• Dr. Pokey Explains The “If You Can Hear It, You Can Play It” Philosophy

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    Since the year 2000, the phrase “If you can hear it, you can play it” has positively influenced a lot of musicians.

    This phrase is the philosophical foundation on which the Hear and Play Music Group was established upon in August 2000.

    I was fortunate to come across that phrase in 2003 and I know so many people who are reading this blog post either came across the phrase earlier than 2003 or later than 2003.

    However, for the sake of those who are just coming across the phrase recently or for the first time, I’ll talk about it before giving my explanation to it.

    “If You Can Hear It, You Can Play It”

    Hear and Play Music Group was founded at the turn of the 21st century in August 6, 2000 by Jermaine Griggs.

    The name “Hear and Play” is obviously derived from Jermaine’s philosophical approach towards music learning; which is never-before-seen.

    Before the Jermaine’s philosophy came to be, here’s the case:

    If you can read it, you can play it

    The ability to play music was associated with the ability to read sheet music and so many musicians who couldn’t read either felt discouraged or felt inadequate.

    But when Jermaine figured out he could play just by hearing (although he isn’t the first person to have this ability) and also had an effective method of passing the ability across to others effortlessly, he came with a different perspective and mindset:

    If you can hear it, you can play it

    This philosophy beamed love across the world and gave hope to hundreds of thousands of musicians who have given up hope in learning how to play their favorite instrument due to their inability to read sheet music.

    Jermaine Griggs used the word “can” to tell everyone that they are “able to”. So, if you substitute the word “can” with “able to”, here’s what you’ll have:

    If you’re able to hear it, you’re able to play it

    Never in the history of mankind has anyone been able to associate the ability to play with the ability to hear: which is a very simple principle.

    “If You Can Hear It (And You’re Aware),You Can Play It”

    Dr. Pokey and Jermaine Griggs Chuku Onyemachi and Jermaine Griggs

    As Jermaine’s foremost disciple and someone who has followed his teachings closely and eventually been privileged to work with him for years now, I have decided to explain the hear and play philosophy from my perspective.

    Attention: Although I am NOT worthy to do this, I’m going to give it a try because someone will benefit.

    Note that this is just my explanation of the hear and play philosophy and as such, might not absolutely capture the thoughts of my teacher and mentor, Jermaine Griggs.

    So, just take this as what it is — my opinion.

    “So Why Did He Emphasize On Hearing”?

    One of the greatest asset of any musician is his sense of hearing; irrespective of whether he/she plays by the ear or depends on sheet music.

    “It’s NOT Realistic For Someone Born Deaf To Be A Great Musician…”

    We’ve heard of outstanding musicians in the like of Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles who were born blind. But we haven’t heard about great musicians who were born deaf.

    You have the chances to remain a musician if you lose your hearing ability after practicing music (as a singer or instrumentalist). A good example is Beethoven (an important Classical musician of the classical/romantic period) who was not born deaf.

    However, losing his most important sense (hearing) to a point of absolute deafness was challenging for him.

    Recommendation: The Deafness Of Beethoven.

    But for someone who is born deaf, he/she lacks the sense organ to perceive sound with.

    Jermaine Griggs understands the importance of hearing and knows that just as you can’t have a blind painter you can’t have a deaf musician.

    The two main terms in the Hear and Play philosophy is hearing and playing. Hearing is associated with perception and Playing is associated with execution.

    So, Jermaine Griggs is simply saying:

    If you can perceive it, you can execute it

    So, proper perception is key in the philosophy of Jermaine Griggs. The sense organ for perception is the ear and the ear’s perception is called hearing.

    Jermaine Meant “Well-Informed” Hearing

    When Jermaine was talking about “hearing”, I believe he wasn’t only talking about the natural ability to hear. Yes!

    “I Really Think He’s Talking About Well-Informed Hearing And I’ll Tell You Why…”

    As long as you’re not deaf, you have the ability to hear. The ability to hear doesn’t translate to the ability to play without the process of musical awareness or recognition.

    Regular hearing is different from hearing with musical awareness or recognition.

    In a concert hall, while every other person is enjoying beautiful music, a musician goes beyond the regular hearing  into well-informed hearing where he actually breaks down the music into notes, scales, intervals, chords, progression, etc.

