life, music

How I learned to play the piano by ear

I was fifteen, I loved the sound of the piano so much that, anytime I heard the pianist at church play, I’d start moving my fingers on the edge of the seat in front of me while I sing passionately (I don’t have a good voice tho lol). When I say piano, I mean the electronic musical keyboard that has several voices. I loved the sound of the piano most 🙂

After church I’d usually go and start playing the piano but the pianist will quickly sack me and the other kids and put off the piano. I was so passionate about playing the keyboard I decided to ask the pianist to teach me. He asked me to come for choir rehearsals every Saturday which I did, but he still didn’t teach me anything. He’ll mostly say he doesn’t know much about playing the piano so I should ask some other guy. (That guy is paid every Sunday to come and play, teach the choir and teach the instrumentalists).

I was just being tossed here and there because they didn’t have the time to teach. But I kept pushing till the pianist (the one who claims to be a newbie) decided to start teaching me.

He started teaching me key F. I was so happy I’d always go to him and ask him to teach me. I kept chasing him but he was quite reluctant. At a point I realized I had to give him some motivation because, even though he was teaching me for free, it wasn’t something he enjoyed. That was when my dad came into the scene. He would drive me to his place sometimes, give him some money and be nice to him.

All this while, I was just learning Do-Re-Mi-Fa-So-La-Ti-Dooh! and then the triads (three note chords) for that. I didn’t have the ear to understand the sounds coming from each note. I didn’t have perfect pitch nor relative pitch. I didn’t even know about it.

Then it happened… my dad got me a keyboard (piano) ! I was so excited. The pianist started teaching me at home and giving me exercises each time he came. I’d practice and practice with so much happiness.

Then I prayed… God please give me the ear to understand music… That was my prayer. The pianist came to my house about 3-4 times and that was it. I’d gotten the basics so now I was by his side at church every Saturday, Sunday and some weekdays too, watching and learning.

Then at a point, I started having this discomfort within me anytime I hit a wrong note. I’d try learning a simple song … say Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Stars and anytime I hit a wrong note I’ll feel some kinda discomfort. That was when I realized I’d developed relative-pitch. I could learn the sofas of simple songs on my own! That was the beginning of it all!

I realized God had given me a gift, I realized I’d started a great journey. Till date I haven’t stopped learning, I’m still a learner tho I’ve improved greatly and can play with ease in all 12 keys. I am still learning and improving as the days go by.

How to do it by yourself

  • Believe it or not, music is a gift. No matter how you look at it, its source is not from humans, its from God. Just say a little prayer each time you sit behind the piano, then practice.
  • There are so many videos available online. Just practice. Hum the notes as you hit them, sing in your head each time you play something you learnt. Soon, your ears will get used to the sound of the ones you play the most. (Especially Do Fa and So).
  • Music is like a language, learning by ear is like learning a language by staying with the natives. The more you listen to music, and try to focus on the sound and feeling, the more your ears will evolve.
  • Practice often, practice regularly, take your time. Don’t be discouraged by what others can play. Be encouraged to do your best.

In summary, two things… Practice, seek divine help. You can learn to read music and still not have the ability to play by ear. It’s a gift, ask for it. God bless!



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