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

I need your help.


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.


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


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?


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.



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!"

    • david

      Hi Bill

      i would agree with most of the comments so far, but in particular the idea of how to fill out and embellish a tune with chords and inversions and how to improvise.

      good luck!- and if it doesn’t work out in the next few days having a holiday at home can be great.




    • Edith Pidgeon

      I am not musically gifted, I can not play by ear. I would love too but, if there’s a way to train your ear. That would be magic. I would a picture book of music. Where to put your finger, how long will you hold the note if it’s a half beat, quarter etc.

    • Gary

      What I would like to see you do, and I think others would appreciate it as well, is to share with us how to know which chord progressions to play when playing for a soloist. I’m no expert, but it seems like there are some chord progressions that just naturally flow together when playing certain songs. If there is a formula or certain chord patterns that can be applied, I feel this would prove to be very helpful in learning to play by ear. Love what you do.

    • Harry "B "

      Greetings ! Bill,
      M,any Thanks for your Help;

      I doubt that there is any quick way, for satisfaction;
      only. Practise, Practise, Practise, & Practise.

      Enjoy your Holiday.

    • Larry STERiO McPhail

      1.} the need for Video Is paramount,.. First As A Selling Acumen, And secondly, as a tutorial standout, playing chords are important , but the eye to hand training method simply works.
      2.} chords and fingers, a brief illustration on how the fingering of the piano keys makes for easier manipulation of the chord structure, sure you can give somebody a command for let’s say a “7″ structure, and have to wait, turn back, get the key formation, then play the structure, until they get it right. and of course the left hand keys and the right hand keys have to be a stark realization, as well.
      Thank You,
      Larry STERiO McPhail.

    • Anne

      I’d like some info on changing from one key to another in the same song – so one verse is higher or lower than the others

    • Phil J

      Bill, I can pick out a tune with the right hand pretty easy, but I just don’t know what chord to put with the notes for the song I am playing. Maybe you can say something more about chord progressions; how to know what chords to use and what chord to play next.
      Thanks for sharing your knowledge and skill.

    • Nikola Djurisic

      Which inversion is the best in songs?

      How to get both hands working together?

    • Michael Orr

      Hello Bill,

      At one time I was teaching anyone that wanted to learn, from 3 – 21 yrs of age. My approach was simple, but accellerated for all. The first day we learned the notes of the piano, 96-chords (major, minor, augmented, diminished, sixth,and seventh chords), we learned 3 major scales and 3 relative minor scales. Everyone went home knowing scale pattern, how to find the relative minor scale of a major scale,and how to build the chords we learned this day.

      Day two was easier. We worked on scale degree and numbering each scale degree. We started the listening game. The class would listen to simple, but familiar songs while listening for interval distances. Such as a ‘Wedding Song’ the most popular musical phrase in the song you can clearly hear a ‘perfect fourth and a perfect interval’ which most if not all children can identify. The song ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ the melody srart with a perfect octave. With the various range of ages, everyone learned together at the speedy pace, and they all had fun!!

      With teaching the chords and making all understand, I would:

      Cmaj chord = Start with (C)Root note, then count 4 notes over (E) then count 3 notes over (G) = (C)(E)(G) played together is a Cmaj chord. Follow the formula below for other chords.

      R note is chord name, and formula numbers tells the type of chord.

      The formula is R-4-3= major chord.
      The formula R-3-4 = minor chord.
      The formula R-3-3 = diminished chord.
      The formula R-4-4 = augmented chord.

      There is a lot more I could talk about, but its time to let review other letters. The ways of teaching piano by ear has been very successful for me and neither of the cstudents had any problems understanding or following the lesson plan (even the hard-headed students found the lessons to be enjoyable). Once we got into the playing the ‘Circle of Fifths’ up and down the keyboard, transposing became a cinch.

      Thanks for hearing me out. I hope my ideas are useful in some way. Best of luck with your new masterpeice.

      Musically speaking,


    • Vic Jackson

      How to determine the harmonies and chord sequence having worked out the melody using say ‘Audacity’.

      Then how to ‘fill in’ to make a reasonable arrangement in various styles

      Then, as a senior citizen, how to remember it all !!!

