VIDEO 2 (of 4) | Overcoming Obstacles julianbradley Which of the 9 barriers has been preventing your ear from developing the most? a_tired_dude Excellent follow up video, Julian. (Are we allowed to share these with non premium members?) I’m a member of your premium course (full disclosure). In terms of your defined barriers–probably #6… wanting to use complex music to train my ear. However, when doing these ear training exercises, I tend to get too wrapped up in trying to produce a full cover (melody, harmony, chords, bassline, ornaments, overdubs, etc). (You mentioned this in the video). Probably focusing on melody or bass line or just a portion (like an A section of a tune) would be best. Because these types of covers I try to do have been complicated, it’s been too much to remember and I’ve used paper… and when thinking of doing more sometimes my brain complains, “ugh… too hard.” So I just don’t do as many. “Concentrating on too many things” might be my true barrier. There’s another aspect too–sometimes the music you hear isn’t very straightforward. Sometimes the singer doesn’t articulate the notes clearly… or the melody is kind of jumbled, or played by an instrument that is difficult to clearly deduce a melody or bassline from. For instance, a song could have several things going on at once, and it’s difficult to know what the melody really is. Maybe in a song like Prince’s 1999… you hear three different people singing at once, but who’s singing the melody? (Just one example) Anyway… over complication is probably my barrier. Thanks again! Pacco Thanks Julian — video 2 on ear training was helpful especially the point about working without your instrument — thanks again — bob KiWi Some distractions I’ve had are using complex songs, transcribing at the keys. Number 4 was a big one also, i thought because i didn’t read, i play by ear. Big misconception. MT Mals I have always picked up melody and can whistle tunes. Recently I bought several harmonicas, one a key of C Diatonic. Searching for the right root note and thinking about the correct chord gives me thinking-distraction. julianbradley Thank you Kiwi for being so honest and sharing this – I’m really pleased you were able to spot these. In video 3 I’ll be talking you through my thought process while transcribing some real songs by ear, and I’ll demonstrate them at the piano – so you’ll really get the hang of practicing transcribing the right way – with NO barriers julianbradley My pleasure Bob – thank you so much for the comment and I’m glad the transcribing away from your instrument stuck with you. Honestly – 90% of my music practice is done away from my instrument (both transcribing daily, and a few brain exercises like the ‘interval arithmetic’ I covered in my recent youtube video). Thank you for sharing! Julian dfl3tch3r I’m really bad at this…Can’t even recognise the tonic if more than one octave apart. So for me two octaves = 14 notes and so on! Marc Blandel Hi Julian, I try to answer in a short “style” 8- earing in too many keys so différents songs from so différents universe jazz pop funk .. – Sorry I Don’t understand What’should really mean transcribing away my piano (too bad!) I’m sure the answer will follow … :) Thank again Marc Никита Рябов This is great, I can’t wait for the next video. I think my greatest obsticle is I always tryied to transcribe bass lines, as I am a bassist. And of cource I tried to transcribe some fancy lines like Jamiroquai and Incognito etc. Sometimes I spent too much time just to hear the line as the bass is not the loudest and most recognizable instrument in the most of the tunes. Another problem is even simple melodies are not in the key of C, and rearly start with the root, so it took some effort to find the root, then to define all the sharps and flats for the key. KiWi I think it means to transcribe in your head. Try to work out the intervals, progressions etc mentally first, instead of hacking away at the keys in a trial and error fashion. That way you give your brain via your ears the opportunity become more acute to recognizing the various movements. julianbradley Don’t worry DFL – I was the same when I started, no talent at it, and had no idea where to start. But I’ve got you – in the next 2 videos I’ll be at the piano and we’ll do 45 minutes of transcribing by ear. I’ll walk you through everything and show you a lot of short cuts. Stay tuned! julianbradley Tired Dude! This is an amazing comment – you make some great points. First – getting wrapped up in the arrangement side of things, rather than just the transcribing part: I tend to start my transcribing simply – I’ll play the melody as it is, and for the chords I just play a root + 5th voicing to begin with (no 3rd). So for C major I’ll just play C + G in the left hand, or A minor I’ll play A + E. I tend to sit at the piano and just start playing the song by ear – but only because I’ve already done 99% of the ear training work, which has been done away from my instrument, thinking. But the first time I play the song through, I’ll start simply. And once I’ve played a section through simply (maybe the first verse and chorus) THEN I’ll start making the arrangement more interesting. I might change the voicings, or arpeggiate the chords and experiment in varying the rhythms. So as I play the song on loop, each round gets more and more complex and experimental – and when you do that, it sounds good to the listener. Start simple – and vary it more and more with each repeat. And second – I know exactly what you mean – some music works better for transcribing / playing covers than others. That’s largely why I added the recommended listening section below each lesson in the course – all of the songs I embed there should be pretty clear cut and work well when transcribed. But you’re right – some songs by artists like Prince, or other songs where the harmony is a bit muddy and undecided (like the song ‘Purple Rain’ for example) – these can be tricky to play on the piano – partly because with the piano you can’t bend notes. Some singers sing in-between notes – like the blue note – which is a quarter tone between the minor scale’s 5th and b5th – so you can’t really play this note on the piano. So you’re right – that is something to be aware of. Sometimes if I ask if anyone has a song they want me to play – half of the requests just wouldn’t work that well – so I say ‘any other songs you like?’