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Playing by ear, but how?

Hello all, I'm a bit nervous to ask this. HOW do you play by ear?

I have no music background, I do not play any instruments, but the accordion is on my bucket list. I have grown up with this music, starting from an infant. I've been told my babysitter, an old woman from Gueydan, would dance with me and pat my bottom until I fell asleep. I used to go dancing with my grandmother at Belizaires in Crowley when I was 4/5/6 years old. I was "the dancer" in high school, and spent weekends at festivals dancing as hard and as much as I could. And it's pretty much all I listen to nowadays. I can generally tell you what song is beginning and who is playing it. And I can usually recognize accordion players by their style of playing, even if they aren't singing. But when it comes to identifying notes, I'm clueless.

I've found an instructor to give me lessons, but I believe his teaching style is based in tableture or tabs. I haven't begun lessons yet.

Maybe I'm asking something before I should.

(for the record, I've been reading posts on this forum back to 2009 for anything mentioning "play by ear")


Re: Playing by ear, but how?

If you know the melody of the tune, that is if you can hum it or whistle it or sing it you are well on the way to playing by ear. Once you become familiar with the notes and scales on the accordion you should be able to reproduce the tunes you know and play them, at first just with one finger, then with other embellishments. Mark Savoy famously wouldn't teach kids to play the instrument until they knew the tunes themselves. You don't have to know any notes, you just need to have the music in your head!

Jamey Hall's most excellent Cajun Accordion Music Theory

Brett's all new Cajun Accordion Music Theory for all keys!

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