, then they mess you up
 

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