. It’s not because I can’t play the song – but just that it won’t lend itself that well to being played on the piano. One song that springs to mind is ‘Sexy Back’ by Justin Timberlake – it’s mostly electronic effects, it has no chord progression, and the pitches in the vocal line are not clear (they’re just a descending half talking type of sound – but not a normal melody that is being sung) – so this song wouldn’t work well if I played it by ear at the piano. And finally – absolutely – you can share these videos with anyone. If this free series is popular, I think I’m going to make it ‘compulsory viewing’ before people enroll in the course – because I cover all the prerequisites to the course in these 4 videos – all the mindset stuff and understating of what relative pitch is, etc. So yes – you can certainly share these. Thank you so much for your great comment and the points you raise. Do my answers make sense? Julian Krzysztof My problem with transcribing is the assumption that I won’t be able to do it. It’s too complicated. When I try to listen to a song, that thought keeps me away from concentrating on bits that make up the music. I guess this is just a wrong attitude. dfl3tch3r Cheers Julian, looking forward to #3 Paul Moore For me, the biggest barrier is wanting to do everything at the piano. I’d never really thought about trying to transcribe away from my instrument, and I’m really interested to see how that works. I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep everything in my head like I’ll need to, though! You mentioned not transcribing in lots of different keys. What’s a good key to use? Is sticking to C, and just using the white notes on the piano, a problem? (I guess that as the process is all about relative pitches, it shouldn’t be, but I feel much more comfortable in C, and I don’t know if I’m limiting myself by not branching out). David Gerwig Another great video! #8 and #9 are enormous for me! After watching this morning, I worked out “O Little Town Of Bethlehem” totally in my head and when I went to the keyboard I had only gotten 1 note wrong. This is HUGE! In the past I would have, as Kiwi says below, “hacked away” on the keys or my sax and, I would have never started with such a simple song – my brain/ego says “you are WAY beyond that song” – well, clearly not. Also, thinking of all the songs in the same key is a great idea. Much easier to spot patterns, as you say. I’m loving’ it! KiWi His recommendation in sticking with on key is an interesting one. Right now I’m stuck playing everything in C, so I always transpose, and I think it hurts a player’s development and versatility. However his reason for recommending it t quite valid ; so that the progressions can easily identified, especially when being recycled so often from piece to piece. So the question is is there a balance that must be achieved or is their supplemental exercises necessary to be versed across all keys. Ryan Really great video thank you. I’m a guitarist and I’ve been trying to figure out the best way of learning to play by ear. I like the concept of practicing away from my instrument. Amanda Huber wooooow so much good information! I have been wanting badly to learn to play by ear but it always became a frustrating daunting task. My first serious attempt at learning to play by ear was when I took a level 1 jazz class in college. We studied the circle of fifths, intervals, chord progressions and my head was spinning. I can’t help but laugh at myself because I did ALL 9 of your suggestions to avoid. 1) I had no idea what playing by ear actually meant – it seemed like people just magically new what notes to play and improvising seemed like playing random notes and trail and error to find which ones sounded good. 2) I locked myself up in a practice room, blocked out the windows, and sat with my flute in hand, a piano, and played the jazz music in the background and frustratingly tried to figure out what notes they were playing. 3) I did actually look on the computer for apps or software to help me out, The Amazing Slow Downer was helpful in figuring out songs note by note but it took a very long time 4) As I said with number one, I assumed improvising was just trial and error 5) Isolating chords and interval. To transcribe my selected jazz solos I would listen to it over and over and over and try to fiure out each note by listening for intervals. I still don’t really understand chord progressions :/ 6) HAH! My first attempt at transcribing a solo by ear was John Coltrane’s Blue Train solo. I had never learned by ear before so I figured it couldn’t be too hard and my instructor even let me try it as my first ever attempt. I realized it was hopless and switched to a Miles David’s solo but yeah… So not the right level of music for newbie me You get the idea. So this video series is mind blowing for me and reignites my desire to learn by ear if in fact I have been doing it wrong all this time. It is also very frustrating when one learns to read sheet music right away and learns to master site reading 8 years later and then realizing reading sheet music does nothing to help the ear training or brain training. Its too easy to search the internet and find the transcriptions, a cheat sheet. Anyway, now to watch the second half of the video! Thank you so much for these videos. I am teaching myself to play by ear with the Tin Whistle