Three years ago I purchased a 300 page course book with cd called “The Secrets To Playing By Ear!” The author of the book, Jermaine Griggs, is the founder of HearandPlay.com. I joined his website embarking on a wonderful journey to learn how to play by ear.
Jermaine’s theory is: “If you can hear it, you can play it.” So, if you can hear the melody in your head, you can play it on your instrument. Coming from a background of reading notes, I would say that playing by ear is difficult at first, unless you were blessed with a special gift like Stevie Wonder! It takes practice to hear the melody of a song, determine it’s key center and know what chords to play in your left hand. I have hunted and pecked out Happy Birthday for hours. Now, I have a road map, a guide if you will to learn how to play by ear!
Hear are 4 steps to learning how to play a song by ear!
- Determining the melody – Melodies determine what chords will be played. If you can use your ear to figure out what notes are being played in the melody, you are on your way to learning a song!
- Harmonizing the melody – Once you have figured out the melody , it is time to harmonize it. This is simply choosing various chords to accompany the melody. There are several techniques and tricks to doing this.
- Altering Chords – This is the best part! Now that you have strategically figured out the melody to a song and have harmonized it, altering your chords to produce certain sounds is the next step. If you were playing gospel music, you would alter your chords differently than if you were playing classical or country music.
- Listening – After you have determined the melody, harmonized the melody, and altered some of your chords, there are various techniques you can use to make sure that your song sounds right.
Also, both the book and the 300 pg course teach you the basics of playing songs by ear, first by determining the melody, then harmonizing the melody w/ chords (Harmonization Scale), and then adding the bass and altering chords. Once you learn your basic Harmonization Scale, you would be surprised how fast you would be taking a melody and turning it into a song. Also, the great thing about the DVD is it comes w/ a free e-book that you can print out. It has notes from stuff taught in the DVD, as well as the Harmonization Scale illustrated in every key. Like Jermaine says, if you learn the scale in 2 keys a week, in 6 weeks you can be playing in all 12 keys.
I highly recommend the Course Book because you will be able to learn songs faster and easier. You will understand why chords are played at certain points in songs. Using the ability of your ear to recognize melodies, chords, and progressions, takes lots of practice, but soon you’ll be on your way to playing more songs without sheet music. Get your copy of this awesome course today!