Look, I’m not gonna beat around the bush, OK?

I need your help.

Why?

First of all, lots of people have been requesting some sort of play piano by ear course, and I just haven’t had/made the time to put one together in the last year or so.

Second, I’d like to take my family on vacation in about a week.

And just what do these two things have to do with you?

Well, the collision of these two events/needs in my brain made me decide to FINALLY put together a full course teaching people how to play the piano by ear.

Although I DO have time to put together the content (well, maybe with a couple of all-nighters), and I’m confident it will be VERY helpful, I DO NOT have the time to put together a bunch of fancy graphics and packaging, etc., etc.

AND…

I would also like to get your:

  1. Input before I put the first version together and
  2. Feedback after you’ve had a look at it

SO…

I’m giving myself a very SHORT deadline to get this done and out to you at a VERY special price in the next couple of days, but this will be a very limited offer, since I’m (hopefully) leaving on vacation next Friday.

My goal is to get this finished in the next couple of days and get it into your hands at an UNBELIEVABLE price, so I can:

  • Show you EXACTLY how to play piano by ear…
  • At a GREAT price that beats any piano lesson you could get anywhere else, and…
  • Fund my vacation! (Hey, just being honest) 🙂

So how can you help?

Simple.

In the comment section below, simply tell me what 2 or 3 things you would like to see in the ULTIMATE play piano by ear course.

That’s it.

I’ll be looking at these comments in the next 24-36 hours and incorporating whatever I can to make this one of the best instructional piano courses around.

Thanks in advance for your input.

Please leave your comments below – just 2 or 3 things that you would LOVE to see in a play piano by ear course.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress over the next few days.

Thanks!


Bill
Bill

My name is Bill Romer and I've been playing piano for as long as I can remember – probably since I was about 4 years old. My earliest memories at the piano are of my Mom teaching me how to read sheet music and sitting for hours playing through stacks of her old music. I took piano lessons briefly while I was in elementary school, but since I already knew how to play from sheet music, learning the basics was really boring, so I quit. Fifteen years later, after finishing school and starting life out on my own, I decided to study jazz piano, and it was the best decision I could have made. It helped me fill in a lot of theory I had never studied, and I could finally just sit down at the piano and play whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I learned all the chords and learned to improvise, too. It was great! These days, I play at dueling piano bars, weddings, funerals, church services, parties and other events and add new songs to my repertoire every day. I still LOVE to play.

    351 replies to "How To Play Piano By Ear… Fast!"

    • Robert Ruddy

      Hi Bill,

      As someone who prefers to learn by ear, I would like to first be able to determine the key of the song to be learned. What tips can you give that would allows us to do this? Secondly, the topic of chord selection and by chords I don’t just mean the basic triads but those full rich sounding chords that pros like you use in your performances. Finally, I would like to learn about making the right hand melody sound fuller as opposed to always playing simple single notes. Just about every pro I see can do this. I’m envious!

    • phil workman

      You should (MUST) add some MP3 or 4 files so we can hear the chord progressions. Especially good for adding knowing howcinteresting canges ar made. Ie. going form I to IV it is often nice to add a I7 in between.

      I have size 13 fingers. I can handel I – IV – V ok but I do not have the feel for the same flow for minor chords.
      Could add a little on the use of “lead sheets” (fake book) Often times playing the cords as shnown, based on the root key sounds awfull.

      I need help on how ro play some of these fake book seqences to make it sound interesting. It seem that it is seldom that the full chord is used often the root is not played.

      Thank you.

      Peter

    • Janice Grove

      Assign colors to the notes c=red, d=orange, e=Yellow, F=green, G=blue, A=purple or violet, B=violet or indigo or black. The colors can go up by half steps using the color wheel. Then we can associate each note with a color and it’ll help those of us who need extra help that black and white can’t give.

    • marc patch

      Ideally ; how to become gifted with perfect pitch in 24 steps.

