I am sure you hav probably heard the expression "play by ear" at some point in your life by a
musician but have you ever thought about what it meant to actually "play by ear" or how a musician
learns to play by ear, opposed to taking several years of musical lessons to learn how to "read notes" I
have often heard many arguments between the 2 styles of learning as to which one is actually better.
Truth of the matter is, both actually have their own pro's and con's.
When you learn to read notes, you are actually limited to the creativity of what is presented on paper
by the notes,so your hands/eyes can play what you read. When you learn to play by ear, you actually learn how to memorize the sound* each key makes, and where to find that note on the piano by just hearing
it on say a radio, or tv show. You are unable to do this if you are strictly limited to the learning style of reading ntoes off a page, because you would not have given your self the opportunity to locate the notes by memorizing the sounds, instead you have to look for the sheet music to play the melody you heard.
When you learn, or teach yourself to play by ear* you actually teach yourself to locate and identify each sound you hear and to be able to play it on the piano just by hearing it once or twice. One benefit to learning to play by ear is that (over time) once you familiarize yourself with all of the possible sounds of a piano, and where the keys are, what sounds they make, you learn to memorize scales without realizing it.
Once you become familiar with the basic "c,d,e,f,ga,b" notes on a piano, every song you will ever hear just about will be located between those keys. Whether Major or minor, augmented or diminshed the truth is.. every note will be within 13 notes on the piano. The more familiar you are with the notes/sounds on a piano, the quicker and easier it will be for you to listen to any song, and be able to replicate it by playing it yourself because you will have taught yourself what sounds you are hearing, which notes they are, where they are on the piano, and memorizing the song to actually be able to play it back.
Many often tell me, "how you can play a complete song by memory"?? Truth is.. once you learn the keys, the sounds, and the scales every song you will ever hear basically follows a very similar pattern or formate/template. Learning to play by ear just takes familiarization of the keys themselves, the sounds each key makes, and the basic scal of how a piano works. Once you are
able to identify simple 1 note sounds, you can then move on to
recognizing chords, key changes, or even chor variations within
the same scale.
If you would like to learn how to play piano by ear, I start all of
my students off with a very user-friendly approach to learn the
notes, practice drills, and memory techniques to help you to learn
at a very quick pace, at the same time giving you opporunities to
quiz yourself with techniques that will actually help to accelerate
your learning, by teaching yourself without even realizing it.