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Thread: How to play a song by ear?

  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Choirguy View Post
    I’m curious as to what you are trying to do....play chords, play the melody, or play chord melody or a tablature type chord and melody of a song?

    There is a natural challenge in that many songs are written by guitarists and are in less friendly keys for ukulele (like E, which is an awesome open string key for guitar). So if you are playing chords by ear, you may find yourself using a lot of barre chords and moveable chords.
    That explains it. So far in just month of playing with my church band, I've noticed that many of the songs are in the key of E. Not so easy on a uke, but it's forcing me to learn new things.
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  2. #12
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    For me it was repetition and PRACTICE, lots of it, but my inception of these habits were over 30 yrs ago.

    I've had music lessons since I was about 8 yrs old so lots of this stuff has been ingrained and hard for me to explain.

    Back in the old days, I'd put on the radio and just noodle along to whatever song was playing (with my guitar). Of course, I'm no savant, so lots of the noodling was rubbish, but over time I was able to play along with what I heard.

    A few yrs later, I really wanted to learn 'Message In A Bottle' by The Police, but my guitar teacher refused (idiot! how DARE he deny me!) saying it was 'too complicated'. So adamant in proving him wrong, I recorded the song from the vinyl to a 90 min cassette tape, over and over on both sides, yes 90 mins of 'Message In A Bottle' - it was glorious...

    After about a week of 2 hrs per day, I was able to get the whole song, note for note, by ear.

    I showed my parents, some friends, and were amazed. Next lesson, I showed my guitar teacher. He was amazed but also angry because I had not only leapfrogged his lessons, but had taught myself m9, Add9 and 13th chords, which he seemed not to be prepared to understand, but 3 yrs of piano and music theory I was already well acquainted.

    After that session, I ended my lessons with that teacher.

    Moral of the story, there is lots of merit to knowing music theory, but you have to develop your own EAR, by training it, and this takes repetition, practice and time.

    Nowadays, 30+ yrs later I can still play 'Message In A Bottle' note-for-note on piano, guitar, bass, ukulele and 5ths-tuned instruments, but with a baritone vocal range, I will never canary like Sting, so that dream will never be..../sigh/
    Just the FAQs __________Less > more.__________Serenity now, insanity later.

  3. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Uke Don View Post
    Here's a review of Jim's course. I attended his workshop years ago as a beginner, and he confused me badly, but now I feel I could gain a lot from it.

    http://ukulelehunt.com/2009/11/25/ji...by-ear-review/
    "Those who bring sunshine and laughter to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves".

    Music washes from the soul, the dust of everyday living.

  4. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Booli View Post
    For me it was repetition and PRACTICE, lots of it, but my inception of these habits were over 30 yrs ago.

    I've had music lessons since I was about 8 yrs old so lots of this stuff has been ingrained and hard for me to explain.

    Back in the old days, I'd put on the radio and just noodle along to whatever song was playing (with my guitar). Of course, I'm no savant, so lots of the noodling was rubbish, but over time I was able to play along with what I heard.

    A few yrs later, I really wanted to learn 'Message In A Bottle' by The Police, but my guitar teacher refused (idiot! how DARE he deny me!) saying it was 'too complicated'. So adamant in proving him wrong, I recorded the song from the vinyl to a 90 min cassette tape, over and over on both sides, yes 90 mins of 'Message In A Bottle' - it was glorious...

    After about a week of 2 hrs per day, I was able to get the whole song, note for note, by ear.

    I showed my parents, some friends, and were amazed. Next lesson, I showed my guitar teacher. He was amazed but also angry because I had not only leapfrogged his lessons, but had taught myself m9, Add9 and 13th chords, which he seemed not to be prepared to understand, but 3 yrs of piano and music theory I was already well acquainted.

    After that session, I ended my lessons with that teacher.

    Moral of the story, there is lots of merit to knowing music theory, but you have to develop your own EAR, by training it, and this takes repetition, practice and time.

    Nowadays, 30+ yrs later I can still play 'Message In A Bottle' note-for-note on piano, guitar, bass, ukulele and 5ths-tuned instruments, but with a baritone vocal range, I will never canary like Sting, so that dream will never be..../sigh/
    I wonder why I hear so many stories about guitar instructors being jerks? If I had a student, I would love to have her jump ahead successfully!
    "Those who bring sunshine and laughter to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves".

    Music washes from the soul, the dust of everyday living.

