Part 2 - Learning Melodies
In Part 2 of this 12 part series, you'll discover the easiest way to begin playing melodies on the piano.
The best way to learn a melody line is to sit at the piano and try plucking out the individual notes to your favorite song. It may not sound like the scientific way of ear training, but it's a more deliberate, proactive approach and it beats listening to tedious interval exercises.
In the beginning it will feel more like you're just guessing, but gradually your ability to play the piano by ear will be real. You will have developed a real musical skill that very few people have.
When I learn a song by ear I always work from a printed lyric sheet. Having the lyrics helps me to remember the melody, especially if I'm trying to learn the melody from memory.
Whether you're working on a more advanced song or a simple nursery rhythm, it's definitely helpful to have easy access to the recording, thereby allowing you to rewind the more difficult musical passages for multiple replays. Doing this also allows you to play along with the recording, which is good for checking your work and mastering the rhythm.
Standard Music Notation
If you don't read sheet music or just have a difficult time writing out rhythms accurately, then just write out the letters above the lyrics, which is exactly what I do. Stagger the notes in such a way that will indicate whether a note is played higher or lower.
Now, I can read and transcribe songs to standard music notation, but writing out the letters allows me to learn songs at a much faster pace.
To be honest, I'm a little impatient and usually like to knock out songs as quickly as I can. I can always go back after I have the melody line written out and write in the rhythms of each individual note.
In Part 3 of this series, "How To Play Piano By Ear", I will discuss chords and give you some helpful little tricks that will make it easier to learn what most people consider the hardest part of playing piano by ear, and that's learning the chords.