I said I wouldn't offer a sale but – with this virus and everyone practicing social distancing and having to work at home here is a deal: Forever Site Access Memberhip for $149 Get It Today! Normally $179. BONUS for Supporing LearningUkulele.com and Curt • All FOREVER members will receive a FREE one-hour private lesson. Email Curt to schedule your FREE lesson.

News

Ukulele

Lessons

Series

Songs

Books

Videos

Search

Access

About

Playing by Ear - The Ultimate Goal

The ultimate goal for any musician when playing a musical instrument.

PUBLISHED: Jul 21, 2011 • UPDATED: Oct 8, 2015 • LESSON CODE: UL06 • VISITS: 37

ukulele Subjects: intermediatebeginnerintervalstheorytransposing

Sign-In to access this download if you are already have full site access or Sign-up for a Premium Site Access , — Or your can purchase a copy for download.

Each PDF file is a formatted high resolution file that prints out great. You'll need Adobe Reader or a PDF viewing application to view your PDF file.

Playing by Ear - The Ultimate Goal

Playing by ear is the ultimate goal for any musician when playing a musical instrument. It's true whether you're singing, banging a drum, strumming a guitar, or our favorite instrument, the ukulele.

If your fingers can already interpret and follow what your inner ear commands, you’ve obtained your goal and are playing by ear. However, the fact is that it's actually very uncommon for individuals to be able to "play by ear" with no apparent effort.

If you are like most people new or relatively new to learning to play an instrument, you need a plan to train your fingers to follow your ear melodically, harmonically, and rhythmically. This comes from an understanding of the music principles that drive music and lead the ear to direct the fingers so that then, and only then, can you start on the road to Playing by Ear.

Whether performing or practicing, music involves three elements: your mind, your hands, and your ear. When performing music, your ear directs your hands. And if all goes well, your mind is not involved and only gets involved when things don’t go as planned. Getting to this performance goal, whether it’s simply performing for your own enjoyment or on stage takes work and an organized approach to developing an "ear-hand-mind" connection so all will work together.

Common wisdom states that it takes 10,000 hours to master any skill. This is essentially true - it does take hours and hours of dedicated, quality practice and exploration. I've found this to be especially true when learning any musical instrument, even the ukulele, despite its reputation as an easy to learn instrument. Getting really good and getting comfortable in performance and learning to play by ear takes not mindless hours and hours, but an organized, dedicated, systematic approach with distant goals and building blocks to ensure that you reach that ultimate goal.

The Internet is full of debate and examples of people who seem to be able to cheat at this without putting in the time. I regret to inform you that there is NO shortcut, and simply putting in the time alone is also not always enough. A lot of people put in the time. So what makes someone more successful when learning a musical instrument than another? Or, more importantly, how can you set yourself up for success?

Tips for Success

Here you go - my tips for success:

Get a coach, advisor or teacher - and not just any coach. Whether you have a coach, advisor, teacher, guide, guru or whatever you call them, they must be successful with a proven track record of helping others obtain their goals - not simply good players. Finding the right coach can take work, trial, and error. Some look to performers of their chosen instrument to become their teachers. This can be good place to start, but not all performers make good teachers. However, they probably had a good teacher. It's sort of like getting past the Academy award-winning actor and finding their most significant teacher - the behind-the-scenes person who played an invaluable role in the actor's success. Early in my development, I found Chuck Anderson. So hopefully you're be as lucky as I was to find a great teacher, coach, or mentor early in your development.

Practice Deliberately - have distinct goals and a plan for each session. Monitor your success, practice specific skills and problem areas, and constantly strive for improvement. If your practice sounds good, you're probably not really practicing but may simply be repeating something you can already do. Work instead on what you really need to improve: work on what you can’t do, or want to do better.

Teach Others - we learn by doing, and learn more and learn better when we teach others what we know. There is nothing like presenting what you know to others to truly understand it yourself. In all my years of teaching, I've found this to be extremely beneficial in my own musical development.

The Mind, the Ear, and the Hand - each one of these needs training, with specific steps to obtain the playing by ear goal. The ear needs to recognize the intervals, chords and rhythm that make up the melody, harmony, and rhythm of a song. But for all of the training needed for the mind and ear, it's largely up to the hands when playing an instrument, that is, they need the most training to successfully execute what the ear wants. So, make a plan, set your goals, find a good teacher, and practice, practice practice!

"Playing by Ear" vs. "Learning by Ear"

Don't get "Playing by Ear" and "Learning by Ear" mixed up. It's hit and miss to try and learn by ear. You need to train your ear and brain to understand what is going on in order to play by ear. Understanding the principles of how music works will go a long way on your ability to play by ear.

Start with training your ear to identify (hear) and sing melodic intervals.

End of Lesson - Thanks, Hope You Enjoyed It!

Download the lesson's PDF file for the latest, complete and most up-to-date version of the lesson. As well as additional information not presented on-line.

Members and Active Students need to sign-in
to download the premium lesson PDFs for the complete lesson.

Related Lessons

Related Lessons for Playing by Ear - The Ultimate Goal at this time.

top

Understanding Diatonic Intervals • Updated: Dec 9, 2011

Ear Training • Updated: Oct 21, 2017

Ear Training is the development of the active and passive capability to relate to music aurally.

The Chromatic Scale • Updated: Nov 26, 2018

The only scale containing ALL 12 notes available withing in one octave.

The Major Scale • Updated: Feb 11, 2016

The most important scale in ALL of music.

Key Signatures and the Circle of Fifths and Fourths • Updated: Nov 18, 2019

The magical, mysterious, and mystical Cycle of Fifths.

