Playing Piano by Ear

Playing Piano by EarMany who come to me and want to learn the piano tell me they want to learn to play piano by ear. Since that is the main technique I use when playing; my students have listened to me and want to be able to do the same.

Some people say that it is not possible to learn this way if you do not have that what might be called having “an ear for music”. What I mean is that it is easy for you to hear a melody and catch it and then “copy” it and playing the song on the piano (or any other instrument)  you’ve just heard.

I learned to play piano by ear

This is the way I started to learn myself. When I was a little child, I remember coming home from school, throwing my schoolbag in the kitchen corner, hugging my mom and then running into the living room to play the piano. And what I played was what I had heard before.


I might have heard a song in church, on the radio or whatever, and then I played it after my own head – I was playing piano by ear. I did not get any piano by ear training or anything, I just learned myself. I mostly just played the chords with my left hand and the melody in the right in the beginning. But soon I placed both the melody and chords with my right hand and accompanied with the left hand.

This way of playing the piano is still the way I  love the most. I feel free to create my own way of playing and you can hear that it is me that is playing. I still need to know the chords, and I still need to practice, but I find this way simple and fun, and very useful.

The Benefit of Playing the Piano by Ear

The greatest benefit playing the piano by ear is that you can play any song you like! You do not need notes or even written chords; you just hear the song inside of you and play! Let’s say you want to accompany someone singing solo, and he or she wants to sing a song, but none of you has notes or any written chord. A pianist that is bound to having notes will not be able to play this particular song while the one trained to play by ear can play without any paper!

If you are skilled and trained in this area you can even accompany a song that you have not heard before. If someone is singing you can follow and find out during the song how to play and which chord to use.

Some people say that this way of playing the piano is not for everyone; it is only for those who have an “ear for music” or something like that. And during my many lessons trying to help students playing the piano, I can see that some of them very easily use this technique while other people have harder time learning. So yes; I think you need to be able to “hear” what chords to take, and what tones to play. But even if some people can play the piano this way by ease, it does not mean it can’t be learned by anyone motivated and dedicated to learning this technique of playing the piano by ear.

Piano for beginners

How shall you start then? Start by learning some basic chords and the try to play a song you know very well. A good way if you think this is a little bit hard is to start with a simple children song. Sing it and take some simple basic chords on the piano and voila…soon you can sing a song and play the piano. After that try and try again!

Practice is the best way of learning in life and that is surely the truth when it comes to playing the piano by ear! The more you practice, the better it will sound and the faster you will find the right chords and so on!

Learn Playing By Ear

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