    • jim

      How to determine what key a song is in by idenifying the pattern. music theory foucusing on LH RH CHORD correlatin ? jim

    • Leona McCarthy

      My ear is excellent. I am blessed. Therefore happy to hear about this course. I would like to learn how to add more to the right hand melody notes to make the music sound fuller. Also, how to add some simple creative runs, etc. to make the music more interesting.

    • Mel

      Can you provide a fingered chart to print out with all the possible chords laid out. That would help a lot.
      Thanks
      Mel

    • Ed. Keifer

      Bill,

      I have reviewed almost all the suggestions that your students have suggested.

      My Suggestions::::
      1. Teach us exactly how you go about finding the key to a song. This is ne`cessary if one wishes to play along with the music. This helps people keep timing accurate.

      2. Teach us how you keep the timming accurate. Do you keep it in your head? do you use a metronome? or do you tap your foot?

      3. Teach left hand patterns for Gospel music, Modern music and Jazz.

      4. Teach 4 or 5 basic scales that can be used with the chords.
      Teach the blues scale, a scale for the 2 chord, 3 chord, 6 chord. 4 chord, 5 chord all expanded chords like 6th and 7th chords.

      For example what scale should I play for Dminor 7 chord????

      Good luck and remember all these suggestions are beyond the scope of a first course. You can write more courses later.

      Thank you for your effort to teach us,

      Ed. Keifer

    • Lola Dana

      I loved your free lessons on how to recognize and learn chords…even though some of the middle lessons I did not get when you went on vacation and someone else was supposed to send them but didn’t …I got the first and last. loved learning the $7.00 keyboard lessons which I downloaded. Don’t stop believing and Let it be.

      Thank you for all your help…I’ll be 80 next month and this helps to keep my brain working and fingers not so stiff….

      Lola Dana

    • Florence

      Hi Bill
      I have read all the comments and think you have great scope for a new book etc.
      I think it may be a good idea to section the new book.
      I notice that you have a wide selection of pupils from begginers to well accommplished players.
      If there were sections it would be less confusing and we could pick out the things that we need to work on.
      I read music very well but your way of showing the 9th 11th 13th etc. was a whole new aproach, but I found it very difficult to decide which to use and put the L H rhythm to it.
      It would be helpful to go to a section of the book on this subject.
      This could work with many of the ideas you have been given, I think you have enough information for several books so take your time and have a great holiday
      regards
      Florence

    • Cora

      I like Kathlene’s suggestions for when to play what variation of a chord and how to fill in to make it sound more professional. Also how to play a brief piano bridge in a jam group.

    • Natalie

      There are scales other than major & minor. I would like to see the mode scales and scales used to play contemporary/neo soul type of music written out. Explain how to and when to use 7, 9, 11 chords in a song. This should help our hear develop to the sounds of how to play with a much richer sound. Thank you.

    • Danielle

      Bill,
      I read all the interesting comments and all I can say is I guess you have your work cut out. Lots of good suggestions there. i don’t think I can add anything new. Look, practice, practice, practice. Your Piano Fast Guide For Everyday Pianist is still very relevant for me at this stage, I am still learning and trying to incorporate the material. Thank you for your on-going presence, commitment and mentoring.
      Many times i think there is no substitute for person to person teaching; short of that, what you offer is the best one can get. I intend to follow up on your recommendation with the “fake books,” to complement your teaching and practice, practice…
      Have a great vacation! Best regards, Danielle

    • Bill Channell

      Got any suggestions for people who have a problem with the left hand. I have to keep things really simple.

    • Bill Asher

      Leave out the complicated chords, make chords and show me how to make runs and counter melodies. And fingering. Love to see videos. Slow ones! Thank you for all your help

    • Alice

      I’ve read all the comments and it seems everything is covered that I ever thought of or wanted to do on the piano. Some of the comments get pretty complicated. My comment is -KEEP IT SIMPLE so that one can enjoy playing. knowing your playing is sounding good and you understand what you are doing.

