HearandPlay.com Monthly Newsletter --- January 2005!
Serving 130,636 Musicians Worldwide!
I. Welcome
II. Announcements:
         Visit: https://www.hearandplay.com/newyear for an audio
                  from Jermaine Griggs...
III. Online Classroom:
       "Strategies for Playing By Ear!  (Part One)"
Dear Subscriber,
Welcome to my first newsletter of the year on strategies for playing by ear! First off, I would like to wish you a happy new year and invite you to listen to my audio greeting: https://www.hearandplay.com/newyear
Last year sure did go by fast, don't you agree? And for many of you, it was a breakthrough year in your piano playing --- for others, perhaps just another year. Wherever you are in your music, now's the time to make a commitment to really take your piano playing to the next level! It's the beginning of a new year and there's a sense of beginning again. Now's the time.
...And the "next level" is not a term reserved only for beginners. Whether you've been playing for 10 years or 10 days, there is always a "next level" for everyone! Everyone.
Those who make it far in their piano playing (and you can definitely spot out these people from the rest) are always looking for the next level. They never settle for where they're at, regardless of how good they sound. That's another topic though :o) ...
For many musicians, the ability to play fast scales, runs, and right-hand solos is the ultimate level. For some, it is the ability to figure out chords to a song in a matter of minutes and sometimes seconds. For others, it may be simply being able to play a major scale without making any mistakes. The next level is different for everyone, so don't be intimidated --- take it step by step.
On that note, I have come across a physical tool that I've been using for quite some time now. I could have introduced this to my customers a long time ago but I wanted to try it out for myself before endorsing it to 130,000 people. These small devices have allowed me to literally triple my practicing efforts in half the time. I'm talking about FINGER RINGS!
No more practice is necessary than before ... no more time ... no more effort than before. And I've seen triple the results in half the amount of time practicing. What are you talking about Jermaine?
...Let me explain:
FINGER RINGS are exactly how they sound --- they are rings that you put on your fingers with small weights attached. The amount of weight on each finger can be controlled by you (5g, 10g, or 15g). The finger rings are made to be flexible and fit all finger sizes. They help you to build strength, dexterity, endurance, and what we all want... CONTROL AND SPEED.

... And they're not just for pianists, keyboardists, and organists. Virtually all musicians can use them to build strength and control in their fingers.

Imagine being able to strengthen and condition the muscles and tendons in the fingers, hands, wrists, and forearms – while you practice (and at a much faster rate than before).

Now believe me... I can go on and on about the technical aspects of these rings and how they benefit both the flexor and extensor muscles (the tiny muscles that open and close the fingers) --- BUT--- I'll save that for Tuesday, January 18, 2005 when I'll be making these finger rings available to all my subscribers. That is exactly four days from now.

You'll want to be logged on to the internet Tuesday morning (1/18) to be one of the first people to reserve your set of finger rings because I'll be throwing in a free video on how to use the finger rings effectively for the first 99 people to order. You'll see straight from Doctors and Surgeons how these finger rings effect your practicing and every day activities.

Increase the speed of your major and minor scales by two and three times. Have you ever wondered how musicians get that lightening-fast speed? Now's your chance to practice like the pros.

Take control of your fingers. If you suffer from shaky and uncoordinated fingers, you'll definitely benefit from these rings. Build strength, control, and dexterity now.

Move across the keyboard like the professionals do. Be cautioned, however --- They've spent years perfecting what they do. You'll still need to practice but now you can improve your speed in a fraction of the time.

It's not what you play, it's how you play it! A "major scale" played slow may sound basic and elementary... sure enough. But do you know if you speed up a major scale by 3 or 4 times, that it will sound amazingly beautiful and can pass as "fancy?" ... Trust me, I've seen them played like this time and time again.

... and much much more! But you'll have to check your e-mail on Tuesday, January 18, 2005 to get more information! In fact, I'll have a full informational website set up with tons of details on these new revolutionary practice rings. You don't want to miss this one. That's four days from now.

Your friends will beg and plead to know where you got these. They are not sold in local stores

Enjoy this month's online classroom and you'll be hearing from me this Tuesday.

