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  • The ABCs to playing the piano by ear for starters

    by Jermaine Griggs · 27 comments

    in Podcasts



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    Hi, I'm Jermaine Griggs, founder of this site. We teach people how to express themselves through the language of music. Just as you talk and listen freely, music can be enjoyed and played in the same way... if you know the rules of the "language!" I started this site at 17 years old in August 2000 and more than a decade later, we've helped literally millions of musicians along the way. Enjoy!

    { 27 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 pat

    a little confused are you playing progressions and chords in right or left hand


    2 Jermaine

    @pat: Did you get a chance to listen to the recordings? They explain everything. The outlines just support the audio lecture.

    In this style, the chords would be on the right, yes. For the songs, same thing… chords on right, bass on left (slash symbolizes this / (over) that).


    3 Keith

    Could you please explain further, and i understand better with diagrams
    thank you


    4 Jim

    Keith, the recordings spell it out pretty well. Don’t look at the outline as it’s just bullet points. The recording is what you’ll want.


    5 Valerie Klaassen

    Will you please walk me through on how to get started with piano/organ and other musical instrumental lessons. I need your help with this. Thank you very much.

    Valerie Klaassen


    6 LWIIYO

    Dear jermaine, your lessons are very helpful. I ve known things that i never knew before. i ve even given your email to a friend who introduced me to piano playing. U are my mentor away.
    keep the good work up.


    7 Femi

    I started learning keyboard around 1997 and I became a member of this website in 2000, but I was too lazy and reluctant to go through most of the lessons here, but of recent I saw a friend of mine who plays the keyboard much better than I, and when I asked him of his secret, he told me it was ‘ which he joined in 2006


    8 Nathan

    Why do we play the sixth instead of a seventh in a diminished seventh chord


    9 Wilfred Benson

    Sir,i’ve been trying to score this song:hossana by KirkFranklin,bt it seems hard and impossible,sir please can you help.





    11 Lucien Joubert

    I am an advanced pianist who knows another pianist who might benefit from your lessons.
    His name is DAN FARROW
    He plays the piano by hear, as well as guitar and also sings.His address:
    526 N.Lake St. #99
    Boyne City MI 49712
    His e-mail:
    His phone # 231-675-2935
    Please contact him and tell him I recommended you to him
    Lucien Joubert


    12 joy


    pls i want to veiw the piano hear it and learn it. how do i go about it



    13 mykel

    i’m yet to know what is going on cos…..


    14 Ishaq Rashid

    Hello Jermain;
    by listen to the tones of the chord 1-6 1-5 1-4 this helping me to
    learn how to know what tone you are are playing in;this was a very good lesson
    can I put tis on a tape recorder and just practice this.
    Thanks again for your time.Should I play these in all major chordsfirst?



    15 Dianne Carr

    What’s next after learning the scales and major chords. What lessons would you suggest next to get started playing congregational songs?


    16 Jermaine


    If you’re really serious about playing congregational songs, check out this 2 hour dvd:


    17 jeff

    Hi Jermain , Nice stuff, what is best way to use the left hand,having problem with it.


    18 Jermaine Griggs

    Hey jeff,

    Left hand is just like the right hand… just underused.

    If you’re talking about getting the left hand to catch up in terms of speed, and accuracy and things like that, see this post:

    If you’re talking about more conceptual things to do (because you’re running out of ideas), see these posts:


    19 Hoora

    dear Jermaine
    I can’t download any of these audio lessons… I don’t know why!!! :(:(:(


    20 Emmanuel

    pls i want the audio video teaching



    21 charlene

    Hi Jermaine,
    thank you for the input on this phone workshop. I found it through the email I received from you today, where you were checking on my progress after 60 days of lessons. I was really touched! However the audio got cut off at a certain point. Still it really spoke to my heart God bless you!
    I am working on the lessons, mainly still learning the scales and cords and the basics. I am also doing Hanon exercises. Your message did encourage me to go harder after progress. It’s so true what you said about our mindsets having to be right.
    thanks again!


    22 Lily

    Thank God for Jermaine Griggs! Simply genius.


    23 debebe



    24 sheet metal stamping

    Hi, i believe that i noticed you visited my site thus i came to “go back the favor”.I am attempting to in finding issues to improve my web site!I guess its adequate to make use of a few of your concepts!!


    25 Ägypten {Reiseziel

    Hmm it seems like your site ate my first point out (it was super long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I had written and express, I’m thoroughly enjoying your journal. I as well am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still new to the whole thing. Do you have some tips and hints for newbie blog writers? I’d definitely recognise it.


    26 Tina

    I am struggling to relate scales can you please write them down and highlight the relationship.I tried to listen to the voice clips but you are little bit too fast for me.I am a begginer very serious about learning how to play a piano and with this website I seem to learn easily and I thank you for that.


    27 Cephas Keith Reyes, PhD.

    Learning to Play by Ear

    A. Tonal Recognition

    1. Student looks away from the keyboard; instructor plays two notes four intervals apart and asks student to identify which is the higher note. This is done until a best in five is achieved.
    2. Repeat (1) at intervals of three, two and one with the same accuracy achievement.

    B. Playing the Melody

    1. Choose at least three simple songs that you like and know very well.
    2. Sing the first line of the song three times.
    3. Sing the first note of the song three times.
    4. Find and play that first note on the keyboard three times.
    5. Try playing the song starting with the first note without looking at the keyboard. This will take quite a lot of practice at first since you are teaching your brain a new skill of tonal recognition.

    C. Chordal Harmony

    There are three Primary Chords in every key. Do the following exercise with the primary chords in the key of C Major which are C, F and G in that order.
    1. In half time, play the C chord twice, F once, G once and back to C twice.
    2. Repeat this sequence ten times singing along to a constant beat for rhythm development.
    Note: This exercise of chord sequence and harmony applies to all keys.

    D. Playing the Chords

    To play the chord accompaniment for any piece of music, you must first find the key of the piece of music. This should be easy if you have mastered the Chordal Harmony exercise. Here is how it’s done:
    1. Play the first melody measure/phrase of the song and find the bass note that anchors the phrase. That note represents the key of the song. For example, if that note is C, then the key of the song is C Major for which the primary chords are C, F and G.
    2. With your chordal harmony training you would be able to effect the necessary chord changes of the piece of music.


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