There are many musicians out there who believe that the best method of learning to play any instrument is by listening to the music and playing it by ear. Coincidentally, majority of these musicians also believe that music theory is unnecessary as it limits playing. Unfortunately, they fail to understand that music theory isn’t just a set of rules about how to compose and play music.
Learning to play the piano by ear is an extremely helpful and essential skill to have. However, it is important to take note that playing by ear and learning the theory works hand in hand and it isn’t an either-or choice. Below are some of the pros and cons of learning to play the piano by ear.
Pros of Learning to Play by Ear
Firstly, you can generate new ideas and develop better techniques when you learn to play by ear. With new ideas and improved techniques, you will be able to put them to good use in various ways.
Secondly, learning to play by ear will allow you to master a piece quicker compared to going through the theory. This means that once you listen to a song on the radio, you will be able to get the keys right and play the song out in no time!
Thirdly, playing by ear helps to cultivate and simulate your creativity. As you start playing music by ear, you will also start to develop an interest in creating your own music. This will induce you to explore new directions in your music. Thus, your creativity will be put to the test as you try to compose your own piece.
Cons of Learning to Play by Ear
Firstly, when you learn to play by ear, what you are actually doing is duplicating what you heard and reproducing it. Hence, many famous musicians view this skill as an imitation to others’ music.
Secondly, learning to play by ear teaches you really good technique and how to play the music of others, but it doesn’t help you to combine different techniques and explore new options. This means that if you learn various genres and techniques, it will only help in developing a set of range allowing you to sound slightly different from the original. However, there are still those rare exceptions where one learns by ear and still manages to produce a piece of music that sounds fresh and original.
Thirdly, a beginner without any form of training might simply learn songs by ear wrongly, choose the wrong notes or pick up wrong techniques. They might not even realise it and even carry on with the impression that they are on the right track, when actually they are wasting their time and not learning anything correctly.
At the end of the day, there are advantages and disadvantages when you decide to learn to play the piano by ear. The best option would be to have prior theory knowledge, so that you will be able to incorporate that when you play by ear. This will ensure that you are learning things correctly and also help you to improve yourself as a pianist. If you’re keen to learn more about how to combine theory with playing the piano by ear, then sign up with Awesome Piano Lessons today!