"The Secrets to Playing Piano By Ear" 300pg Course - Learn the secrets to playing literally any song on the piano with a few simple, "easy-to-understand" techniques and principles! Join Jermaine Griggs in learning tons of music theory, concepts, and tricks that will help you to learn piano by ear! Thousands of musicians have already taken advantage of this excellent program ... why not you?

"The Secrets to Playing Piano By Ear" is full of easy-to-understand tricks, tips, techniques and secrets to playing piano by ear! For this month only, I've also been able to throw in a few bonus items (3 additional piano software programs). Click here to learn the secrets to playing absolutely any song on the piano in virtually minutes! You won't regret it!

2004/05 Newsletter Archive Available at https://www.hearandplay.com/newsletters
* If you didn't catch any of last year's newsletters, visit https://www.hearandplay.com/newsletters.html to get access to tons of ready-to-use information!
Online Classroom:
 "Strategies for Playing By Ear!"
        Part One: The Key Center
Note: You might want to print this lesson out for easier
There are a number of basic and advanced skill sets that, when understood and applied, help a musician to play by ear much easier than someone who is just poking and guessing at the piano.
I'm sure you know someone who can sit at the piano and in a matter of about SEVEN LONG, FRUSTRATING HOURS, pick out a song (chord-by-chord and note-for-note). While that is characterized as "playing by ear" sure enough, there is definitely a better way to do it... and you don't necessarily have to be born with a gift to do it.
Now... don't get me wrong --- some people "get it" a lot quicker than others. There is certainly such a thing as giftedness and it extends way beyond music. Some are gifted in music ... others in sports ... some in science ... others in writing. Then, on the other hand, some people learn and "pick up" on the skills and excel way beyond the gifted. So it goes both ways...
Enough of my viewpoints. Let's get to some strategies for playing by ear:
Learning to find the key center of a song.
Outside of learning major scales and the various types of chords to go with each major key, learning how to find the key center of a song is perhaps one of the most important skills to have.
The "key center" is simply the major key of the song. When reading sheet music, it is the key signature. It is also referred to as the tonic or plainly "the key." In chapter 9 of the 300-pg course, "The Secrets to Playing Piano By Ear," we discuss theoretical ways to determine the key center. Below, I will explain practical ways to find the key center simply by using your ear.
To make it plain, the key center is the ONE note that you can press down during the entire song and it will sound appropriate (at least most of the time unless the song modulates to another key or moves into a minor key, etc.).
If you take the time to listen, your ears will never fail you. If you're new to this, just start at middle C as you're listening to a song, and play each note chromatically (one note after the other) until you arrive at a note that flows perfectly with every chord and progression of the song. I promise that you'll find a match and when you do, there will be no question about it. Just trust your ear! T-R-U-S-T.
To recap:
Start at C
Listen to the song as you continuously press C down by itself (no other notes, just C). If C is not the key center, it will be obvious. You will hear dissonance (a disagreeable sound). The key you're looking for is the key that sounds better than any other key ... the key that matches over the melody, the chords, and the progressions of the song. There will be no doubts about it when you come across the key center of a song. The hardest part is "coming across" it.
If C is not the key, move on! Since we're going chromatically, we'll move to Db (aka "C#"). Do the same thing. Is there total agreement between Db and the song? If so, keep Db in your head and quickly press other notes around it to make sure you're not mistaking Db for what should be Gb or another "similar" note. Let me explain:
Most of the time, you'll hear dissonance, which will immediately alert you that you're not pressing the right key center. Thus, you'll move on. But there will also be times when you don't necessarily hear dissonance but you don't hear total agreement either. You might be hitting the 5th tone of the actual "key center" or perhaps the 3rd tone. What does the 3rd and 5th tones help to create, anyway? MAJOR AND DOMINANT CHORDS.
So it is possible for your ear to be hearing a certain note in the key center's major chord but not the KEY CENTER ITSELF. For example, I may be listening to a song that is in the key of C major. Because I am trying to find the key center, I don't know that it is C major yet --- I'm still trying to figure it out with the method above. Let's say I came to G and it sounded really good. "Perhaps this is my key center," I think. "There's no reason for me to believe this can't be the key center. It's not exactly on point but it's not dissonant either," I continue.
You see... G is not the key center but it is the 5th tone in the key of C --- the real key center. Because C and G have a very close relationship (they are perfect fifth intervals apart), my ear may be deceived into thinking that G is the key center. The same applies to E in this example because E is the third tone of the C major scale. Both E and G help to complete the C major chord (Cmaj = C + E + G). So it's no surprise that E and G may mislead a musician in this example. Here's how to double check once you think you may have found a key center.
If you think you may have found the correct key center and it matches continuously throughout the song, apply these tests to see if the potential key center passes:
A) Press the notes directly below and above the key center just to make sure that those keys don't match the song even better. Sometimes, our ears makes us think one note is the key center when it is actually the NOTE RIGHT ABOVE IT. Notes that are half steps apart (right next to each other) have the strongest likelihood for errors like this.
B) Remember when I said you may have a tendency to predict the fifth interval tone instead of the key center itself? This happens a lot. So, to make sure you've got the key center and not the fifth tone of the key center, you'll need to press the following notes:
If you're pressing... Then test it against...
C# / Db F# / Gb
D# / Eb G# / Ab
F A# / Bb
F# / Gb B
G# / Ab C# / Db
A# / Bb D# / Eb