    • Jeff Hughes

      Once you know the chords of the song it would be good to know how to stretch them out on the keyboard to really set the rhythm of the song and open the door for a dynamite lead. The bass would follow along with the drums. ex. 1 and 5 on the left hand followed by 3rds, 5ths, 9ths, 11ths and 13ths. Maybe different on the left hand. Let us know Bill and have a good vacation!!!!

    • mathiass

      hi.bill.thank you for giving me the lesson that play the piano by ear.But i am so sorry i have never seen and played like that .But i will try more and more to play.

    • TOM

      1. Left Hand Accompaniment Techniques
      2. Fills,Embellishments for right hand to fil “the gaps” in the melody
      3. Tips to make your playing sound more professional

    • Colin Harris

      Chord progressions
      What chords to use.

    • jane

      I would like to know how to p[lay the right chords, simple chords, as I havent the full use of my fingers. am 67 and have just taught myself to play the piano, and chords are a problem

    • Allen

      1/ How to recognize the KEY of a song and Chord progressions.
      2/ How to fill in the ‘hole’ between chords.


    • david

      I will go along with Alphonso, and all others are great to learn!

      Thanks, I wish I could recognize the tone of each note better.

    • cliff

      Ive tried on many occations to play with little to no results other then just getting teed-off for not being able to use both hands at once and really no idea of play at proper tempo and try to sing along to get this down.
      Im sure it can be done but i need something to give me that slight push to play

    • Robert

      Bill, I would like to use this playing by ear as a tool for improvising in contrast to listening and reproducing songs, although both are wonderful.

    • Rhonda Mapp

      I would like to know how to recognize right fromt he beginning, what key to play jazz standards in when playing with a band in a jam session. Also, I would like to play by IMPROVISING well known jazz classics, i.e., “Misty”, “Catch the A Train”, “Satin Doll”, etc.

    • ivan

      Hi Bill! Lots of comments.
      Here are a few extra.
      1) When should melody be played, and when not – I am thinking of singing the song and playing together with the piano.

      2) Since I am no drum player, how is a rhytm and base best achieved on the piano, together with ackompaniment of the song?

      So many other things have been said above.

      Good luck, BIll!

    • Bob Turmell

      Ear training is a must. Learning to recognize intervals is primary.
      Excercises in inteval recognition would be a great help.
      Any thing that gradually builds student confidence, will be a big positive.Teaching the person to start simply while practicing the skIll regulaly would be important.

    • katie anthony

      hello bill.
      i would like to have a book that you fix with note that you play with song.like amazing grace,i want to know more about my lord,i know my chord but i don” know how to play my ear.if i had a book with the notes on it i think it would be a big help.
      thank you for all your help. hope you and family will have a great vacation.

    • christine

      I have been trying for over a year but I can only play a little. I like to make my piano come alive. I don’t know what minors to play with the cords. I am playing by ear and I also read notes. I play with all the cords but only in R 4 5. i would like to know how to improvise. WE need help to move on. Good Luck. /christine

    • mike ivison

      one word, videos. thats how i learn the best.

    • Ning

      Hi Bill,

      I would appreciate if there will be a chapter on skill of improvisation, in particular on inserting jazz style into the music..this will just make everything perfect!! Thanks for the email and everything Bill.

    • Linus Thrasher

      If you learn the basic structure of music, therefore knowing where it comes from, you’re well on your way.Start with the Key of C and learn that notes 3&4 are close together and so are 7&8. Flat the third and you’ve got C minor, Sharp the fifth and you’ve got C augmented.
      Flat the 7th and you’ve got C7.
      Raise the root (C) 1/2 note and you’ve got C# diminished . (The C#, E ,and G also make an E dim and a G dim)
      Keep the Root and lower the others 1/2 tone and you’ve got more diminished chords. Remember that they do repeat.
      Start on any note and go up the keyboard keeping 3&4 and 7&8 close together. You can now write all the scales and the rules are the same.
      Start with one finger and play a tune. Then do it again and add a note from a chord. Then do it again. Eventually put in some notes with the left hand.(One note at a time)Have fun and remember the three rules. 1.Practice 2.Practice. 3. Practice



    • sharon

      Bill, I can play any song I hear with one hand, I can play it same with both
      hands but I can not make it sound as beautiful without reading music!
      Good Luck, And do what you know! Have a great vacation with family,
      My daughter is having a boy any day now, watching her 5, year old
      while her and her husband wait it out!!!

