Playing the Piano by Ear

Playing the piano by ear has one thing in common with the rest of playing the piano - it takes practice. There are ways of learning however that are a little quicker than others.

There are 2 things you can do to learn to play by ear.

1. Take a course or use a book to learn how to play by ear. 

2. Listen and practice.

This is one of the ways you can learn to play piano without sheet music

Download the free Ultimate Chords Cheat Sheet

Courses and Books

Musicians who are quite excellent at playing by ear are either: A) very talented, or B) skilled and know the tricks of playing by ear.

The talent you're born with. Tricks you can learn.

There are two main resources I recommend for guided learning by ear. Both are very popular and either will work well for you. 

Recommendation #1:

Quicklessons Piano Course: Learn to Play Piano by Ear 

This course is the one to choose if you're a beginner and it also works very well for intermediate players. It has concise lessons, diagrams, chord charts and a variety of different music genres to choose from.

Reviews are amazingly good and there has been a lot of great feedback for this course. It is more expensive than the other recommended book but extremely popular and well-regarded. 

Recommendation #2:

Piano by Ear: Learn to Play by Ear, Improvise, and Accompany Songs in Simple Steps

This book will work for piano players of a variety of levels. It teaches you using simple steps, patterns and common songs to take you through learning how to play by ear.

Reviewers of this book that are beginners or who have very little piano knowledge have found this book too advanced. Those who do have some piano background really like this book.

The main reason I suggest taking a course first is that it can be really frustrating to learn to play by ear. It can be a little painful to try picking music out note by note.  

Of course I can speak only from my own experience. Some find it much easier than I did.

Listening and Practicing

The second way to learn to play piano by ear is just to try. There are specific things you can do to play what you hear. One example of something you can do is listen to a bass line. That will help you to know what chords are being played. 

Here's a step by step approach that you can take.

    1. Choose a simple song. (For example, Happy Birthday.)

    2. Try and pick out the melody. Work on simple melodies for a while until you get faster at playing them accurately.

   3. Choose a simple song with chords.

   4. Listen and try to play the bass line.

   5. From the bass line you can figure out the chords. Try playing the chords for the song.

   6. Work on playing more and more complex melodies and chords.

Playing the piano by ear is a great skill to have. One thing that can help you progress is ear training. Learn about different intervals and how to hear different types of chords.
For more on chords, read Learning Piano Chords.

Return from Playing the Piano by Ear to Piano Lessons Info Homepage.

Download Piano Chord Cheat Sheet