How To Play Piano By Ear: A First Step

Learning How To Play Piano By Ear

Child is listening to musicThe process of learning how to play piano by ear is an ongoing journey that opens doors to a whole new dimension of musical understanding. Are you capable of it? You bet you are. Don’t believe it?

You don’t have to believe that it’s possible. Why? Because the proof is in the pudding and once you get a tiny glimpse of success with using your musical ears, your belief will manifest automatically. Have you ever been amazed by a youngster who can do this well? It’s because that little one hasn’t yet learned that it cannot be done!

The Myth Of Playing Music By Ear

There is one major obstacle that often prevents people from enjoying success with playing piano by ear( this applies to any instrument, by the way). At one time or another, a person witnesses another individual pulling off the major stunt of squeezing a song out of those piano keys without any music whatsoever. To the uninitiated, this can seem like magic.

It’s not magic. Rather, a person who can play by ear is simply in touch with hearing certain sound distinctions that others may not be – yet. Anyone can start recognizing these “distinctions” by simply being receptive to them.

Sound Distinctions? Huh?

Yes. You are capable of discerning the difference between certain types of sounds. For example, let’s say that someone was to put you to the test by telling you that, with your eyes closed, either a sports car or an 18-wheel dump truck was about to drive by your house, would you be able to tell which one it was just by listening? Of course you could. But why? Because you’ve had a past reference that taught you how noisy one of the trucks can be.

See? You familiarized yourself in the past with a sound that you can recognize today. You heard it enough times where that recognition is instant.

That is the key to learning how to play piano by ear. You familiarize yourself with certain sounds to the point where this recognition is instant for you. If someone was to start playing “Jingle Bells” on the piano without telling you what song it is, what are your chances of recognizing it? Pretty darn good, right? That’s enough proof that you have the tools to play piano by ear. To get competent with playing music by ear, you just need to nurture the process.

Playing Piano By Ear Is Not Difficult

Here’s some good news. Playing music by ear is not a painstaking thing to learn to do. Rather, it’s a lot easier than that. The more fun you let it be for you, the easier it gets. It works the other way around, too… the easier it gets, the more fun it becomes!

Play “Jingle Bells” Right Now By Ear

Let’s just play a tiny segment of this song. Go to your piano or keyboard and choose one key to play. It doesn’t matter which one. Got it? Okay. Press that key down three times and hold it down the third time. Go ahead.

Did you hear “Jingle Bells?” Well, now… it seems that you have made a connection between a sound (part of the song) you’ve heard before and what you are playing. Chances are that you’ve heard that song so many times, it’s no effort to recognize it, right?

Okay, now you know that part of the song can be played simply by playing the same key three times. Do it… choose another key and repeat what you did a moment ago. Ahh! Success! Use another key… more success! (You are actually playing the song in different keys!)

You’re playing by ear! You might be inclined to not give yourself a whole lot of credit for what you just did but you would be underestimating an ability that you possess (really!).

A Secret To Playing Piano By Ear

Okay, this is something you just have to know. Ready? Playing music by ear well involves your being willing to have a lot of fun making lots and lots of mistakes.

Read that again a few times because 1) It’s true and 2) That truth is going to be a best friend of yours.

Here’s a little game I would like you to have some fun with. Go to your piano or keyboard and play a few keys arbitrarily. Do it again with different keys. Repeat the process dozens of times. As you do, just allow your ears to hear. As you do this, does anything you’re playing remind you of a tiny piece of something you’ve heard in the past? If not, keep at it because it will happen.

As you perform this exercise, have no concern about playing anything correctly. Just play and allow your ears to hear what you are playing. Don’t try hard at this. Have no concern about “being right” about anything. Just allow yourself the freedom to play and hear.

It Will Get More And More Interesting

There’s a whole lot more you will learn on this interesting journey and we’ll be covering more of it. Meanwhile, appreciate what you are doing now, keep a smile on your face, and allow your ears to do what they were designed to do… HEAR!


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