Off the Charts: Learning to Play by Ear Workshop 2016

This Saturday (July 23, 2016) Leslie’s Music Studio held it’s first Playing by Ear Workshop for students in grades 1-5.  Eric Newlin was our guest teacher and led students through ear training exercises and how to play piano without sheet music.

Big ideas of the day were identifying pitch direction, intervals, listening for major or minor tonality, tempo and time signature. We played a few games to warm up their ears, lifting “musical weights” and building listening muscles! As students became more familiar with these elements of music, they began recreating familiar tunes on their own or with a partner. The young musicians even learned a new song with a right hand melody and left hand chord accompaniment entirely by ear. For most students, this was a completely new skill that challenged them to make music in a whole new way.

A summer workshop wouldn’t be a summer workshop without a little snack break and ice cream! During the three hour class we took a short brain break to chat, get to know each other better, and enjoy some ice cream sandwiches and trail mix. One of my favorite parts of teaching is building community for children and families, so I was happy that these piano students with common interests were able to meet. Group lessons and workshops provide a place where students can form a piano family to support one another as well as an opportunity to perform for peers in a small, friendly environment.

Students had so much fun playing and learning together this weekend. I’m looking forward to hearing what other new songs my students begin mastering at home sans sheet music.

Partners in playing by ear
The group comes together after working individually to play a familiar tune, each student in their own octave
Working on recreating a familiar tune at the keyboard – no sheet music on that music stand this time!
Practicing intervals with a bean bag toss game