which I find is a hell of a lot easier than on the piano or concert flute for me since the tin whistle is built in one key. Do you think learning on a diatonic instrument is beneficial or not any different than learning on any other instrument? Especially considering learning by ear happens mostly away from the instrument. julianbradley Thank you Ryan – practicing away from your instrument is a big one – in fact about 90% of my practice is done when I’m not at my instrument. It’s mostly transcribing every single day (it just happens these days, it’s a habit) as well as a few other mental exercises – like interval arithmetic (jumping around the keyboard in my mind by every possible interval). I hope you’ll enjoy videos 3 and 4 which will be entirely practical and at the piano – we’ll transcribe several famous songs by ear, and I’ll walk you through the intervals, the pentatonic shape, and the chords too. Neil Ingle I think that you should work with a number of keys, in order to understand the chords and patterns. However, Julian’s main point was that you should not try to play in the original key of the song, but instead pick a key that you’re familiar with and have transcribed other songs with, and then you can more easily compare groups of songs and identify patterns. Neil Ingle Great video Julian. My ex piano teacher would be mortified! It’s all about sight-reading from sheet music right? Wrong! As far back as I can remember, I’ve always ‘listened’ to music – wondering why a chord arrangement ‘gets me’. Only in recent years have I tried to find out (coinciding with purchasing an electric piano). Last year I transcribed Enya’s ‘Watermark’, including notating it onto sheet music in the key of the original. However, I now find I’ve broken one of your rules! (playing by ear is not about sitting at the piano listening to the music and finding the notes by trial and error). And thinking about it, I can play that song, and love to do so – but actually, I don’t really know what I’m playing! (re: the chords, the intervals, why certain combinations create a mood, and how it compares to other songs through common patterns). I will take on board your advice, and ‘just listen’. Thank you for helping us to appreciate that playing piano is about the mind as well as technique. Harry Smith Very enlightening. I’ve been accompanying singers performing for older audiences for several years and have had to continue to come up with “new” old songs in different keys. I have written out binders of hundreds of songs – some came from sheet music but I transcribed them to the singer’s key, some I worked out at the piano, note by note, chord by chord as you describe so well in your video. I hear the similarities but working in so many different keys has always left me feeling like I’m not getting something fundamental about what I’m writing down. I have read how great musicians, like Duke Ellington, would compose while riding on the train, essentially away from any instrument and figured this was a mark of genius. Maybe not. Thanks for the inspiration and corrections. Chib Mba Thanks Julian for the video. I actually gave up learning by ear but will go back and reconsider… My barriers to learning by ear are: 1) I tried transcribing whole songs with my guitar and also managed to write the notations down too. I was fatigued by the end of it and gave up with learning by ear. 2) I also tried transcribing songs in different keys instead of one key 3)I am not sure sometimes of what I am actually hearing, there seems to be a conflict b/w my “inner” ear(singing internally) and what I am actually hearing. This causes a lot of frustration I will give it a go again with all your tips . Thanks once again julianbradley Chib! Thank you for sharing this. I think that your first two barriers (transcribing entire songs + transcribing in different keys) are the main obstacles to ear training. To me – the thought of transcribing an entire song, and writing everything down, and throwing in every different key – would drain my energy and I’d probably give up too. So just make it really simple – the next time you hear music playing somewhere (today), just spend a couple of minutes thinking about what you hear. Choose a small section of the melody (maybe 4 – 8 bars max), and just come up with a theory. Don’t write anything down – just wait until you’re back at your instrument and test it out. That’s all you have to do – it shouldn’t be draining your energy – it should be almost effortless. And if that works – then try to do this once a day for the next week. Just spend 2 – 3 minutes a day, working on a very small section of a melody, or a single riff. And in video 3 I’ll be showing you the technical stuff at the piano, discussing how harmony works, etc. Thank you so much for your honest comment, and I hope the next videos inspire you to start again, with a different approach. Julian julianbradley Hi Harry, thank you so much for your comment. I’m so pleased you’ve already had experience transcribing tunes without relying on sheet music. It’s not the end of the world if you do it the trial and error way – it’s better than nothing, and I’ve sometimes done it that way. But I notice that the times I REALLY improve my ear are when I don’t have my instrument, I’m in a waiting room or somewhere, and I think through various theories until I end up with one or two ‘most likely options’. And then I test them later, at my instrument. And to be clear – it won’t always be like this. Just while training your ear, it’s important to transcribe away. But when you get good, you’ll be able to do it at your instrument, and you’ll be able to transcribe instantly, in real time. Some people hear my ‘listen – think – check’ and think that this means they’ll never be able to have ‘instant touch’ and transcribe while playing. That’s not the case – by doing the thinking practice, you’ll get quicker and