How to Learn to Play Piano by Ear

You don’t need a perfect pitch to learn to play piano by ear. In fact, with the right instruction, tips, and tricks, you can make tremendous progress learning this essential skill.

Just follow these tips and you’ll be playing your favorite tunes in no time!

1. Start by listening to a lot of music

The more you expose yourself to music, the better your ear will become at picking out individual notes and chords. So put on your favorite Pandora station and let it play in the background as you go about your day.

2. Pay attention to the patterns you hear

All music is made up of patterns, whether it’s the repeated chorus in a pop song or the predictable chord progression in a classical piece. Start trying to pick out these patterns and see if you can predict what’s coming next.

3. When you hear a song you like, try to hum along with it

This will help train your ear to focus on specific notes and pitches. Once you’re comfortable humming along, try singing the words out loud (or subvocalizing if you’re shy).

4. Once you think you’ve got a handle on a particular melody, try playing it on an instrument

If you don’t have access to a piano, no worries—any instrument will do. The important thing is that you’re training your ear to associate specific sounds with specific finger movements.

5. As you get better at playing by ear, start experimenting with making small changes to the melody

See if you can improvise a new ending or add embellishment in the middle without losing the overall sound of the piece.

6. When you’re ready, start composing your own music

This is the ultimate test of whether or not you’ve really mastered playing by ear—if you can create complex pieces from scratch, then there’s no doubt that you’ve got a great ear for music.

7. Once you’re confident in your abilities, start sharing your music with others

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of performing a piece you wrote yourself for an appreciative audience.

8. Never stop practicing

The more time you spend working on your skills, the better you’ll get at playing by ear—and the more fun you’ll have doing it!

9. Set realistic goals for yourself and celebrate each accomplishment along the way

Learning anything new takes time and effort, so be patient with yourself and remember that even small steps can lead to big progress.  

10. Have fun

Playing music should be enjoyable, so make sure to find pieces and styles that interest you. Don’t be afraid to experiment, and most importantly, never give up!


With these ten tips, anyone can learn how to play piano by ear! Just remember to be patient, practice regularly, and most importantly, have fun! You’ll be impressing your friends and family in no time!

Allen Joe

Allen Joe is a writer for a piano blog. He has been playing the piano since he was a young child, and has always loved sharing his passion for music with others. Allen's writing focuses on helping people learn about different aspects of the piano and how to play it themselves.

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