I’m an adult beginner with a shallow musical background. I was fortunate enough to learn the basics of harp playing with a teacher, but am not taking lessons at present.
In recent months (and having a hand injury didn’t hurt in this regard), I decided to try to come to grips with reading standard western musical notation*. Oh, how fabulous it is to go from reading note abysmally to just reading them poorly! I can now sit down with simple sheet music and play three or four notes at a time (without having first memorized them), whereas before, it was probably 45 seconds a note.
Now, in reading some threads on the forum here, I see that there are two major ways of learning music: sight-reading, and by ear, and that both are complementary and valuable. Knowing how hamstrung I was with no ability to sight read, I’d like to work on playing by ear.
So, what steps can I take to learn to play by ear?
Yes, I’m one of those people who can’t carry a tune in a bucket. Dabbling in interval training (http://tonedear.com/) shows me that, at present, I can only tell apart thirds, fifths, and octaves if I start with the same root note.
In doing some searching and watching today, I came across http://www.themusicalear.com. The video sold me on the idea, but the price asked me to reconsider.
I see that John Kovac has a DVD called “How to Play the Harp by Ear in 7 Easy Lessons”, and Star Edwards has a book + CD called “Play Celtic Harp by Ear”. I don’t see any reviews for either work, and the latter doesn’t appear to help learn to play by ear, but to just enjoy playing if you can’t read the music yet.
Are there any books/CDs/DVDs/courses/articles on playing by ear (either for the harp or in an instrument agnostic way) that anyone here can vouch for?
Cheers, and thank you,
* Rant: good grief, our musical notation system is so complicated. Why can’t every C look the same? Why do we use two entirely unrelated staves? How many features can be added to a system in a compatible way before it collapses under the sheer weight of it all? [I’d probably say the same on English spelling if I’d not learned it as a child]. It solves a problem admirably, effectively, and not-at-all elegantly, IMHO. Here is hoping that in the future we can wear goggles that’ll read and ‘transnotate’ on the fly into something more like Clairnote (http://clairnote.org/).