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How to Play Music by Ear

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Discover How to Play by Ear!

M. Emett Wilson was a Professor of Instrumental Music at Ohio State University.

Listening to music is fun; playing music is more fun; playing music by ear is the most fun of all.

If the player remembers the music he is playing by means of his ear, he is playing by ear. But most players who have learned to play by the traditional method of reading notes on a page and then punching keys on an instrument do not trust to their ears to tell them what is coming next.

Instead, they remember the notes by name or by their chord name, or they have a visual memory of how the notes look on the page, or they use some other nonmusical system of recall.

Naturally this turns their attention from the sound of the music and encourages the habit of watching keenly the mechanics of playing with almost total disregard for the music itself.

People who play by ear are generally considered to be especially talented. This is entirely a fiction. They do not play by ear because they are talented; rather they are talented because they play by ear. They use their ears in determining what is correct to play, and this constant activity develops their ability to manipulate musical sounds.

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