    Playing music by ear actually refers to an ability to play an instrument based on well-informed hearing, not just hearing.

    Even as a pro musician, you can’t play any song you’ve not heard before. You’ll have to listen, listen, and listen with the intention of decoding the notes, scales, intervals, chords, progression, etc., used in the song and it takes musical awareness to do so.

    If basic things like distinguishing the tone of a saxophone from that of a guitar can be done through listening and musical recognition or awareness, how much more notes, scales, etc.

    So, when Jermaine Griggs said “If you can hear it, you can play it” in the 2000s, he meant any of the following:

    If you can hear it (and you’re aware), you can play it.

    If you can hear it (and you’re well-informed), you can play it.

    If you can hear it (and you can recognize it), you can play it.

    There are so many aspects of musical awareness or recognition and they include (but aren’t limited to) any of the following:

    Note recognition/awareness

    Scale recognition/awareness

    Interval recognition/awareness

    Chord recognition/awareness

    Progression recognition/awareness

    Believe it or not, it takes a well-informed hearing that can recognize notes, scales, etc., to play by the ear.

    The Ear-Training Gap

    From my explanation in the last segment, you can see an ear-training gap between the hearing and the playing aspects of Jermaine’s philosophy.

    Yes! You can play it if you can hear it!!! However, you can only play to the extent of your awareness.

    The truth is, so many beginners (irrespective of the instrument they’re learning) don’t have the required degree of awareness that it takes to play songs. Hence, the need for ear-training.

    Introducing: The Ear Tutor Software

    Today, Jermaine Griggs has bridged the ear-training gap with a software tool that can help you “hear” it with a degree of awareness that would help you recognize it.

    Below are some basic information on the ear tutor software.

    The Ultimate Ear-training Tool

    The ear tutor is designed specifically for ear-players wanting to master the real-life components of music by listening. Featuring over 775 exercises and 4 lessons families (degrees, intervals, chords, progressions), you’re sure to receive a comprehensive ear-training experience. Click here for more information.

    The Ear-training Conditioning Coach

    The ear tutor transforms your computer into an ear-training conditioning coach, who is going to work you out as much as you want, without tiring, without charging, and while adapting intelligently to your progress. Lessons change dynamically as it learns where you struggle and need the most improvement. Click here for more information.

    The Most Comprehensive And Adaptive Tool Of Its Kind

    The ear tutor is specifically designed for ear players who want to continuously improve their ear skills and ability to recognize musical components. Learn to recognize notes, scales, intervals, melodic lines, chords, progressions, and ultimately songs! Click here for more information.

    The Ear Tutor’s multi-user mode to allow multiple members of your family to embark on their own ear-training journey. Track your individual scores, completions, and progress and make this a family affair! (This feature will only come with the upgraded version in the future). Click here for more information.

    Final Words

    I recommend that you take conscious steps towards increasing your level of musical awareness and recognition. If you’re interested in joining the league of musicians who have bridged the ear-training gap, click here.

    I’ll end by thanking Jermaine Griggs for taking yet another giant step towards the simplification of music learning using technology.

    See you in the next lesson!

    The following two tabs change content below.
    Onyemachi "Onye" Chuku (aka - "Dr. Pokey") is a Nigerian musicologist, pianist, and author. Inspired by his role model (Jermaine Griggs) who has become his mentor, what he started off as teaching musicians in his Aba-Nigeria neighborhood in April 2005 eventually morphed into an international career that has helped hundreds of thousands of musicians all around the world. Onye lives in Dubai and is currently the Head of Education at HearandPlay Music Group and the music consultant of the Gospel Music Training Center, all in California, USA.

    Attention: To learn more about this, I recommend our 500+ page course: The "Official Guide To Piano Playing." Click here for more information.


    { 2 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Ayo

    Excellent Post ! The Perfection Of Even The Conventional Music Practice Still Comes Down To Hearing. No Musician is complete without sound ears .


    2 Carolyn

    Thanks for sharing and caring so
    much. It is an honor to know you and Jermaine CARES so much about your student ,that you want nothing but the best for us. God bless you Dr. Pokey and Jermaine.


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