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Listen to Your Ear


I’ve had lots of students over the years.  And I always want to teach them music theory.  What?  No, no… music isn’t a theory.  Then what is music theory?  Well it is how scales and notes relate to each other.  Weight?  No, music doesn’t have weight.  What?!  What do I need scales for then?  God Lord!

Look, scales are all the notes in a pattern that a song might follow.  And then if you skip every other note, you make chords.  Tie some one up?  What?  No, CHORDS, not cords!  Geesh.

Here is the problem with music theory, and don’t interrupt me again!  You want to learn it so that it can help you play.  But if you pay to much attention to it, then what you will play will be not worth listening.  Yeah, like the practicing to perfection that I talked about yesterday.  Sure I can give you an example.  Hey, didn’t I tell you not to interrupt me.

So Cata is playing bass and she turns to me and says she doesn’t like that G.  I ask her what G.  The G on the first line.  There isn’t one there.  I took it out.  Ahhhh yes, I must have forgot to tell you dear.  What should you play there.  Well play the A; it is A minor for the first line.  And that is just what music theory would tell you to do.

She doesn’t play.  She just looks puzzled.  After a while she plays a little.  Then she beams.  I’m going to play a C there.  And she does, with a little walk up from the A to the C.  No, this isn’t a little cottage by the sea.  What she plays sounds a lot better than what just playing by theory would have.  And that C is part of the A minor chord, so it is still within the rules of theory.  But she didn’t pay attention to theory, she paid attention to her ear.

So you see, listen to your ear.  What?  I don’t care which ear; whichever one you want to.

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