quicker, and will be able to transcribe in real time. And regarding Duke Ellington – you’re right – most composers compose a great deal when they’re away from their instrument. They are able to transcribe their own imagination. I compose this way too – at least most of my initial ideas come when I’m away from the instrument. I can hear the notes, the chords, etc – and at some point I’ll want to play it, and I might develop it further at the instrument. Thank you so much for sharing, in the next video I’ll show you the technical harmony / thinking process I use at the piano. Julian william ducsak My biggest “barriers” in practicing piano and ear training are my daily life duties. My family and job take precedence over of my life. Basically, time. But, that said, I actually can find time periods as you suggest on a regular basis such as driving in my car, to listen in my head and then try my thoughts on the piano when I get home. Thank you for the instruction. My biggest take away from your video is getting the sound proven advice from a professional… Practicing in my mind away from the piano is something I do on occasion but I didn’t think of it as the true and preferred way to do it. Coming from you, I feel confident that I should do this often and that it is something I should keep on doing. Thank you. Stefan Great video! My biggest barrier are the different keys. a_tired_dude I have a bit of a “sideways” or off-topic question for anyone here: What is the best way to hear the latest popular pop tunes? Do kids still listen to the radio? Is it Vevo? Spotify? The reason is: I’d like to become more hip to what’s popular (as a dude in his 40s). fredo I’m surprised you haven’t mentioned the ear training method using well known song lyrics ie minor 2nd I-left (my heart in), major 2nd Stran-gers (in the night, minor 3rd Geor-gia etc etc. I’ve identified 12 ascending and 12 descending intervals which I’m trying to use in my singing. My problem is recognising the musical interval notation on the songsheet. Do you recognise any value in pursuing this. Kim Particularly three of them stands out for me: Thinking I have to offer a lot of time at my instrument. Software. Thinking passing a test is what “playing by ear” means. oh and there’s one more think that has been a barrier for me (and still is). I only dare sing when I’m alone, so transcribing can be difficult when I’m not alone. Jane Terry What are you playing at 23:05? Just wonderful! Anyway, several barriers apply to me, but especially transcribing at the guitar. jaideejoe Biggest challenge for me is guessing at the tones through trial and error. No thought to the actual interval or relationship to the other tones. I’ll put a few seconds of music in a loop then try to get the right tone on the piano. Tom Harrison I hear music everywhere I go. This morning my espresso maker motor was keeping beat while I steamed the milk. What did I do? I whistled blues along with it. I go to the store and hear music overhead. I can sing along and make up harmonies without every having heard the song before. I went to a street fair recently and heard this great big-band-jazz group (JazzUnderground) and I could easily have gone to the stage, grabbed a mic and started singing along very impressively. But put me in front of my keyboard at home? I sound just like a first grader trying to read Shakespeare. Now, granted, I have been singing everyday of my life since I was 8 years old (now 57) and have only had a couple of years of piano. So, I’m trying to catch up on the piano playing and take what I keep hearing in my head and do the same on the piano. Any suggestions? I get pretty bored trying to pick out Jingle Bells when I could just turn on some Billie Holiday and sing another harmony:)) Alex Heaton So say I’m listening to a song. Think. Make my guess. Then do I “check” in the one key I’ve chosen? Is it bad to first quickly find the key of the song and check in that key? Because sometimes if I attempt to change the key, it’s harder to tell whether I’m correct or not. Thoughts? Loser Manifesto Hello Mr Bradley, This was a wonderful video that did highlight some of my faults, such as believing to know what playing by ear meant, and trying to find out a song with trial and error, not allowing my brain to process the information beforehand, therefore stopping me from learning anything! This video clarified so many questions I couldn’t answer and for that I am very grateful. Although I have a question regarding the transcribing method – I tend to find some free time to practice music and would like, instead of perfecting technique and practising chords, which can get uninteresting very quickly, to do some transcribing: hearing a song, thinking about the intervals used in a melody and then finally testing. Despite this being my idea, I did notice that you mentioned that all of the transcribing was mainly done away from the instrument, which makes me wonder if that implies that I should listen and theorise about a song and allow enough time before testing. Can I not do it after listening to a song and theorising for a couple minutes, bearing in mind that the key signature is irrelevant at this point, and try to figure out the melody and work my way from there? I have done that for the past days and noticed that some sort of interval map starts building in the brain, and these intervals are associated with parts of melodies of different songs. Or maybe it’s wishful thinking, regardless, Thank you very much for all the effort you put into this, I bet everyone can easily tell how much you love music! Best wishes Danilo RICHARD HELLO, THIS IS VERY INTERESTING,. I THINK I WAS USING ALL 9 BARRIERS WITHOUT EVEN KNOWING IT. I TRIED THE SOFTWARE BARRIER AND IT PUT A WALL UP MAKING ME THINK I COULD ONLY GET 85% OF THE ANSWERS RIGHT AND THAT I WOULD NEVER BE ABLE TO HEAR MUSIC BY EAR. I TRIED TRANSCRIBING POP MUSIC ON