  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Booli View Post
    A few yrs later, I really wanted to learn 'Message In A Bottle' by The Police, but my guitar teacher refused (idiot! how DARE he deny me!) saying it was 'too complicated'...He was amazed but also angry because I had not only leapfrogged his lessons, but had taught myself m9, Add9 and 13th chords, which he seemed not to be prepared to understand, but 3 yrs of piano and music theory I was already well acquainted.
    I try to not be that teacher. We all fail as teachers...but hopefully in different ways. I’m all for challenging a student that cannot do something to do it...and if the personality is right, to actually tell them they can’t so they will. I do this regularly with my five year old and it always works. He gets great joy in coming back to me and saying, “See...I can do it.”

    But the getting angry about learning more and leapfrogging lessons is the sign of a lazy teacher. If the leapfrogging surpasses the teacher’s ability, I can see a teacher responding that it might be time to move to a new teacher. There is great strength in a teacher who knows they have taught you all they can and that it is time for you to have a new voice.

    And related to all this, I watched a YouTube video about the Concorde the other day, and who was prominent in the video? Sting.

    This whole world is connected one way or another.

    Chris
    Playing ukulele since January 2016.

    Have you participated in the thread, "How the Ukulele Found You?" If not, please consider adding your story--they are just fun to read.

    http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/...lele-found-you

  6. #16
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    I took one of Jim D'Ville's Play By Ear sessions, and it reinforced what I had already been doing.

    I can't read music (or follow tab)- but with a guitar or piano, I can pick out the notes on the strings; I will never have the rhythm, unless I know the melody. (Oddly enough, while I can look at a page of sheet music, and know what string/key on guitar/piano corresponds with which note, I still can't do that with a ukulele, sfter 6 years of playing...)

    For me, that's the key. If I know the melody, I can play it. Maybe not well, but I can play it, and improve, and then I start noodling around with chords until I start to get it.

    Many times when I'm sitting with a group, and they play something I'm not familiar with, I'll just start noodling on a single string, until I get a note that fits. Then I try and find another, and another, and pretty soon, I've got a few chords figured out, and I can play along. Sometimes, I suddenly realize I know the song, and others I'm still clueless. Once I get the first note/chord, however, I usually try and apply the I IV V rules, then devolve into my bastardization of the circle of fifths, and just go with the flow, playing whatever I hear in my head.

    While I do not use one, I would suggest getting a capo, especially if most of the things your church group plays is in E.

    Good luck! Watch a lot of videos, and try to play along with them. It helps.

    -Kurt
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  7. #17
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    Pretty much the only way to become proficient at playing any instrument by ear is to become obsessed with the endeavor for a matter of years or decades.

    You must practice your technique, study your theory, and apply those lessons to endless noodling around until you slowly find yourself noodling with greater purpose and direction.

    When you make a discovery in your noodling, study how it fits into your theoretical understanding of things, and then incorporate it into your practice plan until you have internalized it. In this way your discovery will become accessible to you in your future noodles.

    I don't know of any other way to describe the process, but I will say this: the guidance of a good instructor can be an enormous boon, especially to one without a pre-existing understanding of musical theory.

  8. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Choirguy View Post
    I try to not be that teacher. But the getting angry about learning more and leapfrogging lessons is the sign of a lazy teacher. If the leapfrogging surpasses the teacher’s ability, I can see a teacher responding that it might be time to move to a new teacher. There is great strength in a teacher who knows they have taught you all they can and that it is time for you to have a new voice.
    Chris
    I love it when I see a student that was one of my beginners later playing chords and singing in open mic like a pro. I don't care if they do it better than I! It just means they worked better and harder.


    You also printed....
    This whole world is connected one way or another.

    Yep, we are all one, absolutely. I've begun studying A Course In Miracles, which bears that out. I feel most "at one" when I'm out in Nature, alone, in the quiet away from the city.
    "Those who bring sunshine and laughter to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves".

    Music washes from the soul, the dust of everyday living.

  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nickie View Post
    I love it when I see a student that was one of my beginners later playing chords and singing in open mic like a pro. I don't care if they do it better than I! It just means they worked better and harder.


    You also printed....
    This whole world is connected one way or another.

    Yep, we are all one, absolutely. I've begun studying A Course In Miracles, which bears that out. I feel most "at one" when I'm out in Nature, alone, in the quiet away from the city.
    It's a compliment to have a student who shines. Isn't that the best kind of teacher? If you don't have a student who exceeds you, you kinda suck as a teacher or you just pick up mediocre students tbh.
    My current stable:

    Romero Creations Tiny Tenor Spruce & Rosewood
    Hanknn Koa Concert
    Burks Spruce Soprano
    (bootleg) aNueNue pineapple Concert

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