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The Basics of Learning By Ear « Kiana June Weber



The Basics of Learning By Ear COMMENT

Learning by ear can sound scary and intimidating if your not used to it. Whether you have never done it before, or you have very fuzzy memories of rote learning your early Suzuki books, you should not be afraid to trust your most musical muscle: your ear, and dive in to learning tunes.

I promise this will be rewarding and so much fun. Not to mention it is like HIT training for your musicality!

So let’s dive in. The three basic steps:

1) Establish a Key or Tonal Center – If you are great with finding key signatures, wonderful! You know exactly how to approach this. But this might just be a simple as listening carefully to the first note and the last note of the tune. Then finding where your “Do” is.  Try playing Do (or the I) as a drone.

2) Listen for patterns – So start playing, humming, plucking along and listening for really basic movement and patterns in the notes. Are they moving up or down? Do the notes move like a scale or do they skip between notes? What kind of rhythm do you hear? Are notes grouped  in 3’s or 4’s?

3) Break it in to Sections – Luckily fiddle tunes often follow a fairly predictable formula and  there are many sections of repetition. ( See the image above. ) This can be your guide. It’s not a fail safe, but at least it can be used as a good place to start.

Lastly, Just have fun! You are going to play lots of wrong notes, and make lots of mistakes but that is ok. Everybody does, and that is how we learn. Just keep trying, listening, signing it in your head and you will get there!

Best of Luck, and happy fiddling!




Kiana June Weber is an Irish-American fiddler in the internationally famous Celtic band Gaelic Storm. She has recorded 3 Billboard World No. 1 albums and toured the globe performing for millions of fans, student, and dignitaries. With an honors B.M. in Violin Performance from University of Michigan, and a specialization Social Media Marketing from Northwestern University  Kiana continues to perform, explore and expand Irish and Classical music. Reach out to her on twitter, and all other platforms @KianaJuneWeber  #IrishFiddle

For more detailed information, enthusiasts and students can follow Kiana’s new project, @IrishFiddle,  on Instagram.