Being able to play the piano is a
useful skill. Being able to play anything you hear on the piano is even cooler.
Unfortunately, many people feel that playing the piano is nothing more than a
pipe dream. Most people don't have the time or inclination to take lessons, and
feel they may never be able to learn to play music.
Well fortunately, this doesn't have to be the case. It is very possible to pick
up the piano by ear, i.e. to learn the piano by listening to the sounds it
produces, and how they relate to your favorite songs.
Learning to play the piano by ear does require a certain musical aptitude, and
indeed not everyone will be naturally able to learn this way (translation: you
may have to start the old fashioned way with lessons). If you want to start, the
first thing you should be thinking about is gaining access to a piano or
keyboard. You are never going to learn an instrument without being able to play
and practice – you can practice in your mind all you want but without a physical
instrument it won't matter all that much. Ask friends and family, see if you can
book a music room at the local school, or pop into your local music store to
pick up an instrument. A keyboard might be best to start with, as a portable
miniature version of the larger piano which can allow you to pick up fingering
technique, and allow you to practice other generally applicable techniques. And
they're far cheaper than a big ol' piano to boot.
Once you've got access to a piano (or a reasonable facsimile thereof). Try a
song you like that sounds to you as if it may be easy to play. Start by fooling
around with the keys in the middle of the keyboard, and try to play the main
tune of the song you're trying to learn. Try to play with the correcting timing,
singing along to keep yourself right if necessary. After that, add a hand down
at the bottom, or to the left of the keyboard. Try pressing one note that
corresponds complimentarily to the tune you are playing. This will form the
basis of a chord, and add the necessary harmony to your melody to produce a more
Learning to play the piano by ear is a step by step process. Remember to walk
before you run, and take it very gradually to progress to playing more songs,
adding different parts and working out chords. Eventually, you will begin to
spot patterns, and adapt your playing techniques to accommodate your style. In
no time at all, you will be able to play songs, and have the necessary skills to
work out how to play others.
I'll admit this is a pretty quick 'n dirty way to explain how to play piano by
ear, if you'd like to learn more about how to do it, then I'd recommend checking
out this pretty darn nifty course…
Piano By Pattern