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Topic: anyone learn by ear?  (Read 1985 times)

Offline macman1288

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anyone learn by ear?
on: May 25, 2004, 12:24:46 AM
hi, im fifteen and i have been playing piano for seven years. i got too impatiant with reading, so i basically asked my teacher not to teach me, but to teach me songs by ear. now, i have a new teacher for the past 2 years, and i regret this. i currently play fantasie impromptu, sonata pathitique, ragtime, some other songs and im currently learning rachmaninoff piano concerto no.3 ..unfortunately i have leanred this by ear which makes it difficult to have a large rep of songs. has anyone learned how to read really fast just by teaching themselves? or do you just need to be patient?

Offline monk

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Re: anyone learn by ear?
Reply #1 on: May 25, 2004, 01:46:16 AM



And don't call them "songs", please. That's layman's terminology. Piano pieces are called PIECES. Songs are pieces who are sung.

Have your teacher show you how to read music. It's really simple, but you have to be SERIOUS and HONEST. That means: Begin with very simple pieces and sight-read them. And always ensure that you are really reading the notes and not playing from memory! Look up one note, play it, then look up the next note, play it...Never try to fake. Bear in mind that the assignment is not to play the piece right (that is no problem for you, we all know) but to really read notes. And do it every day.

The students of mine who are not good in reading are always those who try to fake. If I ask them "Show me on the paper the last note you played!", they often don't know or guess wildly. Simply don't be one of those people! Then you will learn to read.

Best Wishes,

Offline faulty_damper

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Re: anyone learn by ear?
Reply #2 on: May 25, 2004, 02:28:40 AM
First of all:
1.  Everyone around hear calls them songs.

Second of all:
2.  I'm sure "song" is just short for "song without words".

3.  Only get pissy with non-musician players who use the word "song". ;)


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Re: anyone learn by ear?
Reply #3 on: May 25, 2004, 02:35:39 AM
I call them songs all the time! :D But what do I care? It holds no bearing over my musical abilities, and I hate it when people act like it does!  >:(

Offline Derek

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Re: anyone learn by ear?
Reply #4 on: May 25, 2004, 06:32:44 AM
I'd reccomend Lorina Havill's "You Can Sight Read."  

Its slow going for me to get better at reading, since I don't like to do so very much, but I'm definitely much better now than at the beginning of the semester, when I could barely read a Bach Invention without having to count up staff lines to figure out the notes.

I learned to play by ear, but I didn't learn music by other people by ear...I just make up stuff...in all sorts of ancient styles.  nobody gives a damn about it though, but hey its incredibly fun so I don't care.

sonata pathetique and fantasy impromptu kicks ass. I'm learning pathetique right now and coincidentally I have also been teaching myself fantasy impromptu.  slow going---but its worth it


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Re: anyone learn by ear?
Reply #5 on: May 25, 2004, 08:08:46 AM
Hi MacMan, and welcome to the forum. Your question is interesting for me, because I grew up with lessons and learned by reading music the whole time. However years later when attending a church, I heard a woman play better than I have ever heard in my life...and she never had a lesson. I guess she basically could read the top note by then, but with all her chording and runs, she literally was all over the keyboard. Whereas I was say...reading a whole note and holding 4 counts, she would use that "holding" time to do a "Bass, chord, chord type thing or run or anything....it was amazing. I was so impressed with how she could make everything sound really difficult and "filled-in", as opposed to my playing of classical by reading exactly as written. And yes, while I wanted to play like her, she wanted to play like me. Anyway, I spent much of my time for the next several years learning from her how to play by ear, and learning the "normal" chord progression to "most" pieces/songs, and how to accompany someone whos singing, without music, just by knowing the key. I returned to playing nothing but classical, and couldn't believe how strange it was, and difficult somewhat to play reading exactly what was written. I think it is much more difficult to "READ" music, than to play by ear as you have to do what is written, not just wing it with how you feel. However before learning to play without music, I thought the reverse.

I don't think there is necessarily a "FAST" way to learn to read music. It's like anything else....the more you practice and become familiar with the notes on the keyboard in relationship to their location on the staff the easier it will be. Kind of like tieing your shoe. Probably when you first learned how to do this you had to look at what your hands were doing in order to make sure you were doing it properly, but after a while, you could tie your shoes with your eyes shut....and even better example would be typing. At first you have to practicing learning where the keys are, memorizing home row (asdf jkl;), and it's hard not to look at the keyboard....but after typing the word "and" or "the" enough times.....you don't even have to look and your typing speed increases. It's exactly the same with reading music. The more you you do it, the more you feel comfortable with it and it just becomes second nature.....your fingers/hands just kinda know where to go, its automatic.

You mentioned that you became "too impatient" reading music before. I think it's important to ask yourself WHY you became impatient. Was it taking too long? Were you bored with what you were playing? Did you have difficulty understanding what was being taught each week? Were you bored because you were moving at a pace which did not allow you to progress quickly enough (losing interest)? I think if you can recognize WHY you became impatient, you can possibly take steps to ensure that not happening now. Say for instance you were having difficulty understanding the material as it was being taught, by explaining that to your teacher they may be able to try a different teaching technique that may work better for you. If you were practicing with songs you couldn't stand playing, (Mary had a Little lamb) and were 14 years old...that's understandable.

Other than than, I don't feel there is a "magic" way to learn how to read music. But the more you practice, the easier it definately becomes. I don't know anyone who can play the Rach 3 by ear!!!! I have to admit I'm jealous.....think I'd have enough trouble even with the music :)

Don't give up, it does take time and patience...but it does come, and gets easier all the time. I wish you best of luck!

S :)

Offline edouard

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Re: anyone learn by ear?
Reply #6 on: May 25, 2004, 03:52:30 PM
hi there,
i thought that my sight reading was not up to scratch so i just played through several books. one hour a day over the summer (wouldnt find time to do it whilst preparing for recitals or etc...). but i took pieces to gradual difficulty so
(1) some beginners Russian method gatherin dust in my cupboard
(2) Bach's inventions, synfonies etc small pieces
(3) Haydn's Sonatas

also make sure that at all times you are anticipating what is on the page not lagging behind

you must practise reading every day for a certain time otherwise youll make little progress

cheers ,

Offline RGPianoMusic

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Re: anyone learn by ear?
Reply #7 on: May 26, 2004, 08:19:38 AM
These are all great suggestions.  try to site-read something every day and stick to pieces that are within your range.  It takes years to develop good site-reading abilities but it does come.  I have been playing since age 3.  it took me til age 11 to learn how to site-read better.  I learned by ear as well and to this day, I still rely a lot on my ear. However, due to my practicing, I can site-read at a virtuoso level so I have the best of both worlds.  You can too.  It's all about consistancy!


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