I saw all this recent “drama” regarding your comments about
inconsistent or incorrect theory and I just wanted to chime in. I
don’t need it to be public but I am also a bit passionate about the
I started out with traditional lessons and I am actually quite good
at reading music. In fact, my reading is probably better than my
actual playing and I would consider myself an intermediate level
Traditional methods of sight reading did not teach me the “language
of music” but it caused me to rely on sheet music whenever I wanted to play a song. Your play by ear program is not the only program
that I’ve come across but until I started to understand the the
“why” of music, this is what unlocked the keys to play by ear and
that is what learning music should be all about. Because now I’m in
a better position to play the songs that I WANT to play and actually
understand what I’m playing and be able to unlock it. I didn’t get
extremely far in the traditional system (due to the cost of lessons)
but if I compare the two I am much more empowered now.
I must say that THEORY is very important in music and I consider
theory to be apart of the musical language, like the fact that a
Sus4 chord is made up of 1 4 5, I consider that theory, and the fact
that the 5 chord resolves to the 1, I consider all this important
theory in understanding the WHY of music and the musical language. I
also see where you are going when you say that a lot of the
traditional theories just put things out there for the sake of
“giving it a name to make it official“.
(Traditional Theorist #1) speaks of the reason why it is called diminished is because the interval of the 4th and 5th are perfect? But, what makes an
interval perfect? Is it based on how it sounds? To me, it sounds
like someone a long time ago decided to give it a name. I DO think
intervals are important and understanding the intervals in terms of
how they sound in relation to each other and recognizing them by ear
and what kinds of chords and sounds they make. But to me, calling it
Perfect, seems like an arbitrary name that someone chose.
He also says that it will make sense when you read music. But I read
music and it still didn’t make sense to me.
With respect to reading music, it’s a great skill to have. Before
when I was reading music, I was literally following what was there,
but now when I look at the sheet music, I break it down based on my UNDERSTANDING of music, the way music follows a certain direction, i.e., circle of 5ths/4ths and what chords appear when and where and
why…so now that I UNDERSTAND music, even reading music is
heightened. So if there is a song that I am having trouble figure
out because it is doing a lot of advanced licks/tricks and newer
sounding chords, I will get the sheet music and then apply my
understanding to determine why certain chords were used , how it
makes sense, and figuring out the progressions. Also, sheet music is
good for picking up licks and tricks of songs in a certain style,
which can still be picked up by ear but can be challenging and comes
with time and practice as your ear improves.
I believe the ability to play by ear is extremely powerful and
unlocks vast musical understanding even to the musician who knows
how to read music. Music is about hearing and the traditional
methods don’t emphasize playing by ear enough and if I had started
out on that route, I would have been a lot further then I am now. I
had to search for these “keys” myself to unlock it and now that I
have the understanding, I can appreciate music more.
Now when I read sheet music, I know exactly what chords I’m playing
or if I just see the chord symbol names, I can make the chords up on
my own, and I see which inversions were chosen and what’s most
important is I determine the overall progression because that’s what
music is all about.
Anyway, that’s just my two cents. Those traditionalist want to
“protect” their institutionalized methods because they invest a lot
of money in it but I agree that a few basic principles from the AKMS
will kick start anyone in their musical understanding.
So just wanted to show support for the RIGHT way that music should
be taught, its about HEARING first. Yes we need a language to
communicate our compositions to others but that can be easily done
through numbers and chord types, a simple chord chart and then the
musician can interpret, etc.
My question to you is, when listening to more advanced songs where
there is a lot going on and singers doing the melody, it can be VERY
challenging to pick out the baseline and chord types, what do you
suggest as a way to make this process easier? What are your best
recommendations for intermediate to advanced ear training?
ANY KEY MUSIC – ROBERT’S RESPONSE
Hi AKMS USER,
WOW, what a great message. What you stated is exactly my point.
There is nothing wrong with reading music, it’s just the methodology
that is unfortunately making it harder than it really is. When you
understand the music, then you can really appreciate what the composer
came up with. My wife will tell you, I constantly say that Bach,
Mozart, etc.. were geniuses, why? Because I understand their high
level of musical understanding and appreciate it so much.
Anyhow, in terms of your questions, great ones by the way.
“My question to you is, when listening to more advanced songs where there is a lot going on and singers doing the melody, it can be VERY challenging to pick out the baseline and chord types, what do you suggest as a way to make this process easier? What are your best
recommendations for intermediate to advanced ear training?
My recommendation is that people should understand all the principles
of playing by ear. Many people think that playing by ear is just
that, using your ear. However the #1 skill to playing by ear is using
your mind to do all the work. That’s why the first thing I cover
before even licks, tricks, etc… is knowing how to play everything in
every key with ease. To do that, you have to have a certain mindset.
I know that you have completed Volumes #1 – #3 and I’m glad that
things are already clicking for you. In Volume #4, you will learn the
final principles that are going to complete the music language puzzle.
You’re going to see how everything is tied together.
Also even though the keyboard parts you are trying to pick up by ear
can get covered, all of the stuff you hear in a song like, the singer,
chords, other instruments, bass lines, etc.. are necessary parts in
fingering out what you’re hearing.
You’ll have real examples and exercises to strengthen this in you
Volume #4. Keep me posted.