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Learn To Play The Guitar By Ear

Aug 17, 2007
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.

Slowdown Technology

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 progress.
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
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