Masterclass Handout
Play it by Ear

Go ahead – try to play “My Country ‘tis of Thee” or “This old Man”, or two of my favorites: “The Bear went over the Mountain” and “Take me out to the Ballgame”. Don’t worry about mistakes – they are part of the learning process. You will hear when a note is wrong. The information gathered in the micro-second long search for the right note will be stored in your mental computer for future reference. You are now working on getting out of the horn what you have in your ear – here again, an essential aspect of musicianship.

The more you do this, the more you will like yourself as a musician. You will gain in confidence as you become able to generate tunes on your instrument that you have in your ear. This is basic, applied ear training on the horn.

If you pursue the above ideas for a couple weeks, I think that you will be pleased at the skills that you are developing. Such simple ideas, so basic and rudimentary – and yet so far reaching in musical potential!

I often feel that my jazz students are a step or two further along with these ideas. Playing by ear, not relying on the printed page, learning tunes and songs – all of these are an important part of their studies. More classically-oriented students can gain a lot from the same pursuits.