So you want to learn how to play piano by ear, huh? Is there any magic to it? Are only a select few able to do it? Is it possible for you to learn to play music by ear?
Well, actually, to the person whose ear hasn’t been trained to much of a degree, listening to a fellow human being bring to life on those ivories a rendition of a song he or she just heard on the radio might seem like magic. But that can serve as an inspiration to you rather than a reason to think you don’t have what it takes. It may be true that playing by ear comes easier to some than others but that’s not enough of a reason to believe, even for a moment, that you are not capable of it.
“There’s no one musical in my family.”
“I never had a music lesson in my life.”
“I’m too old to learn how.”
“I’m tone deaf.”
“It takes a special gift to be able to do that.”
Statements like these are a dime a dozen… and like many things that are a dozen, they don’t hold much true value. Let’s face it. It’s easier to cop out and say “I can’t.” Saying that relieves one of any need to try. If you can convince yourself that there is no possibility, then you don’t have to burden yourself with the challenge of it, right?
Gosh, it really doesn’t have to be that way. The truth is: if you say you CAN’T, it simply means that you:
Plain and simple.
The fact of the matter is that each and every one of us has enjoyed success performing “by ear.” It started when you were in your infantry. You heard those around you making sounds of one kind or another. You didn’t judge or analyze any of it. You simply heard a particular sound and, after hearing it over and over again, the same sound eventually sprung off your own lips – and it continued. You heard one sound after another. You didn’t give it much thought (which was to your benefit). Your brain was able to make distinctions in what you heard and you soon were able to repeat those various sounds.
You quickly realized that “cat” didn’t sound like “dog”… that “hungry” differed from “thirsty”… that “uncle” and “auntie” had different meanings. Way before that, you learned that a certain sounds got you the bottle in your mouth and quite a different sound resulted in your getting picked up and cuddled.
Yes, you equated certain sounds with certain results.
You were essentially playing life by ear using English (or whatever your language).
It works much the same way with music. Just as your brain made distinctions in sound when it came to speech, it also has the capacity to make distinctions in sound with musical pitches, intervals (melodic and harmonic), patterns, scales, modes, chords, chord progressions and a whole lot more. It’s just that you’re using another language. However, learning this language just may be a lot easier than you think.
Earlier we mentioned that, when you listened as an infant, you didn’t judge. You didn’t think about it. More relevant, you didn’t think about whether you could repeat what you heard or not. Later, as you were taught to doubt yourself, certain achievements started becoming more difficult. So, if your brain is entertaining any idea, even remotely, that playing piano by ear is something you are not able to do, just know that you are simply subscribing to a belief system that doesn’t have much value.
The key is to approach playing music by ear in a practical, realistic manner. If you have never attempted to play music before and you would like to be able to play a Beethoven concerto on the piano after one listening, how practical is that? However, if you want to learn how to make sound distinctions, are willing to take it step by step, and are able to commit to having fun during the process, there is a whole lot you can accomplish. Yes, you can indeed impress yourself.
In addition, having the right person to coach you as you enjoy the journey can be priceless. The right teacher can guide you in ways that you likely would not have otherwise considered. You can be alerted to what sound distinctions to listen for. Also, you will be encouraged to repeat them and your confidence with doing so will increase. Remember, as you learned during those early years, you said a certain thing, you achieved a certain result. That’s how it works with music.
Is it easier for a youngster than for an adult? Reflecting on what was said earlier, a youngster has learned to say “I can’t” a whole lot less often than the average adult. Even if some doubt gets in the way, the youngster hasn’t completely convinced himself or herself that it isn’t possible. So, in that sense, it can be easier for a youngster. But… and it’s a big BUT… the right teacher who understands what it really takes to play music by ear and who has a clue about human nature can indeed lead an older individual toward realizing some very fantastic results.
So, how about you? Have you been interested in exploring your personal musical potential? If you haven’t admitted it to anyone, have you secretly harbored the idea of giving yourself the opportunity without taking action?
You can. It starts by taking one simple action: say “YES” to yourself. Decide that you are going to give yourself a certain amount of time to investigate what you are actually capable of. Once you establish a minimal time frame (6 months to a year, for example), make a commit to yourself that you won’t turn back… that you won’t cheat yourself of the chance to see the process through to see just what you can accomplish during that time frame. Then make a connection with an instructor who is qualified to help you along this musical journey of yours.
For now, put those doubts on hold. If you must have them, then just know that there is someone out there who just might have more belief in you than you do, at least at this point in the game. By the way, when you start to experience some of those results for yourself, it really does feel a bit like magic.
The ball’s in your court.
The stage is yours…
Posted in: Adult Piano Lessons, Choosing A Piano Teacher, Play Piano By Ear, Starting Piano Lessons | Tags: adult piano lessons, adult piano students, ear training, learn piano, learning piano, piano instuctor Sarasota, piano lessons for adults, piano lessons Sarasota, play piano by ear, playing piano by ear