    • Shelley

      I would like to learn to chord piano and play by ear.
      Know what to play in my left hand while chording in my right hand.
      How to transpose a key while chording. Thanks

    • Terry Crenshaw

      Good to hear from you. If you really want my personnel help contact my e-mail and i’ll return some attachments i’m sure you may find very interesting, and I hope helpful. I taught myself by ear and created my own little system that may help you. I’m no expert by anymeans, but I do play in an old Classic Rock/ Country band, and everyone says I sound just fine. All would ask in return is your continued friendship and assistance in my pursuits to learn more. (And maybe a free copy when you finish) LOL. Thanks..

    • Houston

      Well I tell ya been playing some for several years and along with the other comments try to show and explain the numbering system like 1,4,5, in songs and how to number songs and explaining turnarounds in songs and tags might be helpful good luck I look forward to seeing this I can always learn something new and Thanks for doing it…..

    • Jerry

      Anything you could do would be helpful.
      A few suggestions:
      1. Video would be great. If not now? When? Imitative skills ( using hand/eye coordination) are best and easiest tolearn.
      2. We can all plink on the piano. We can even find the progressions of melody in the major keys. What we seem to be unable to learn intuitively is to find and play the sequence of ‘chords’ to the melody while singing a song. Let’s say I sing in the Key of E. I know the E Chord; but, from there where do I go. On the guitar its easy but it doesn’t sound right on the piano. Where are we going wrong?
      3. The dead zones between the chords! How do we fill in with a ‘riff’ up or down between the playing of the chords or a fill in when there is a break? Also; how do we know that we remain in ‘key’ and when can we swing into an upper octave to lend some dynamism to the playing of songs?
      4. We only learn well when we ‘do’. If we don’t ‘do’ we will not learn. That is where the old adage: practice! practice! practice! comes from.

      Those are the only comments I can provide at this time.

    • Nestor

      Write your chord symbols in Roman Numerals i.e. I (C-E-G in Key of C IIm (D-F-A) V7 (G-B-D-F) and so on. If you know the symbols you can play songs in any keys. Videos for playing left hand and right hand voicing putting emphasis on fingering.

    • Daniel Gisbey

      Hi Bill,
      Thanks for everything you’ve shared so far.

      I already play out with a friend in a local bar/resturant, playing a whole range of songs, mostly pop/classic rock. I write down the lyrics with chords above them. Although I can read and play the the chords, I don’t really understand what I’m doing and can’t switch to another key if required. Without the chord sheets, I am lost.
      I would like to understand standard chord progressions and how to recognise them in popular songs.
      How to know the next note in a melody without pecking around.

      I would love to see videos of popular songs with an explanation of what chords are being used and why these particular chords and inversions.
      An explanation of the circle of 5ths/4ths and how to use it practically.

      Thanks again, and I look forward to see what you come up with.

    • Sam Messick

      As an 80 pluser, I firmly believe that you’re never to old to learn more. I have a lot of your material already, but I would like to have more relative to most of whats already been commented on.
      Thanks, Sam – – Enjoy your family!!!

    • Alex

      1. since this is a play by ear (fast) course, i think the following 2 points r important:

      1. the “how-to” recognition of melodic intervals – and lots of examples of popular tunes to support it.

      2. the unique “colours” of chords – supported again with many examples (not just one or two).

      examples r time-saving…

    • Rocky Hill

      Include the circle of 5ths in simple form..

      A chart for chord inversions for all keys, with fingering positions

      Some tight chord progressions in several keys for Standard Jazz and blues.

    • ikhlass

      I would like to know how to play rhythm on the piano for song accompaniment in various styles/ tempos such as: ballads, cha cha,
      rumba, rock, jazz, bossanova, slow rock, beguin etc.