    • Bill Asher

      Leave out the complicated chords, make simple chords and show me how to make runs and counter melodies. And fingering. Love to see videos. Slow ones! Thank you for all your help

    • Neil Thomas

      Hi Bill..can’t really add to what has already been said except perhaps to clearly point out that it’s sometimes hard to make out where middle C is on your electric keyboard.

    • ljones27

      My wish list:

      1. How to figure out and play broken chords patterns. “O Holy Night” come to mind.

      2. How to detect the chord progressions in a song.

      Enjoy your vacation:}

    • Joanna

      Dear Bill,

      1. How do you know where or when to add a different chord that would bring out a fuller tone?
      2. In your CD, could you please write in word form the patterns you teach on the screen. This would be most helpful.
      3. By hearing a tone (pitch) played, how do you know what note it is?

      Thank you, Bill.

    • Denise

      Hi Bill. Thanks for your piano lessons and you are a very special teacher you know better than I do so what project you up to I supported you and looking forward to receive that lesson “Learn To Play Piano By Ear”.
      All the best Bill and God bless

      Denise

    • Warren

      I am trying,,,, but struggling….
      1. Practice tips…How to get the most out of an hour. I have trouble playing the same thing over and over. How do you make that fun?
      2. How to get both hands to work together for the common good?
      3. Memorizing tips..tricks to remember and recall would help to move on..
      These things would help me to learn faster and keep things interesting and less frustrating. I hope these suggestions help…

    • Diane Smith

      I’m with gr. My right hand is good. I can use one, sometimes 2 fingers on my left hand. So I need VERY SIMPLE ideas.
      I don’t need to transpose during a song.
      How often can I invert a chord before it becomes boring?
      Do you have any tips for bringing out the melody amongst the other notes?

    • DeeJay

      The above comments I echo, and I would also like to see more on how to change chords for ones voice range. Many times songs in a music book are in keys my voice doesn’t reach. How do we translate. THANKS, by the way for the compilation disks!!!!!!!!!

    • Diane Smith

      I’m afraid that is moderate as I get. Perhaps that is a note for you to toss so that you can concentrate on thoughts that will help more people.

    • Linda

      I would like you to include ways and means to enrich the music and embelish it with the addition of chords both major and minor and little runs in between. I am especially interested in hymns and gospel music and a little bit of blues. Hope you can help me achieve this goal

    • stan chapman

      I can play OK with right hand I can play Ok with left hand,I would like some help playing both together,I would like to see some exercises to help me (Im 77 leaving it a bit late I know)

    • Philip Twydell

      Hi Bill

      Apart from much of what has been said already I’d just like to see plenty of clear video illustration expressed as simply as possible.

    • Liz

      I like all the comments above, especially how to know what chord to play with the melody and when to change chords. Also, are the 9th, llth, and l3th chords added to simple chords to make them sound fuller? I have learned alot of chords, but only know when to use them by playing from the fake books.

    • Buford E. Rowe

      Bill,

      Didn’t READ ALL the prior comments… the Keep It Simple, Stupid; seems MOST appropriate. BUT, Of course; WHAT is simple to YOU may be COMPLICATED to me (others).

      NOT that I have VAST experience teaching MUSIC; but several years ago had an opportunity to teach 3-5 year olds!!! I found that “playing” the “Do Re Mi” section from “Sound of Music” AND showing them ENLARGED note heads for the various syllables was quite effective in their learning how to READ music (at least the “shaped-note arrangements). Unfortunately, only had two years with them; AND, they got NO follow-up… in the FEW with whom I have had contact; THEY do not remember…

      THEN, a few years ago had an opportunity to TEACH at the Brushy Prison (forty miles from Knoxville); AND showing them the ENLARGED shaped notes; then having them to look up the song “What Can Wash Away My Sins” in a shaped-note hymnal; they EASILY recognized the FIRST soprano note as a “Do”! And, with the enlarged notes being displayed; they were able to “sing the shapes”!!! THEN, they were abe to sing the words… and even sing several other songs, such as “Joyful, Joyful;” “Behold, What Manner of Love;” etc with a reasonable amount of “harmony;” despite NO rehearsal!!!

