That offer expired!
But you can still join in the challenge for full price, which really isn’t much considering you’re getting one-on-one feedback and a framework from someone with a graduate degree in music from Northwestern!
Forgot what the Play By Ear Challenge is all about? Read more below!
Is it possible to learn songs by ear?
Imagine a nice dinner party with some friends from long ago. One has played the piano for years, and when prompted, she sits down at the piano.
“What do you want to hear?” she chuckles. “I haven’t touched classical in a while, so be easy.”
“Play that song, you know the one that goes bum bum BUM BUM from Tiktok!”
“Oh gosh,” the pianist says. You think she might take a different request, but after you all sing the song to her a couple of times more, she agrees.
She looks up and some unseen music on the ceiling, hums a note to herself, and then just plays the song. Perfectly.
It’s a favorite party trick of musicians because it’s that impressive.
They make it look so easy.
Then, you sit down to try it, and…well…it’s not so easy.
It’s the figurative equivalent of that feeling when your legs fall asleep, and then when you get up, it’s like you forgot how to walk. Except ths is when you’re playing and instrument you’ve played for years.
Kind of an embarrassing becase your mom thinks you should be able to do that, so when you’re at family get togethers, and she starts fielding requests…well…you have to say no. Maybe there’s no dishonor on you, your family, your cow, but it still doesn’t feel great.
Or maybe you’ve just started playing.
Being able to play by ear is part of what made you want to play in the first place, but the nice old church lady down the street who teaches you always says things like, “You’ll just be able to do it over time.” Or, “It’s something you’ll just pick up; don’t worry about it.”
But when is “over time”? Why isn’t it something that this lady can teach?
There could be many reasons why she can’t teach you those skills, but it normally boils down to one or two things:
- She just picked it up without realizing it, so she doesn’t have the language to communicate it to you, and she doesn’t have a solid method for teaching it because it was a side effect of learning her instrument.
- No one taught her, so she (like the generations of teachers before her) assume it’s not something you’re supposed to teach. It’s something you just pick up.
Sure, it is something you can pick up over time, but you are here, reading this right now, because you want to learn it now.
And because you’re here, you’ve realized that you’ll have to find someone else to teach you how to play by ear.
Lucky for you, you can get a solid foundation to play a song by ear in just 10 days. Nothing super fancy here, just chords and melody, but isn’t that way better than just…not?
Plus, once you get started, you’ll know what you need to work on, you’ll know what specific answers to search the internet for, instead of blindly hoping someone can help.
All you need to learn is two things. No, really, just two things.
1. Find the tonal center of the song.
That’s the resting point, the “home base,” the note that names the key of the piece. Like E major or F♯ minor.
That alone helps narrow down possible note choices from 12 to 7.
And it gives you an idea of what are likely the most-used notes in the melody and bass. (Hint: scale steps 1 and 5 are pretty big!)
2. The very basics of harmony
How do you build chords? What is the subtle difference between a major and minor chord?
When you can tell those apart, you narrow your chord choices from 7 to 3.
These two things narrow the possible notes down, so you’re not even really guessing any more.
Once you have a basic understanding of tonality and harmony, you’ll also be aware of common patterns in music. Those patterns limit what is “normal” for possible notes.
So no more guessing, just playing!
And the more time you spend playing around with your newly found aural skills (that’s what playing by ear is called officially), the faster and better you’ll get at them.
Let’s Get Started!
I’m so excited to work with you. We’re gonna have a blast!
How does the challenge work?
At the beginning of the challenge, you’ll pick a song that you want to figure out by ear. I’ll give feedback (remember, we don’t need to be dealing with key changes for the first time you play by ear!) to make sure it’s something you will succeed at.
Then, every day for 10 week days (yay weekend break), I’ll post lessons and activities to teach you the skills you need to play by ear.
These topics include:
- Solfege and scale steps
- Basics of functional harmony
- Intro to Rhythm and Meter
It helps if you already know a bit about music and if you can read sheet music, but if you’re 100% new to this, you’ll be just as successful.
Some of the activities are opportunities for you to record yourself singing, humming, or playing against a recording (a duet!), and I’ll provide feedback to help you. But, you’re also welcome to not submit these. I totally understand being shy about singing and playing for others!
Otherwise, we’ll just have fun together, maybe find some new favorite songs courtesy of the other people in the challenge, and just make some music.
Now for the specifics:
Challenge Dates: October 11–22
Material will remain up for around a month after the end of the challenge, so you can download everything you need to.
This is both a time and a monetary commitment.
That said, I’m doing my best to make sure the material stays as short as possible without sacrificing the quality of these explanations. My goal is to make sure your workload is no more than an hour every day.
You can add in an hour of music a day for just 10 days, right?
You’re not even sacrificing your weekend (unless you want to!)
Regular price is $97, but it’s on sale for $47 until October 1, so grab it half-off while you can!
How do I access the materials?
You’ll automatically create an account when you purchase the challenge. It’ll show up in the Courses tab of your profile.
Each day’s activities will be added daily.
Do you give refunds?
I do have a satisfaction guarantee! Due to the nature of the course, I will only issue refunds until October 13 (spooky). Learn more about my return policy here.
Hi, I’m Amy!
I have 2 degrees in music (Bachelor’s in Piano Performance and Master’s in Music Theory and Cognition), and I love sharing what I’ve learned with anyone who wants to learn more about anything I know about!
I especially love being able to deepen people’s connections with each other through music. Because that’s what music does, right? It connects us together.
And that human connection is the most important part for me.
Teaching aural skills (playing by ear) is a lot of fun, so I’m excited to see what you all do with your newly found magical skills.