Keep in mind that as you get better and better, you'll be able to determine the key center of a song much quicker. When you get really good, you won't even have to use the tests above because you'll be 100% confident in your ear. But if you're using the chart above, it's pretty simple. If you're pressing C and you're pretty confident that C is the key center, then you're probably correct! Good job! But as one last resort, test it against F (as shown in the chart above). C is the fifth of F. We just want to make sure that we're not confusing C for the key center when perhaps F might be the correct one. If F doesn't match, then return back to C, your final answer and key center. GOLDEN RULE: Your ear is always the final judge.

Also, as you get more advanced, it will only take you a few notes before you figure out the key center of a song.


As you get closer and closer to the actual key center of the song you're listening to, it will feel like a roller coaster. As you play each note, you should hear the notes getting closer and closer to the actual key center. By the time you get within two or three notes of the key center, it should even be predictable at this point.

Let's say a song that I'm listening to is in the key of G. That means, G is the key center. So, according to the rules above, I'll start at C like usual. C will obviously sound wrong. Db will sound wrong. When I get to D, it may sound right but not totally (you'll just have to see what I'm talking about as you sit down to your piano and try this process out because there will be no doubt that you've arrived at the key center if you're listening correctly).

D sounds closer than the rest because it is the fifth tone of the actual key center. Look at the chart above and notice what D is connected to: ***G***. So as I advised above, if you land on a note that you're not sure about, use the chart to play the other key, which in actuality may be the key center.

Now, let's assume that you skipped by D and didn't think twice about it being the key center (which is fine because it's not the key center anyway). You get to Eb, it doesn't sound right. E doesn't sound right but you start feeling the roller coaster effect. In other words, you feel the keys getting closer and closer to the key center. You know it's coming. If you can't hear this, then you're not listening closely enough. Just listen.

So again, E is not correct but it lets you know that the key center is coming. F is not correct but the key center feels closer and closer. F# sounds really really really close and you even go so far as to predict that it is the closest note to the key center you're going to find --- YOU'RE CORRECT because right after F# is G, the correct key center. I know the process above seemed pretty dramatized but this is literally how it is!


When listening to a song, try humming what you think the last chord of the song would be (... the keynote of the chord that is, because you can't hum more than one note at a time). Eighty to 90% of the time, the last chord of the song will be the major chord of the key center you're looking for. For example, if the key center of a song is Ab, then most likely the song is going to end on some type of Ab chord (be it an Abmaj7, Abmaj9, Ab13, Ab add9, etc). In some instances, a song will end on another chord of the scale (like the "6" or "3") but that won't be the majority of songs.

If you find it hard to hum what you'd consider to be the last chord of the song, try humming the first chord of the song. Most songs start on key center as well (majority of songs). Don't be mislead though --- there are a few songs that start on the 2, 3, 6, and other tones of the scale. But again, not every method is 100% foolproof. You'll still have to let your ear be the final judge.

Lastly, just think of the note that sounds like it would fit no matter what chord or melody notes are played. Hum this note out loud (YES, hum with your mouth out loud). Imagine a loud soprano singing this note over the entire song --- it should match very well.

Once you are humming what you believe to be the keynote or key center, start at C on your piano and follow the steps above until you arrive at the note that you are humming. All this requires is that your ear match up the note you are singing with ONE note on the piano. There should be a pretty perfect match.

