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"playing by ear" (Read 2513 times)

Offline scottfrock

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"playing by ear"
« on: March 26, 2013, 04:49:00 PM »

I am new to  the foreum & I am looking for some suggestions/comments. I have a  Chinese student who I feel is very talented. His Mom says about him :  "oh, he's not good at reading  the notes." Sh told  me when he 1st started w/me that when he has a new piece, he goes to u-tube to hear it. One of my teaching techniques  is to have students (when they are 1st learning  a piece) to say the notes out loud & to count out loud. I ask him to do this & , no response,  he stares straight ahead. I ask himto try counting out loud, again response, he stares straight ahead. I continue to point to the notes or to the passage, saying  "say the notes" or "count this out loud", nothing stares straight ahead. The goes on for 10 minutes  or more - complete stalemate. He plays pretty well, but after having an  assignment for a week, he will invariably come back & play it incorrectly, especially incorrect rhytyhm. I am not sure if I  should tell the Mom, "if he wants to continiue to study w/ me, he will have to count out loud." The Mom also told me they switched to me because the previous  teacher   was not 100% able to sight-read his pieces for him.  What I want to say to her is, "well why do you need a teacher ?? , just have him find pieces he likes, & go & buy the CD or go listen to it on u-tube."   I have  seen that the NCTM renewal requirements have "ability to teach aural learners." I do not want to lose this 4th grade  Chinese student, any suggestions ???

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

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Re: "playing by ear"
«Reply #1 on: March 26, 2013, 06:04:57 PM »
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No amount of how-to information is going to work if you have the wrong mindset, the wrong guiding philosophies. Avoid losers like the plague, and gather with and learn from winners only.

Offline piano1mn

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Re: "playing by ear"
«Reply #2 on: June 16, 2013, 10:03:21 PM »
Counting is so boring for me and my sister. We sightread. Maybe he knows how to read music. He just doesn't speak

Offline karenvcruz

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Re: "playing by ear"
«Reply #3 on: August 13, 2013, 02:51:51 PM »
Hi scottfrock

I am a similar case when I was a child. as early as three years, I played simple pieces by ear so my mom made me take lessons.  My teachers were mostly traditional so I was ao forced to learn to read notes and play pieces which never really enchanted me.  When my teacher wasn't around, I contnued to play by ear until now.

However, there was a difference when I reached elementary years in school.  I brought some pieces I liked and my teacher taught me to play following the notes, particularly modern music.  There was a problem, though. I would get bored with the notes so I tended to embellish.  When it came to classical music, I had to really force myself to comply. 

In my case, I was impatient to learn the hard disciplined way, which may be what is happeningto your pupil.  He probably believes he can do a better job if he used his own approach which is not the schooled approach you would like him to imbibe.

Perhaps, i need to tell you something that eventually helped me change a bit.  When I was twelve years old, my teacher made me watch concerts and listen to pianists play certain types of music which would catch my attention.  Gershwin was one of the composers she exposed me to and because I became so fascinated, I opted to study Rhapsody in Blue, the original solo version, which even to my own surprise, I volunteered to laboriously and diligently study.  From then on, I took reading notes more seriously.  Now that I am much older, although I still play by ear, I now discipline myself to study my pieces meticulously.

Perhaps, counting may not be the technique that would inspire the kid to read notes and get the right tempo.  Chances are, he may have his own tempo in his head and believes that's the innovation in the piece he wants to make.  In one of our music schools here,they have two types of teachers - one who encourages kids to learn playing by ear first so that they can play the pieces they like, and the other is the one who teaches kids to read notes. What I observed is that eventually, the kids who initially learned to play pieces by ear eventually became more mature and opted to challenge themselves to read notes so that they could play pieces that were more classical and difficult.  The teachers needed to be patient though, since these kids need to just eventually find it in themselves to learn music another way.

I do hope you won't give up on the child ... my teachers didn't give up on me, but I was idiotic enough to give up on them because I felt they didn't understand.  Now, looking back, I realize they were right and I am so glad I still remember their exercises and words and wisdom ... and guess what, I'm going back to them now, studying like an obsessed fanatic to catch up for the years I lost.  I'm not regretting though ... because now I can proudly say, I can play by ear AND I can sight read well read notes.

I wish you good luck.

Offline fleetfingers

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Re: "playing by ear"
«Reply #4 on: August 16, 2013, 05:50:21 PM »
Have you considered the possibility that he (A) is too shy to speak or that he (B) doesn't know how to count notes?

Maybe have him clap along while you count. See if he will do that.

This is not going to be his strength, so do not spend too much time on it. A little bit each lesson will go a long way and eventually start to sink in and affect other areas of his playing.