Learning music by ear

Music skill

Learning music by ear is learning to play a piece of music by listening to other people playing it and then trying to play it oneself. In some musical traditions there is no written music and everybody plays by ear all the time. Folk music is traditionally learned by listening to other musicians and copying them. This is how music is passed from one generation to another.

Most people in the Western musical tradition learn pieces and songs by reading music, but it is good to try to play music by ear sometimes. It can be a very useful skill.

The Suzuki method of learning instruments started in Japan but is now used in many countries. It teaches young children to play an instrument (usually the violin) by ear.