By: Christopher Buckley
All professional musicians, whether they're playing jazz, rock,
bluegrass and country music, have spent their first years of
practicing bent over a half speed record player. You might be
wondering what does this have to do with trying to learn to play
the guitar by ear. As you will learn from this article, it
actually has a lot to do with it.
Slowing Things Down
In order to learn to play the guitar by ear you have to begin
with learning the melodies, chords and leads from a recording.
To be able to do this, you've got to slow them down a bit. Some
exceptionally gifted people with really good ears are able to
learn to play some slow songs just by listening to them at a
normal speed. However, even those folks have problems with
learning faster melodies and need to slow things down.
Most of us can't even figure out slow songs just by listening to
them at a normal speed. While most of us can match a note with
our guitar or voice if it's the only thing we're hearing, we
tend to get confused when lots of notes are played together. If
you slow the music down, we can separate the notes and play them
piece by piece until we learn the whole song.
Years ago, the slowing down process was done using half speed
tape recorders. However, as you slowed the music down, the pitch
dropped. By the time you got to half speed, the pitch had
already dropped a lot. Anyway, for most of us, half speed is
still to fast. You will probably need a 1/10 speed in order to
figure out certain pieces.
Fortunately, nowadays everything has been made easier with the
aid of digital slowdown technology. You can now slow the melody
down as much as you want, without having the pitch dropping.
Do You Really Have to Put So Much Work Into It?
You're probably thinking that spending so much time on figuring
out each note yourself must be awfully hard. Why not just buy a
book and get over this part?
Of course, you can buy a book, but, as it usually happens with
all music theory books, it will probably be gathering dust on
your bookshelf forever. If you really want to learn to play the
guitar by ear, you will have to get involved in the process and
figure out the notes from a melody yourself.
While figuring out note by note on your own is the best way to
go, consulting a transcription book from time to time while
you're trying to figure out the music is also good. Some
beginner guitar players who want to learn to play the guitar by
ear learn from a transcription book first and then play along
with the original recording at a slower pace to get the rhythm.
You should learn to play the guitar by ear just because this way
you get the most fun. Playing the guitar should be fun and this
is why you should have started to learn it in the first place.
However, the more you time you invest into the learning process
by getting involved in practical activities, the faster the
About the author:
Christopher Buckley is owner of one of the internet's largest
guitar learning resources. To find out more about learning to play the
guitar by ear, visit Learn Guitar Blog