How to Learn by Ear
Learning by ear builds mental flexibility!
Back in the day, you just listened to live teachers to learn, over and over.
They would create loops of melodies and ad lib variations for you to take turns repeating until you got it, then move on.
I still teach this way in person and online.
Listen, listen, listen: that's the key that will open your ears and hearts to these beautiful melodies!
Here are some friendly suggestions for beginners to rote learning regarding these YouTube Tune Playlists I've compiled:
1. Get YouTube Premium to avoid ads. It's worth it.
2. Listen to Playlists on repeat while you are doing housework, cooking, your yoga routine, or other physical activity -- get the rhythms in your body. I have arranged playlists by rhythm, composition, or ensemble.
3. Niggun -- sing the melodies with nonsense syllables. Listen for different musical aspects we've covered in class for each version of each tune: compare and contrast the regional timbres and interpretations, vibrato, the ways the ostinatos are constructed, the instrumentation, the ornaments, where, if any, improvisation happens, and over what grounds, basslines, etc.
Many YouTube Creatives add amazing liner notes. You can read those, too.
I've picked tunes that transcend borders and are beloved all over the globe:
we are continuing oral tradition in a new, simple to use, way.
4. After you've vocalized the melody, *then* play along with your instrument.
Listen for intervals instead of exact pitches -- these tunes usually stay in just a few tonal centers.
You can transpose once you know them.
5. You can slow down YouTube videos VERY EASILY -- click the Cog icon for the YouTube video and select speed. It doesn't change the pitch, and you can watch musicians' fingers in slow mo. NOTE: This will be in the original key of that video: if this doesn't fit well on your instrument, and you want add another layer of study, you can also choose to:
6. Download Amazing Slowdowner or Reaper software. You can loop sections of recordings, change the pitch to match a different key or intonation, and lots more besides. Reaper is amazing as it color codes pitches so you can visually see the modes unfold. I'm no help with this software.
See you in class or online soon!