How to Learn to Play Music by Ear
What is playing by ear? I have
tried to play music every different way that I could just for fun, but
trying to hold the "F" chord on the guitar with my left ear just isn't
possible as far as I know. For me, it is a good thing that is not
what "playing by ear" means. Instead it refers to the ability to play music
based on what you hear rather than what you read in the form of written music.
Which is better? Of
course it is best to learn as much as you can and I am sure that the correct
answer is both, however, I have been to many bluegrass jam sections and I
have never seen the musicians playing from sheet music. So in my
opinion, by ear is better.
I can't seem to learn to play by ear. Why? I
believe that our minds work in complicated ways and many times there
are things that happen in our heads that we don't even know about.
Example: back when computers were becoming popular, I wanted to
learn about them. I asked several people to explain to me how
they worked. They so effortlessly explained that it takes so many bits to
make a bite and so many of something else makes a gig. Then there
was RAM and ROM and words like DOS and terms like "boot up". I can't
tell you what I wanted them to do with their computers after about an hour.
After experiences like that, I could not even think about a computer without getting
confused and getting a headache. I had learned that I could not
Later with a little help from my sister and brother in-law
Tim and Sandra!, sorry") things got better. They sat me down at the computer and said,
"you don't have to know all of that lingo, just click here". I did, it
worked, and here I am teaching you about bluegrass over the internet. A
little help from someone can work wonders!
Many people look at playing by ear as I did with the
computers. You can break that mind block by learning from someone
that has the ability to teach in a manner you find comfortable. Use my site and learn a little each day;
listen to bluegrass and pick out something that you want to learn and listen to it
over and over again. Think about how your instrument works and pick
note at a time. Try some different things no matter how bad it
sounds. If one note works, play it again and clean it up a little
the next time and so on. If something sounds bad, don't do it.
Many times I will be playing a song that I don't know, just
backup, and the other musicians will nod at me to take a break (break -
play solo, not go smoke).
Well, it is too late to say that I can't by the time they say go, so I put
in some kind of common "lead in" run and hope to hear some chord changes as
we go to lead me through it. I use an arrangement of runs and rolls
that will fit almost anywhere and soon it will be over and we all end up on
the same note together. Most of the time it works, and some might say
that I am good. I'm thinking, I just barely got out of that one!
What I am saying is, jump into it and mess up if you have
to. When you do, laugh it off with them and try it again.
There is no need to be ashamed, embarrassed, or nervous. Jump in
with both feet and kick something around. If you fall in the mud,
get up and laugh about it and keep kicking. They will not laugh at
you any more than you will laugh at them.
The number one rule is, "HAVE FUN"!
|This run can be used in many different ways. It is
mostly used with the forward roll and some others described on page
also takes in lesson 1, page
http://www.projectsandhobbies.com/MusicApril02.htm, playing up and
down the second string.
I will play this run slow and you see what you can hear. There
might be a little more added but you will see where it fits. First
listen to it Slow
Now let's add some to it to see what you can make it into. Now listen
to it Fast
The note that is marked "Bend" is a note that you will commonly use in
this manner. Listen to some of Earl Scruggs's music and you will
There is a slide from 1 to 2 at the beginning. The 3 marked
"Bend" will be hit several times. This section is not as well marked
as the previous lessons. The reason is that you need to start
picking out from sound rather than reading every detail. Everything
out there is not written down so it is important to start learning these
Banjo: This is a song
that my uncle use to play on the guitar. I play it on the banjo
just to remember him by. This song is "Kneel at the Cross".
It is played in "G" and the chords that go with it are C,D, and A.
The chords can be found Here.
Listen to it Here.