YOUTUBE AND FINDING SOME SONGS HAVE BEEN TRANSPOSED UP HALF AN INTERVAL FOR LEGAL PURPOSES, LEADING ME TO SEARCH FOR THE MOST ACCURATE ORIGINAL SONG FORM –ONLINE MUSIC. AND NOW YOU SAY IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT KEY THE ORIGINAL SONG IS PLAYED IN, I GET TO CHOOSE MY OWN FAVORITE KEY. YOU HAVE MY FULL ATTENTION. I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE YOUR NEXT VIDEOS. Ben Bec My take away is to use your time wisely, take advantage of spare moments to explore the notes. Russell Lechleiter Hi Jullian, I liked the fact that you recommend transcribing away from your instrument. Question. I purchased an accompaniment program for computer called Chord Pulse. It plays a backing tract that can be programmed by the user. I have used this by entering random diatonic chords, which the bass part will play the root of the chord, and play the bass line back while sitting at my keyboard. Do you not recommend this way? Russell Russell Lechleiter I would say sitting at my instrument. And learning in the musics original key. From now on, I will transcribe in one key only. A side point is a question. Windows Media Player has a function that allows you to slow down audio playback by %50. I have used this to transcribe for ear training, however, due to the reduced tempo, the musical sounds are a little distorted. Is this a bad thing? Thanks Russell Romans Feduns I think,the need of a real instruments.To train my ears (brain) i recorded every single note of the keyboard/piano on my mp3 player, with a vst, like C0,C1,C2,C3,C4 etc, C#0, C#1, C#2, etc (D,D#,E,F etc…) and i listen this notes every day.I did this after i forced myself to recognize the A note (diapason hz), so i can tune the guitar. Then i just listen 3 different notes and i try to remember what note is the one i’m listening.I told to my self, if i can recognize a colour i can do with notes. Do you think this i something good or should i stop. Anthony Hopkins Hi Julian, as always a thought provoking video, and very interesting thoughts on ear training. One concept that i don’t follow is ‘coming up with a theory’. Do you mean mentally transcribing the intervals, then testing them out at the piano? I think transcribing away from my instrument (piano) is my biggest barrier. Keep up the good work, I’m sure anyone who sticks with you will reap their rewards. Michelle Trial and error at my keyboard. Another obstacle for me is lack of awareness in that ear training is not really emphasized per my experience with traditional piano lessons. Ekow Bentsi-Enchill I’ve always thought that it is better to learn songs in their original keys so that I can gain prowess, experience and confidence in that particular key. From your video, I understand that it is easier and more beneficial to transcribe in the same key every time in order for me to be able to recognize and understand chord structures and patterns, because these concepts can be transposed to all the other keys. Antonio Carlos Muricy Hi Julian! I like your approach very much! But I play chromatic harmonica, in C, and I don’t have any keyboards at home, only my guitar, which I don’r master, but I have some basic knowledge of it, as I have some very basic knowledge of music theory. Do you think your course may apply also to me and to what I have? Thanks Tony Danvdb Hi Julian, great stuff here ! I tested myself doing your exercise : listen – think – check but actually I am doing sing – think – play. The “think” part takes me some time but in the end I find the correct notes in my mind and when I check it on the piano it is correct. The thing is that when I listen to music or sing, I don’t “think” in term of notes, I just listen or sing. The “think” part is not natural for me yet, in the future you think that this part will come quickly or even instantaneously ? Thank you for your videos, you are the teacher I needed ! Vinz Thanks for this very instructive and eye (ear?) opening videos. I’ve been playing trial and error music for nearly 20 years, guitar mostly, started learning my favorite songs by listening and playing on guitar, then playing in bands, on stage, my compositions, never learned to read music, barely know the shape of the base chords even if I play them all. I’ve composed with weird shaped chords a lot, with a jazz influence, bust mostly to play rock. I love and go to concert for all kind of music but am mostly interested in composing rock/pop with a jazz/experimental twist. Now I don’t know anything about music theory whatsoever. But I’ve been progressively playing piano (the same way, trial and error) for the past 5 years. Should I start with your training or do I need to learn some music theory and the chords ? Because when you talk about theorizing the music in my head when I listen to something, I don’t even know what to theorize on… Should I just imagine the visual sequence of keys on the piano starting the first note of whatever melody I’m trying to reproduce on the C key ? I’m a bit lost on how to start but what you said until now sounds great to me :) Thanks a lot ! Vincent Diego I’m really enjoying the videos, can’t wait to watch the third one. But there’s one thing I don’t understand: listening to a song and then trying to transcribe it by trial and error is not good for ear training, okay, but how different is that from listening to a song, thinking about theory and attempting to play the song? If you get it right, okay, it makes sense — you used your knowledge to reproduce what you’ve heard; but if you fail, wouldn’t you go back to the “trial and error” thing to correct yourself? At least that’s what I think I would do … maybe I’ll understand it once I’ve watched the third video because right now I’m confused on that, and very hesitant on attempting to transcribe music. John Ellis What are the musical keys? Like C major/minor/sharp/flat? Or A minor, or E major? Why are some