    • abiola bamidele

      hi bill thhis is really awesome i love this syuf it really help me a lot thanks and god bless you

    • roland

      changing orinary chords to jazz chords by adding what in order to get jazz sound, i heard from a pianojazzplayer that he simply adds one or two other tones and the orinary chord sound better is there any rule or advise or is it just trial and error?

      singing/ playing a melody on the right hand and then adding chords on the left what is a good way to start with and think?

      who can you build up an elton john sound or modern jazz piano sound buid up, it seems that just a definite way but how ?

    • Ginger

      Hi Bill
      Thank you for asking. As a relative novice at piano playing I can say that an emphasis on listening followed by the explanation of what was just heard would help to train the ear. I think one might then be more successful in translating sound to executing the correct key note patterns. The tricks of what chords logically follow one another is a great help.

      The visual is invaluable along with the verbal explanation.
      Not an easy “quick” task, I am sure. Good luck!

    • Jerry

      Question for Michael Orr

      You area a Music Teacher. Therefore you know music.
      When you say things are ‘relatively’ simple or ‘easy’ you may be taking the chance of diminishing some of the people on this forum. They may not get it the 1st, 2nd or even the 3rd time. So, perhaps the comments and the suggestions could be framed a little more informatively.

      Regarding your suggestions:
      1. 96-chords (major, minor, augmented, diminished, sixth,and seventh chords). I know it will take me more than a few days to learn 96 chords. Perhaps one chord a day for 96 days and I will learn or perhaps 96 chords over the course of a year. I did find your formulas helpful.However, I was just wondering: How do I play an octave progression of say an augmented key? Lets use the Key of C. The same with the other major keys?
      2. we learned 3 major scales and 3 relative minor scales. Which ones were they and how do I play them? or; is this question redundant in view of the question above?
      3. how to find the relative minor scale of a major scale,and how to build the chords. Just how do I do that? Or; is the question redundant in view of the two previous questions?
      4. scale degree and numbering each scale degree. ?????? Now you have really lost me. Could you explain please? Better yet – can you show me?? Tell me so I could understand and apply it???
      5. musical phrase in the song you can clearly hear a ‘perfect fourth and a perfect interval. Musical phrase?? Perfect fourth??? Perfect Interval??? By this time you have lost me and I am looking at the piano as an unintelligible monster. Will I ever want to touch it again???
      The later part of your post I really liked. It explained things in simple, understandable language. I tried it and it worked. I can do it with a few of the chords and will now work on more. Question: How do I now take these chords and play a do-re-mi type of octave without making it sound like I am using the wrong notes to that octave? Or; is there a patten for playing an octave that I should be aware of??

      You see – we want to learn. We just need the explanations using patience and understanding that many of us are starting for square one and see this big ‘toothy’ monster in front of us that won’t do a darn thing we want it to do!


    • bill huffman

      What key is it in?

      What chords do you play with the melody?

      How to transpose?

    • Matt

      Talk about intervals and common chord progressions.
      Talked about hearing major and minors.
      Give me a cheap price on this thing

    • Kenny


      Please show us how to open voice chords I have the study guide and my left hands getting a good workout but my right hands bored of O’ Christmas tree. Plus, I missed the 3 DVD lesson offer and I’m just up to the part dealing with 9ths. Have a good vacation.





    • Guillermo

      Bill – Have a great vacation time with your family. My 3 suggestions are: (1) A chord progression process. (2) Key transposition. (3) Voicing with right hand & Inversions. I have taught myself how to play the electronic keyboard both with lead sheets and by ear. I need a little more help on the ear method and to get more involved in playing the songs in a jazz style.

      Centennial, CO

    • Kent Dugna

      I think you’ve got plenty of suggestions. Pretty much anything you know, we need to know.
      Bottle it, and we’ll drink it!

    • Peter Attwood

      All the commentsd are valid,but what I am seaching for is a simplistic means of following the tune I play with my right hand that sound professional and melodic.I can read music and play by memory, but its a bind, and I would very much like to play without improvising somebody elses music. Other people can play by ear, without any of the techical jargon.Why can’t I.

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