Playing by Ear - Melodies • Updated: Jun 11, 2019

We already know a lot of melodies. Just need to train our fingers and hands to get them out.

Playing by Ear - Chords • Updated: Oct 6, 2016

Recognize the sound of chords and chord progressions and be able to play these chords and chord progressions.

Playing by Ear - Rhythm • Updated: Jun 18, 2016

Playing rhythm by ear is all about getting your ear to recognize rhythms.

Related Books

Related Books for Playing by Ear - The Ultimate Goal at this time.

top

Daily Practice Material for the Contemporary Ukulele
Updated: Nov 20, 2019

An organized collection of daily practice and reference material for the contemporary ukulele player.

Learning the Ukulele Fingerboard - C Tuning
Updated: Apr 19, 2017

Finally, learn the names of the notes of the fingerboard. - C tuning

Learning the Ukulele Fingerboard - D Tuning
Updated: Sep 23, 2009

Finally, learn the names of the notes of the fingerboard - D tuning.

Learning the Ukulele Fingerboard - G Tuning
Updated: Aug 23, 2009

Finally, learn the names of the notes of the fingerboard - G tuning.

Harmonic Analysis for Scale Selection and Chord Substitution
Updated: Feb 7, 2019

Harmonic Analysis is the understanding of the functional sequence of chords.

Modular Phonetic Rhythm, The Foundation and Workbook 1
Updated: Nov 9, 2015

Modular Phonetic Rhythm represents a significant advance in the teaching and application of rhythm.

A Guide to Blues Chord Progressions for Ukulele A to Z
Updated: Jun 15, 2006

26 blues progression in C and G tuning, progressing from basic to advanced jazz progression, with chord grids and substitutions

Exploring Jazz Chords on Ukulele
Updated: Nov 24, 2009

Using a variety of common chord progressions based on songs from the standard jazz repertoire.

Related Songs

Related Songs for Playing by Ear - The Ultimate Goal at this time.

top

Any Song Will Do
Updated: Dec 7, 2015

When any song here can be used for the concepts in the lessons.

Related Lesson Series

Related Lessons Series for Playing by Ear - The Ultimate Goal at this time.

top

Playing by Ear
Updated: Apr 6, 2020

Learning to play by ear is the ultimate goal when learning any musicial instrument. This series of lessons is designed to get you to that goal. Whether it's melodies or chords, it can be done.

Harmonic Analysis for Scale and Chord Selection
Updated: Apr 6, 2020

Harmonic Analysis is the process used to determine the harmonic function of chords within a chord progression or song. A chord progression is defined as a sequence of chords, each chord has a root and is a particular chord type. The relationship of a chord's to a scale determines its function within that scale's tonality.

Understanding Intervals
Updated: Apr 6, 2020

An interval is the distance between two notes. An interval has a name and a type. Intervals can be played one note (melodic) or two notes (harmonic) at a time, ascending or descending.

Related Lesson Files, Resources and Assets

Related Assets for Playing by Ear - The Ultimate Goal at this time.

top

Key Signatures - Cycle of Fourths and Fifths
Updated: Oct 14, 2019

Site Access Plans for LearningUkulele.com

Forever Access - With Forever Premium Access you get Unlimited 24/7 access to ALL lessons, downloads, songs, play-along jam tracks, videos, email access to Curt, resources and related assets. As well as ALL books by Curt as FREE downloads. Pretty much everything on the site and NEVER worry about a subscription or surprise payment again. And jump the queue for my responding to any questions.

Premium Access - This premium gives you Unlimited 24/7 access to ALL lessons, downloads, songs, play-along jam tracks, videos, email access to Curt, resources and related assets. As well as ALL books by Curt Sheller as FREE downloads.

Basic Access - A limited selection of basic lessons — ( currently over 140 ) and 100+ songs for ukulele as well as basic general music reference material — Completely FREE — Simply Register/Signup. HOWEVER - I've been doing ukulele and LearningUkulele.com since 2003 and probably have given too much away already - as reflected in my income from the site in relationship to the time spent on the site. So help support this site and its continued development by signing up for one of the below Premium Access Plans or buy a few of my books. - Thanks, Curt

NOTE: Each higher access level includes ALL the benefits of the lower levels. Private Lessons include all the benefits of a Premium Access Plans as long as you remain a student on on the schedule.

Just browsing over both books, they look fantastic! I'm a guitarist and uke player for over 25 years and was thinking about writing a ukulele book but you've already written what I think are the best, most comprehensive and thorough books I've ever seen for the instrument. I just might end up buying every book you've written and I'll be giving my highest recommendation for your books to my friends and students. Thank you so much for taking the time to write such great books!Peter Rhee

Aloha, Curt, All I can say is WOW! What you have accomplished is simply incredible! All the bestGlen Hirabayashi, The Aloha Boys

Folks, if you haven't stopped by Curt's site, do so right now! ..And get his books, they are fantastic. This guy knows his stuff and is able to pass it along too.Alan Johnson Proprietor, The 4th Peg

I can highly recommend Curt's Uke books — I have four of them and they are excellent.fatveg — Portland

Thanks for visiting and checking out the site!

curtieAnim.gif

Original Curtie Animation from 1987 for my first web site on a Macintosh II.
33 years ago.

“Built for myself (Curt), and sharing with the `Ukulele community!”

LearningUkulele.com has one of the largest collections of lessons, songs, and TABS, luthiers, ukulele builders, ukulele festival and club information, and, ukulele links on the web. I’ve been on the ®Internet since the early 1990's and This site just never stops growing!!!

Content is added and updated almost daily - so check back often.