chords three notes and some four? Santiago Garibotto What do you think about using early jazz at the beginning? Composers like Fats Waller or Clarence williams who have a lot of simple song. I love that kind of music and ifirst learn to follow the arpeggio-wise motions but now i’m falling a little short and I want to improve. Great videos so far, refreshing point of view! Sebastian Paicu I’m hearing music everyday on my daily routine such as work / school etc. And most of times I ignored the songs around me or the sounds, I focused on distractions, this can actually change the way my brain works, Great Video Julian and thanks! Angelo King First of all thanks for the lesson. I had hit bumps on my piano playing and stopped for nearly 3 years. I find that playing contemporary christian music from popular bands are easier to learn because they are diatonic and stay in the same key plus have less patterns. The pop music is something I never considered after this I will also explore it. Davide Morelli thank you for the enlightening approach you explain in your videos! For me as well the biggest barrier was always sitting at the piano when transcribing. I am not too sure about the idea of transcribing everything in a single key, I appreciate why (so you focus on common patterns), but I think it’s better to explore all key, to the point where I’d suggest to always transpose what you transcribe in all keys. Justin Dumois So do the “theories” consist of number sequences? Am I trying to think, “Okay, that’s a 1…that’s a 4….I think that’s a minor 3rd…There’s the 4 again…” What actually is supposed to be going on in my brain? Robo Only watched one and a half of the videos but wonder just how much piano playing knowledge is required to follow your ideas. Feeling a bit lost at the moment. Hopefully things will become clearer. Dylan Morrison Thank you so much for sharing your insight with us! My main barrier has mainly been that I focused too much on playing music rather than listening and recognizing. Also I studied advanced music theory before actually learning to listen and recognize simple melodies. Question: I’m a bit confused on what I’m “allowed” to do away from the instrument regarding your method. Am I allowed to hum the melody to help myself try and figure it out? Also, when I want to figure out what the starting note is relative to the tonic I usually just alter the melody to resolve to the tonic note with my humming, and then I listen to the interval between the starting note and tonic. Is that also allowed or is that cheating? Juan I’m not Julian, but you don’t need any piano knowledge to try playing a simple melody in it. All you need is to know the major scale (the old Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Ti Do), and know that the white keys of the piano represent these notes. Then take a simple bit of melody from a song that sounds simple (Twinkle Twinkle), sing it and think where those notes would fit in the major scale. If you don’t know what songs are simple just google “simple diatonic melodies” or something similar, you’ll find lists of easy songs. The piano only serves as a tool for you to check if what you thought is correct. You can also check it by singing the major scale yourself and trying to identify the note in it, but that’s a bit harder if you starting from zero. Juan I’ve been doing these “mental transcribing” exercises myself, and I personally think in terms of numbers. I don’t repeat the numbers all the time, I repeat the sounds, but I think of them as being the 4th, 5th, 7th, etc. Numbers are good because they represent the interval names, and what we’re trying to do is develop relative pitch: the ability to recognize intervals by ear. I do two things different from Julian though: I don’t listen to the song repeatedly, I simply take a familiar melody and sing it to myself. If I know the melody enough to sing accurately I don’t find necessary to listen to it again. And when I do the “checking”, I just sing the major scale (do re mi fa sol la ti do) and locate the note, instead of going to the instrument to check. But if the note is not inside the scale (if it’s a flat or sharp), then it’s a bit harder and a keyboard would be very helpful. But that’s why it’s better to start with pure diatonic stuff, once you can recognize all diatonic intervals I suppose you will be good at locating the “in between” notes without the aid of a keyboard or instrument. Also, you could use a keyboard app in your phone! Robo Many thanks, Juan, for taking the trouble to reply to my query. Juan :) Gabe Glover Simply, I have gotten caught in the idea that for me, ear training from songs I hear is not necessarily relevant or “advanced”.. I wouldn’t have really processed the seeeriously vital part of being able to hear a song, regardless of its level or genre, and work through its theory in my head to then play at the piano. This video helped me SO much to realize that I’ve been missing a massive need in my practice – taking songs and forms that I normally hear, playing them to recognize patterns, and then using those patterns and realizations and part writing. Definitely, lack of awareness is what got me. Thank you for these videos opening this up! Maria Melnik Oh well, I’m so guilty. My sins are “transcribing at instrument” and “trying to run before learning to walk”. I tend to choose music way beyond my level of skills (which are somewhere around 0.5/100). :D When I was around 6 years old I could “find” most of simple songs on the little toy piano with just trying all of notes and picking right ones. xD Now when I finally started learning how to play piano (probably too late at my 24), it felt like cheating for me, but I didn’t really have any ideas about how to do it. I have pretty much zero musical education, but can hear when something is played wrong or… I dont know, not in harmony? It almost physically hurts me