So you want to learn to play piano by ear? Ahhh the joy of being able to sit at that piano or keyboard and produce something you've heard at your very own fingertips!
Are you capable of playing by ear? What do you think? Has it occurred to you that this is an ability reserved only for a select group of individuals?
Perish the thought! I mean it. If, at any point in time (past or present), you have subscribed to the thought that only a "certain special type" of person has this ability, I ask you to get rid of that false idea right now. Why? Because it's simply not true.
Let me explain a little further...
Playing by ear involves your brain recognition of "distinctions" in sound. As it stands right now, you already have this ability. Picture this scenario: I'm with you right now and am asking you to close your eyes. Next, I am telling you that I am going to drop a glass pitcher on the floor, which will shatter all over the place... AND that I was going to ring a bell. BUT I wasn't going to tell you which of the two actions I was going to take first.
What is your confidence level regarding being able to tell the difference?
I'm guessing that your confidence level is pretty high, yes?
I thought so.
Well, I would like you to engage that feeling of confidence for a few minutes and remember it. Because I'm here to tell you right now that there is NO reason why you shouldn't feel just as confident when it comes to creating musical distinctions.
You might be thinking, "Well, sure, anybody can tell the difference between the sound of a glass pitcher crashing on the floor and a bell ringing!"
Although it's true that the contrast between the two sounds is quite extravagant, that's not the point. You see, the fact that your brain can distinguish between two sounds that you've heard before is all the proof you need to know right now that you have the ability to play music by ear.
You've heard glass shatter at some point before (whether in your own presence or on television or other) and you've heard a bell of some kind, right? Well that's where your confidence comes in. You know you can distinguish between the two.
With music, your brain makes distinctions in the same way. All you need to do is to become aware of these distinctions! As you learn to play piano by ear, you'll realize for yourself that this is so.
As an example, a major chord has a certain "sound quality" to it... so does a minor chord. Once you've really become aware of the "sound quality" of each, then you know you can tell the difference. It works this way with chords, melody, chord progressions, etc. As you learn to play piano by ear, you will become more and more aware of these qualities.
One of the first things you can start doing for yourself is to experience this for yourself as it applies to chords.
Play a C Major chord on the piano. Then play a C minor chord.
Listen to each.
C Major = C E G
C minor = C Eb G
What do you notice? How would you describe the difference? An important thing to keep in mind here is that whatever your answer is, it is correct for you. You may think of certain adjectives when playing these chords... or you might imagine
certain colors. Some people will say that one of these chords sounds "happier" than the other... and the other has a "sad" or "sentimental" sound.
Since you truly want to learn to play piano by ear, I think it's important for you to treat yourself to this process on a regular basis. As a start, it would serve as a great foundation if you would make a commitment to learning the four basic triads (three-note chords)... major, minor, augmented, and diminished. If you want a really easy way to develop quick confidence with playing all of these, please consider Piano Chords 101.
It's a tiny investment and one that will set you in positive direction with getting a handle on these four basic chord qualities. Also, you can download both the video and guidebook instantly.
Experience the difference between a major and minor... between a minor and augmented... between a minor and diminished, etc. As you have more and more fun with this, your eyes (more importantly, your EARS) will start to open! Yes, you will learn to play piano by ear. Actually, you already are!
PLAY WITH PASSION!