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How To Play Songs On The Piano By Ear

Lisa Witt - Nov 30, 2018


Learning to play the songs that you love by ear is an amazing skill to have and one that can be developed! Here are some tips to help you get started


1) Identify the chord progression


You can spend time figuring out the chord structure of the song you want to learn on your own OR you can utilize google to help you find a chord chart. This will help you to know the chord structure of the song right away. A great first step is to play basic chords and sing along to get a feel for the song.


2) Pick out the melody


The great news is that the melody will land within the notes of the chord. For example, if your first chord is a G, chances are that the first melody note will be one of the notes of the G chord. As the chords change so will the most likely melody notes so that they align with the notes of the chord. This isn’t always true, but it can sure help you narrow it down!


3) Know the song well enough to sing it


Don’t worry, you don’t have to have a good singing voice to do this. Singing the song will help you to connect to the melody which will in turn help you to know if you are playing wrong notes. If you can hear it you can sing it and if you can sing it you can play it! Singing will also help you to connect with the rhythm so that you don’t have to guess about how to count it out!


4) You don’t need to play every single melody note


Play most of them or some of them because in the cases of familiar songs, your listener will assume the melody. If there are spots where you omit a melody note or play a harmony note or chord that is OK! This will give you artistic license and allow you to make the song your own.


5) Don’t be afraid of making mistakes


This is a skill that takes time to develop. When I first started to develop this skill I played MOSTLY wrong notes. This is totally okay!  Every wrong note will lead you toward the right note! Cheesy but true!. So have a sense of humor and curiosity as you attempt to pick out the melody of your song.


What song are you going to start with?


Comment below!

#Piano Chords

#Chord Progressions

#Play Piano Chords


#Ear Training

Hi, I'm Lisa Witt

Lisa has taught in a variety of settings from beginners just getting started to recording artists preparing their songs for the road. While her background is classical, she loves helping students play the music they love by ear and is excited to be a part of YOUR journey.