Definition & Play By Ear™'s Role

What exactly is Play By Ear and how can it enhance our lives?

Basically, the Play By Ear™ gives the student a broad foundation on General Musicianship covering things NOT taught in the normal instrument mastery classes people generally go for.

The person, such as a Lounge Pianist, is regarded as a Play By Ear musician because he draws on his overall experience & exposure from his years in the music industry that makes him have the ability to make music up impromptu (well, almost – depending on how experienced he is) as he goes along. The phrase “Play By Ear” normally means “Make decisions along the way”. In the music world, “Playing Music By Ear” refers to the “Art of Making Music”. It means being able to construct/make music on your own, especially in your own style, with little or no reliance on notation to guide you.

More and more people and institutions are realizing that it is a VERY IMPORTANT aspect of learning music. It is also found that 95% of people have the talent to “Play By Ear” in various degrees (Dr Tim Spectre of the Twin Research Centre, St Thomas Hospital, London). Our estimate is that only a lucky 5% got it by trial and error. For the rest, most of them NEVER knew they had that ability despite all their many years spent in mastering their instrument (e.g. 9 years in Piano Certification). They could have acquired that skill quite easily. There are also some who have achieved some ability but are unsure about the correctness of their implementation. They mostly have a smattering of vague concepts here and there. That’s where we can help.

Learning to play the piano, guitar, violin, etc. is normally a mastery exercise – i.e. You master the techniques to play the instrument well but you are not taught how to be creative with music. So that is why the student need to take a separate course (i.e. Play By Ear Method) in order to understand the concept of making music.

To this aim, the Play By Ear™ Method endeavours to help this remainder 95% of talented people like you to get going in the fastest time possible instead of taking years through the conventional way or even longer by trial and error.

We don’t teach you to be technically perfect. That is the job of the  piano mastery teachers. We teach students to understand what making music is about; how to use your being to decide how to mold the music; how to use harmonies and how to improvise on your intended song. So don’t worry too much about your finger dexterity. It’s a mind & understanding kind of thing. Knowing this is more EMPOWERING than just being techically perfect! It’s a totally different paradigm shift and for some, it may be hard to comprehend but that’s how great musicians are what they are! 

In twenty weeks... I've learnt how to play my own songs! Make them up... find the chords and play. It's very easy to do. My mother says I'm a ten-year-old talent.

[Ong Mei Yen (10) Malacca]