lol. All of this is so hard sometimes, especially when you dont know how to organize and filter all the infromation in the Internet. >: Jhon David my formation only was center in reading music, thanks for this useful video Nadrey I appreciated. Your advices are blowing my mind. It is like a mirror where I can see myself. I will begin to apply this technique DrSnake88 My biggest barrier have been the exercises…All those tedious interval training exercises… i do them 2/3 days and then just ‘forget’ about them. Christopher Thake I have been distracted by the following: #2 Distraction of instrument as I have a number of them and a vast amount of VSTs. #3 Mistakingly believing I need a certain software or app (as I work in IT and I am a technical person, I caught up here) #4 Misunderstanding what the term really means (due to false and bad advice) #5 Incorrect guidance (for the same reason as above) #6 Wrong level (as am a sucker for a challenge and like to jump ahead) #9 Always trying it at my instrument I thank you for this wonderful guide and advice as I studied basic Music at College level, then Music Production for Media (Acoustics, Business, Studio, Live Sound, minimal theory). Then at University I studied Music for Cinema at Ravensbourne London, where i learned a great deal more. But for the 7-8 years I have now been in music, I am learning now that I have a very weak foundation. So I am very grateful for this opportunity to receive this advice and tips. I also have a friend who knows a lot about music and was helping me to learn how to hear the notes I see on the staff, but this is going to help a great deal there as well :) Luis González Ulíbarri I have the same exact question. Is humming allowed? Should we be trying to hum up and down the scale and go finding the different intervals? Or is it humming sort of like playing an instrument and should we just reproduce the sound in our minds? Dave Stegmeir I play the Native American Flute…or I should say, I am new to playing it…Can this method help me as most music I am playing is all based on the pentatonic scale?…My flute is tuned in the key of Am Michael Carrillo Computer music – nah not really. lol I used the original Legend of Zelda theme as a template for my latest track and the progression is: I – bVII – bVI – bIII – bII – Im – IIm – V. It’s cool but the tritone sub and modal interchange on the tonic were kind of tricky. Michael Carrillo When you transcribe into one key do you mean, in the case of minor, parallel or relative? Both? Either? Maria Hammarin Thank you so much for your interesting videos. I think that my (almost) perfect pitch hinders me to play by ear, because I think about what the tones are, instead of recognicing intervals and chords as colours. Any recommendations? Samyak Jain This was a great lesson julian and i got to know a lot from this about transcribing music One thing i wanna ask is that while transcribing how to get that first chord or root note away from instrument as i know the 1st chord is the most imp. in any song and how to get the note right in one attempt without trial and error..! 🎹❤ Marquerete Rademeyer I loved every nugget of advice!!! Thanks so much!!! Please don’t ever stop!!! Can’t wait for video 3!!! James Ready Julian.. thanks for the videos.. I don’t have a home piano.. I have decent relative pitch.. if I know the first note by listening to a song. I can pick up fairly fast if it’s not extremely complex. In addition I will think about the chord structure and nail it down fast. However if it’s a alien ( meaning strange) genre of music,it complicates things. I never thought about speakers causing problem.. I will try to listen through my blue tooth speakers. In addition Sometimes the base notes are subdued sometimes and only good speakers will bring that out. Also as beginner , for years I played everything in c.. I am moderately advanced player and didn’t think I needed ear training. I have tried to develop perfect pitch but that is the holy grail of music, the endgame being able to duplicate what I heard immediately.. in the context of your videos here I am rethinking that goal. I never thought specifically of training the brain away from the piano. Somebody asked a question about humming a tune.. If I hear a tune and can hum it, it is already in my brain . Humming it is like feedback to the brain. I just tried it on Yankee Doodle. I notice that of course it’s already stored in my brain. I also noticed that I used the words. I hear the notes without humming and the melody. Hearing the lyrics may act as deterrent to your system but the help with timing. I can’t unlearn the lyrics. So this could be a crutch, except it helps with timing. Having said that I would think that doing songs that you know the words to would be a distraction. I am not a gamer but I think that would be an excellent place to start because often there are not words.. I think it is melody rather than harmony we are working on here especially in gamer songs they generally are not polyphonic. I am going to try to listen to Coldplay’s clocks, I don’t know it,but I like the melody. It seems like it is a series of interwoven arpeggios. I plan to listen to it, think about the theory( I assume you mean intervals and why the melody goes here and there)…Then play it .. I’ll play in in c at first.. I am going to the printers to print it out. I think he’ll think I’m crazy when I tell him I need it in two cleffs if possible and I can’t see it. Please look at for me.dont tell what key it’s in.. he’ll think I’ve flipped.. after that I will just listen to it and let my brain absorb it and pass or fail I’ll get back to you. Kinda like an experiment. JoAnn Bruhn Julian, when you transcribe away from the piano do you write out your transcriptions? Thank you! Afi_Scruggs I disagree about not transcribing in the key of the song. I found writing in the original key actually made me