Teaching Students Who Play by Ear


Nancy L. Ostromencki and John M. Zeigler, Ph.D.
Rio Rancho, NM USA


n ability to play by ear is a wonderful skill that can be helpful to any pianist, young or old. All too often, however, this skill turns into a liability when the student relies too heavily upon it and never learns to read or interpret music. There are simply too many important works that cannot be learned easily by ear; the student who depends upon playing by ear will find that his skill has become self-limiting in his ability to become a true pianist.

Parents and teachers alike must realize that playing by ear is no substitute for a facile ability to read and play music at sight. Think of it as forcing a child to live with a handicap, when there was a chance for the handicap to be removed. Allowing the student to play by ear is like putting a blindfold over his eyes. He will still be able to experience the musical world to some extent, but that experience will be far less rich. In this article, we'll discuss techniques for diagnosing ear playing, materials to help combat it, and repertoire that forces the student to read music.



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Page created: 3/28/99
Last updated: 01/30/15
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Reprinting from the Piano Education Page The Piano Education Page, Op. 10, No. 1, http://pianoeducation.org
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