Be careful of humming the right keynote in the beginning but then lowering the pitch of the note you are humming as you try to match it on the piano. Sometimes this will happen but just try to concentrate on humming the same note, consistently and you'll be fine.

I hope you've enjoyed and I'll see you next month! Don't forget to check your e-mail on Tuesday if you're interested in the finger rings!

Next month, we will study "bass line recognition" and how to learn songs by simply determining the bass (or left hand movements) first.


Chords to study for month's February and March online classroom:


Well, I hope you enjoyed my January newsletter and I'll be back in February! Take care!

This concludes your January Online Classroom Lesson
If you were intrigued by the online classroom lesson above,
then you would definitely benefit from my course!
*** “The Secrets to Playing Piano By Ear” 300-pg Course ***
With 20 chapters and over 300 pages, the home piano course provides several resources, techniques, tips, principles, and theories to playing the piano by ear. Along with hundreds of chords and scales, you'll also learn how to turn them into gospel, jazz and blues chord progressions and better yet, how to use them to play ABSOLUTELY any song you want ... IN VIRTUALLY MINUTES! Again, don't miss this opportunity. I've even added an additional bonus if you purchase the course this week --- You can read more about the course at:

Enjoy this edition? Visit our message board and let us know!
Please Let a friend know about HearandPlay.com! PLEASE FORWARD

Yours Truly,
Jermaine Griggs

Newsletter Archive - Click here or visit https://www.hearandplay.com/newsletters.html


Further References

"The Secrets to Playing Piano By Ear" 300-pg Course

[5] Chords & Progressions: pgs 65-78, 105-130, 147-165, 182-227.

Do you know what a2-5-1” or "3-6-2-5-1" progression is? Or perhaps the famous 12-bar blues chord progression? In this piano course, you will not only learn how to play gospel, blues, and jazz progressions, but how to recognize them in songs. In addition, you will learn the simple techniques to playing these progressions, hymns, and songs in all 12 major keys! ... Enjoy learning:

The famous "2-5-1" Chord Progression: pgs 114-120, 153-156, 208, 235-236.

I - IV - I - V - I Chord Progressions: pgs 66-70.

I - IV - V - IV - I Chord Progressions: pgs 77-78.

Techniques behind the famous "5-->1" progression: pgs 68-72.

I --> IV,  I --> V Chord Progressions: pgs 74-75.

"Circle of Fifths" Chord Exercises: pg 78.

Major and Minor Chord Progressions: pgs 105-130.

"6 - 2 - 5 - 1" Chord Progressions: pgs 121-122, 157-159.

"3 - 6 - 2 - 5 - 1" Chord Progressions: pgs 122-123, 160-162.

"7 - 3 - 6 - 2 - 5 - 1" Chord Progressions: pgs 124-125, 190-191.

Gospel Chord Progressions ... ranging from "up-tempo praise" chord Progressions to "worship-oriented" chord progressions: pgs 65-78, 105-130, 147-165, 182-227.

Various Blues Progressions ... 12-bar, seventh chords, diminished chords ... and others: pgs 163-165, 192.

Jazz Chord Progressions ... using dominant ninth, eleventh and thirteenth chords: pgs 193-240

Study the different types of Root Progressions --- closing, opening, circular and other types of progressions: pgs 121-122.

Study how chord tones and scale degrees relate to each other [which chord progressions are most likely to be compatible]: pgs 122-130.

Learn various "turn-around" progressions [used in gospel music]: pg 213-214.

If you don't have the 300-pg Course, click here to read more about it.


"The Secrets to Playing Piano By Ear" 300pg Course - Learn the secrets to playing literally any song on the piano with a few simple, "easy-to-understand" techniques and principles! Join Jermaine Griggs in learning tons of music theory, concepts, and tricks that will help you to learn piano by ear! Thousands of musicians have already taken advantage of this excellent program ... why not you?

"The Secrets to Playing Piano By Ear" is full of easy-to-understand tricks, tips, techniques and secrets to playing piano by ear! For this month only, I've also been able to throw in a few bonus items (3 additional piano software programs). Click here to learn the secrets to playing absolutely any song on the piano in virtually minutes! You won't regret it!


Newsletter Archive - Click here or visit https://www.hearandplay.com/newsletters.html