Play Without Written Music- Part 2

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Last week we discussed the skill (that you already possess) which makes learning songs by ear, faster and easier. This post will dig into some details to help get you going.

This is not just a list of good ideas, but techniques that have been used by pros for a long time. This will set you on the right track.

Step 1- Choose

We all know that when we are motivated, we are more likely to succeed. Since there is an array of music available, choose something that excites you. You want to wake up in the morning and think, “I can’t wait to work on my song today. I’m going to sound so good!” And you will sound good.

Be sure to avoid a possible motivation killer. If you choose something that excites you, but is too difficult, you may end up losing hope. You may even think that learning by ear is too difficult for you. Remember, if you can speak a language, you can learn to play by ear. Just choose something simple (but fun) for your first song, and your motivation and confidence will continue to climb.

Step 2- Listen

What’s easier to do?

  • Sing a song on the radio that you already know, or…
  • Sing a song that you’ve only heard a few times?

This is the same concept with learning by ear. If you can sing (or hum) the part you want to learn by ear, you’ll learn much faster with less of a possibility of frustration.

So, if you can’t already sing along with the part you want to learn, then listen to that song multiple times each day. You can also sing it on the way to work or school.

Oh, and by the way, if people look at you strangely for signing in the car, or while walking down the street, you’re in good company. Musicians do things like that all the time; for some of us, creating music is more important than looking cool while walking down the street 😉

Step 3- Copy

This is the part that can be the most challenging and the most rewarding. In this step, we want to copy everything we hear:

  1. Notes
  2. Rhythms
  3. Articulation
  4. Dynamics
  5. Style

This may sound like a lot to do, but here are two tips to keep you from being overwhelmed:

  • Choose music that is not too difficult
  • Learn the notes and rhythms first, not all 5 points at once

You can understand (with 5 points to think about) why we want to start with a song that is simple (because there’s much more than notes to learn). If you only apply 1-2, you’ll sound good, but, if you apply 1-5, you’ll end up sounding like the recording.

Play Without Written Music

Honestly, when writing these posts I sometimes feel like I’m in the classroom. We get into a subject and the bell rings; class is over. However, this is okay for today because I have a challenge for you:

  • Challenge A: In the next 7 days, choose a song that you can learn to play (See Step 1)
  • Challenge B: Listen and sing the melody daily (See Step 2)

After you’ve met these two challenges, you can begin learning the notes and rhythms. There’s still much to share with you (we’ll share more in our next post), but definitely feel free to learn the notes and rhythms of the song you choose. Also, if you become a little frustrated during the process, just take a break and this will help set things right.

I would love to hear what song you decided to learn. Please share your song choice in the comment section below. This may provide ideas for other people too. I look forward to your post.

In addition, if you know someone who could benefit from this post, feel free to share it using the buttons bellow. Thanks for helping to get the word out!


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