more fluent on my instrument. Diego Bruno I love this video. Never thought about practising without my piano. That is true, it’s a distraction. Thanks Julian. James Ready I went today and got the sheet music to clocks.. did not look at it. Listen to a piano solo on it . I tried to hear the progression in my head. I could tell the second set of notes were a minor and it was returning to the home key..There are those that are still working on it. I got the intro down. As far as able to do it without comparing to the instrument.. it was an epic fail.. so I take away from this experiment that I can play songs by ear but those songs are ones that I am familiar with. Julian this was an eye opening experiment.. I am going to try to learn some songs and use this general procedure. Thanks Deb Eisenmann I can easily agree with all the distractions and misconceptions preventing me from really developing this way of THINKING about music I hear. But you lost me when you demonstrated being able to come home after spending a day thinking about a song and then just being able to play it! So I guess another big obstacle for me is lack of confidence. But before I watch the next video I will definitely follow your advice and see what this old brain can do. I will definitely need to commit it to paper though…memory is not my strong suit anymore. Thanks for this series. I did try an ear training app and found the quality of the bass piano tones on it so jarring to my ear that I simply couldn’t stand it any longer. So happy to have discovered you at that moment. Rachel Pianogirl This is so timely because I’m learning transcribing from my jazz piano teacher, but you laid it out so much better and detailed than him. For my first transcription, he wanted me to transcribe the solo from “This Masquerade”…the version from the “Breezin” album of George Benson. Very fast paced solo that I found quite frustrating to follow, plus I was transcribing off of YouTube instead of good speakers and headphone as you wisely suggested. I like your suggestions of starting off with diatonic songs of the genre that you mentioned. I’ve just started doing this with the melody “let’s stay together” which I’m mostly just following the notes that the singer sings because there are no instruments that really stand out for me in that song to listen to. It was really exciting for me to figure out the diatonic chords because a previous teacher never had me apply them to anything after he taught them to me. I think if a teacher teaches you something, he should follow that up with having the student apply it to a tune for homework! Thank you Julian! Rachel 劉飛 It’s really helpful, especially “Listen- Think – Check”! Edgar de Graaff Thanks for sharing your thoughts, they’re really helpful! This, along with your videos on youtube, makes me much more aware of what exactly is going on and why it is played a certain way. I’m a lot into the numbers, ‘calculate’ the chords if you would like to put it that way. My barrier certainly was trying to transcribe too complex music, simply since it sounds impressive. But Steely Dan isn’t the easiest thing for getting started. What works for me to ‘guess’ the notes of a song (always away from any instrument), is to imagine that anybody would be playing a (major, minor) scale along and transpose this scale until all notes would fit in. Then I have my reference to the root key and I’m able to transcribe it. Trying it to see if it worked out, correct it, and do it again accelerates the whole process a lot. michael_ellis Thanks, Julian. This is neat stuff. Though I’m not a professional musician I am professionally trained (B.A in vocal performance), so I’ve had the six semesters of theory and aural skills (solfege and transcription) that go along with that. My piano skills are, well, crap. I just managed to squeak by the not very rigorous piano proficiency requirement. I can use solfege to figure out most tonal melodies in my head, e.g. sitting here, I can hear the first few bars of As Time Goes By as mi | fa mi re do re – mi | sol fa mi re fa – sol | do ti la sol la – – | … and can write it out in C (or any other key with a little more work). On the other hand, I’d probably only get the chords half right even with a lot of listening. I’d have to hear the bass line as a melody, work it out with solfege, and then make educated guesses at the progression. So that’s one big barrier for me. The second barrier is a really high error rate when trying to play by ear — even if I’ve mentally worked the melody out beforehand. Anyway, I like what I’ve seen of your approach. It makes a lot of sense and I’ll certainly be giving it a try. Thanks, Mike Joe Klemke Hello, I’m finding these videos very inspirational. I see how I’ve been distracted by my instrument. The thing that really resonates with me is focusing on simple songs: listen -> think -> try to play in the key of C on the piano Pete Cavanagh How do you get the first tone number to start your transcribing in ear? quentin bamford The biggest barrier to the ear is relevance, or lack thereof. If the brain has no strong motivation to learn, it simply won’t. I think this is the big barrier when working through ear training exercises – if they’re dry, technical exercises then the brain struggles to respond. Jazz musicians from the 50s had a strong motivation to learn. They learnt on the job, having no time to intellectualise anything. They learnt by doing, through immersing themselves with other musicians. And the extrinsic rewards were putting food on the table – a pretty powerful motivating factor! So I think it’s really important to engage in ear training in such a way that is interesting and relevant, and taps into a person’s emotional and physical needs rather, perhaps more so than intellectual needs. Henry Chess Hey there gentle reminder: not all computer game music is diatonic. Hearthstone’s intro is not.