      Later, we “advanced” to the piano… explained “scales to them;” with the sequence “one step, one step, one-half step; one step, one step, one step; one-half step.” Using this “mnemonic” they could start ANYWHERE and “play a scale”!!!

      The NEXT step was to shoe them that IF they would identify the “Do, Mi, and So” of the scale they would “play a chord.” THEY seemed to have an affinity for “Fur Elise.” This gave the opportunity of explaining HOW major chords become minor…

      From HERE as I remember, I introduced them to “Twinkle, Twinkle” and HOW/WHEN to add chords to the melody… the “(selected) chord” would have to contain the melody note!!! (Of course, as they advanced they, hopefully, would understand that they can substitute “unusual” chords to add variety!!!)

      As time (and as they seemed to be progressing) introduced them to the idea of HOW they would respond to a CONDUCTOR; what his “beat pattern” would be; that he would give them a “preliminary beat” so that “the band/orchestra” could start TOGETHER!!! My experience of WORKING with a pianist is QUITE limited; BUT, my conclusion is that they RARELY play under the direction of a conductor… so they do not pay ATTENTION to the conductor; they more or less “play the song” at THEIR tempo and EXPECT the conductor/singers to ADJUST!!!

      THIS is MUCH more than I PLANNED to say;but…

      Good Luck,

      Buford

    • Gerard

      Please teach us how we can play like Art Tatum in no time at all!

    • chester

      What works for me is being able to stop a lesson I am watching and practice what I just saw. So label the lessons so one can go to it at anytime and practice. Making sure all fingering is visible, explanations are clear.
      I guess the hard part is wanting a question answered right then and there. Did you mean this or that, or what did you mean by that.
      Bill, do your best and I am sure you will be able to go on that Vacation.

    • Peter Sterpe

      Bill
      I’m an older guy but a beginner on the piano. The variety of information from you has been very helpful.That said – how to syncronize the two hands….. how to harmonize with left hand chords if playing the melody…….how to back up another instrument or voice when not playing melody…..runs, different strums (rhythms ?) are a few things a beginner would need to learn, perhaps from your new course, if he wants to improve
      Thanks again for all your past help……..Pete

    • Dalyce

      The sad reality that I had to come to grips with is with your program or any program, it takes time and dedication by the individual. I think that I literally thought that I could do this fast…but if you want to be good you have to practice, pray, pray, practice, practice, pray, practice and it still may not be good playing, but if you hang in one day it may all start to click. I think if you personalize the program and add some of struggles and light bulb moments it will make the program more effective. Thank you for your endeavor i am looking forward to its release.

    • Charles Henderson

      1. How to train the left hand to be independent of the right.

      2. Simple runs and fills

      3. Simple patterns and variations.

      You are doing great work, keep it up! Thanks

    • Rhonda

      I think adding chording and simple tricks to written music such as Amazing Grace, What a Friend, etc. is very helpful and stress the word PRACTICE people. :-}

    • Carolyn

      Bill: To be honest, if I knew what I needed to know, I would learn it, so that’s up to you. I’m pretty much a beginner with chords. I have studied classical all my life, so don’t feel qualified to give input in this matter. So I say, just make it easy to learn – smiles

    • Sherryn

      how do you know which key it is in & the chord progression. i can normally get the melody but don’t know how to play the left hand or determine which key & chord progression..

    • Dorothy Lehman

      I love your lessons, but I need more help with the left hand with any song in any book. Plus a use a keyboard so I don’t understand just how to get a fuller sound out of the right hand and get the left to go with it. I guess in all the books they go by registration numbers and those numbers don’t always match the music. Does this sound stupid? Probably it is.

