Monday, February 23, 2009

Play Music by Ear

I've always marvelled at anyone who could play a musical instrument, especially those who play without sheet music. My youngest neice can hear a piece of music and then play it on the piano or her clarinet. Amazing. I used to have one of those electric organs that you could punch in a number and it would play the song or you could program some background tones and then you play the song. I did finally learn how to play several songs but it was only because the keys were numbered/lettered to match the songbook. Sad, I know.

I read an article by Nick Yingling about how to improve your musical knowledge at This is the web home for a Free Online Ear Training program. Numerous resources are made available to help you learn how to play music by ear - starting out at a beginner level with simple melodies. The program teaches intervals and the basic concept is learning the distance between notes. Watching the beginning tutorial on how to use the program is a must to learn how to use it. Then with practice, it became easier and made sense.

The Pictorial Guide is very helpful; explaining how to move through the 12 intervals. Some of the options are:
  1. Limiting the number of questions.
  2. Playing the notes in a different order
  3. Creating your own songs
There is an option to use keystrokes for those who feel a bit slowed-down by the mouse and you can use game controller software to connect the keys to a gamepad or joystick.

Music teachers and their students would enjoy this program. It would be another way for them to practice and learn music when not in class. For more options, check out the 10+ sites and programs listed on their site for more online ear training.

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