Does age play into playing by ear?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by eisprl, Apr 30, 2006.

  1. Billy B

    Billy B Pianissimo User

    Nov 5, 2004
    Des Moines, IA
    They should be able to copy a simple melody by ear. Perhaps I missunderstood the question.
  2. trumpetsplus

    trumpetsplus Fortissimo User

    Jun 11, 2006
    South Salem, NY
    I totally agree with beartrumpet's singing advice.

    SIng Sing Sing
  3. trpt2345

    trpt2345 Mezzo Forte User

    May 21, 2006
    Morelia, Mexico
    It took me about a year to learn how to say Popocateptl and Iztaccihuatl. And even longer to learn how to spell them. My Mexican in-laws still can't pronounce my last name.

    Michael McLaughlin
  4. glorybe

    glorybe Piano User

    Jul 29, 2009
    Since I'm not a musical genius my thoughts may apply only to myself or people like me. But I feel that for most people there are two paths and one is about all we can really hope for. For example Louis Armstrong was one fabulous trumpet man. His best work was well before TV was invented and radio and record players were also sort of awful so most modern people never really heard the great man at his best when he was a younger man. He could not read a note. Call and response, improvisation as well as quite a quick memory for keeping tunes in his head were his wonderful skills.
    The thing is I don't believe that a person trained to sight read and play in formal concerts can switch places and visa versa with someone like Mr. Armstrong. One path is not better than the other. But these days formal musicians who are skilled and well trained have options, People who polish their more native skills either get famous or stop playing all together. It's a hard road.
  5. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    You don't have to believe it, but it is true. The path that Louis Armstrong took is not reserved for the people that play by ear, it is reserved for the true musician. Doc Severinsen is a great example of this. What Mnozil Brass does is a great example too. They also combine vocal and playing habits. Their music appeals to the Jazz and Non-Jazz scenes. They are capable of playing simple beautiful memories. They withstand the test of time!

    There are TONS of well trained musicians that are not famous, and haven't quit. They touch the lives of THOUSANDS of people weekly in town bands, as school teachers, college professors or just plain buddies.

    I don't know about quitters, we have quite a few come-backers here. Glorybe, you need to open your scope a bit. There seems to be more happening than you realize!
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2009
  6. duanemassey

    duanemassey Piano User

    Jul 14, 2009
    Improvising, whether it is jazz or any other genre, is a combination of inner and outer hearing coupled with learned skills (or habits). If you are a solo player (piano, guitar, etc) the outer hearing is less critical, but your ultimate goal is to play what you hear. I am not among the school of "anyone can do it", as a true master of improv has a creative spark that most do not. I have heard, and know many, who have worked really hard to become wonderful players, but they just don't "hear" anything in they're own minds. Instead they mimic what they have heard, and quite often this is reasonable and acceptable. The true artistic geniuses hear what we don't, and have enough technical skills to perform this art.

    Ear training is a must, and is sadly neglected in most academic institutions. I can tell you that in my own experiences I was discouraged by one piano teacher from ever playing by ear. I quit playing piano for years because of her.

    Being older just means you have developed habits which may not be beneficial to your desired goals. Doesn't mean you can't do it, just means you have to work harder to get past these habits. Singing is good, playing without any music in front of you is good, playing with anyone that you can get to play with you is good (IF you're not afraid to suck!), but listening is also critical. As long as you can hold the horn and not spit all over yourself there is still hope.
  7. dhbailey

    dhbailey Piano User

    Jul 28, 2009
    New Hampshire
    Sure -- there's no need in many musical circles to be able to improvise, which isn't the same as playing "by ear" as I've understood the term, anyway.

    I know musicians who can play anything "by ear" -- they hear a song once and they play it perfectly but they can't improvise. The two are very different things.

    But to get back to Billy B's question -- look at any music school's requirements for graduation as a trumpet major and very few of them will have any courses or requirements for playing by ear or for improvising (jazz-oriented schools and jazz majors at other schools being the exceptions to this).

    Having a degree in music simply means that you have learned a lot about music -- one might just as easily ask of a doctor of internal medicine "How did you get your medical degree without knowing how to do open-heart surgery?" I don't want my internist to have wasted time learning open-heart surgery -- that's what surgeons and heart-specialists are supposed to learn. I want my internist learning as much as possible about internal medicine.

    Same goes for a trumpet player auditioning to play the trumpet 1 book for a revival of Mame or for the first trumpet chair in the XYZ Symphony orchestra -- I don't care if they can improvise better than Miles or Dizzy or Satchmo because it's not part of the job I'm hiring them for.

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