    • Bruce

      I’ve been playing by ear since I was a teenager (I’m 68 now) and could always learn to play whatever I wanted. However, I never had the desire to be professional, and finally left keyboards entirely to learn violin. Now I need the knowledge of chord structures to add interest and depth to the sound of my band. Going back to the keyboard is harder than I thought it would be, and my left hand skills are nearly nil. Use it or loose it.

    • Lisa

      Hello,
      I think I would like to see something about how to figure out what key a song is played in, when I do it, I play the song on a CD and
      then bump around on the keyboard until I find it. It can take anywhere from 2 to 5 mins. So I would like to see if there is a better way. Also if there is a way to figure out where you are to go when there is a key change in the song.

    • Clara

      Bill,
      I read so many comments and suggestions, they are all so
      wonderful. I am a beginner, so I want to learn to read music,also
      be able to learn music by ear. This will help me to fulfill my dream
      to be a somewhat better musician. I always have trouble reading
      music notes high above and below the staff. I have idea that with
      practice with right materials will improve myself as I seek to improve
      my rhymth as well.
      You have a lots of wonderful suggestion on your blog to incorporate into your course in such a short time.

      Please have a wonderful vacation.

      Good luck,
      Clara

    • sharon

      Everything that I would suggest has been covered in the other comments. I look forward to your new product. Best Wishes.
      Sharon

    • Duncan

      One of the piano styles that has intrigued me over the years was the styling of country music artist the late Floyd Cramer. He was featured in a lot of the great standard country tunes and was also a recording artist in his own right. I would like to know how he managed that very distinctive sound at higher octaves. I play by ear but I would like to be able to incorporate this sound into my playing.

    • WK Latimer

      I’d like to improve my ability to pick out individual notes of
      a chord quickly after a couple of tries. I’d be grateful if
      your ear training course could help me do this.

      Thanks–WK Latimer

    • Tony Willis

      I have become adequate in all of my Major Scales. I have learned several chord progressions. I am “fair” at knowing my I ii iii IV V vi vii 7th chords in each scale. But what I have so much trouble with is beinging able to recognize the key a song is being played in without fishing through all the keys and chords until I find the notes that harmonize with the song being played.

      Sometimes I am able to pick out individual notes when I hear them… But listening and recoginzing chords when I hear them is a much different story.

      Help me!! Teach me how to recognize a sound when I hear it. I can mimick and figure out any melody I hear. If I could do the same with chords … I would feel more like a musician. I need help!

    • BRUNO

      Bill:
      Simply put, I would like some input on how to cope with the following:
      1. How to determine the key of the song
      2. Help on determining the chord progression
      3. When/how to use complex chords

      Things that would also be of value:
      1. Fill-ins when the melody has an extended note
      2. Expanding the melody line from a single-notes to a fuller
      sound
      3. Background tracks to play against

      I have tried several “play by ear” courses on the net and really do not want to try another that only teaches the chord progressions. None that I have tried teach playing a melody with a chord progression. If you want the melody you must sing or do without.

      Good luck on this venture —- I’ll be waiting to try your approach because I have enjoyed your free lessons and found them useful.

    • Ronald DuPree

      Tell how to identify a chord such as when a jazz piano player reads a lead sheet that says D7, but it doesn’ sound like a D7 nor its inversion. What notes are being added?

    • Mr. Kim

      Bill, I don’t think some of these people are getting it. Playing by ear to me is hearing something and learning to play it. I’ve been a vocalist forever and took a class for piano for one group of sessions. The reason I mention the vocalist part is that I can hear what notes should and should not be played together. I really enjoy learning by ear but it’s usally limited to the melody. How to fill that up would be nice to know. The piano lessons I took didn’t interest me because I was learning songs from fifty years ago. There must be something more up to date that teaches songs I grew up with and enjoy and would still teach the basics. To me scales would be an important thing to learn. Obviously I’m a beginner, but I need something to keep me interested. Thanks for all you do. Kim

    • benjamin blade

      beside learning to play by ear,i would love to learn to play fantastic
      piano riffs by knowing how to associate them with the chord progressions.

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