Having a good ear is the most important skill.

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GuyBodenGuyBoden Frets: 634
After 40+ years of guitar playing, I'm regretting that I didn't spend more time training my ears to be good. I've found from experience, that the skill most needed in music is having "Good Ears",  it is more important than anything else in music.
"Music makes the rules, music is not made from the rules."
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  • thecolourboxthecolourbox Frets: 6770
    I agree absolutely, yes
    I want to be forgotten, and I don't want to be reminded
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  • DavidReesDavidRees Frets: 161
    nail - on the head - suitably hit :) ...
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  • thecolourboxthecolourbox Frets: 6770
    I think with a good ear, you can "get away" with a lot more as you can play with the music as opposed to playing a set of mechanical actions you have learnt. You will also be better at improvising when things are going wrong, or if the piece is a bit freer, as you can play what's in your head or what will suit the situation rather than having to stick to the normal.

    I don't consider myself a guitarist, though I enjoy playing it and pissing about with the cool guitar toys. If anything, I'm a pianist. But even on piano, I differentiate between me playing my classical stuff as a pianist, or playing piano as a musician using a tool. When I use the guitar in this way, usually for my own original stuff, it's a lot more satisfying and makes a better impression on me and any listeners. Because I'm playing with my ears, not from a score or a tab or whatever
    I want to be forgotten, and I don't want to be reminded
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  • Rowby1Rowby1 Frets: 689
    edited April 20
    I think you’re probably right. 

    I wish I’d understood this a long time ago too. I’ve only been working properly on ear training using the Functional Ear Trainer app for a few months but I already feel like it’s making a difference. 
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  • RockerRocker Frets: 4305
    A hard part, maybe the hardest, of improving your 'ear' is learning to listen to the tune.  Listening without mentally working out the chords, the FX pedals being used or what key/area of the fretboard is being played.

    I grew up in a trad Irish music playing environment which is totally playing by ear, and my progression to guitar followed a similar path.  Playing technique such as string bending etc. was on a strictly need to basis to suit the song.  I never practiced string bends on their own for example, the song/tune was and is still king.
    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. [Albert Einstein]

    Nil Satis Nisi Optimum

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  • LestratcasterLestratcaster Frets: 788
    As a guitar tutor ear training is a key part of what I teach, the basics like how to keep in time with the beat in 4/4 and basic chord recognition. I find if you have to read something on a piece of paper it slows down your playing as your brain has to process what you are reading and then try to figure out what it sounds like. Whereas you can just hear something a couple of times and play it. Its important for stuff like improvising, so you can hear where the note needs to travel to sound good.

    I remember when I first started playing my ear was terrible and it took me several years for me to hear chords and notes. I'm a lot better now and more accurate esp with stuff like rhythm as I wouldn't play riffs correctly due to the rhythm being incorrect.
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  • thecolourboxthecolourbox Frets: 6770
    As a guitar tutor ear training is a key part of what I teach, the basics like how to keep in time with the beat in 4/4 and basic chord recognition. I find if you have to read something on a piece of paper it slows down your playing as your brain has to process what you are reading and then try to figure out what it sounds like. Whereas you can just hear something a couple of times and play it. Its important for stuff like improvising, so you can hear where the note needs to travel to sound good.

    I remember when I first started playing my ear was terrible and it took me several years for me to hear chords and notes. I'm a lot better now and more accurate esp with stuff like rhythm as I wouldn't play riffs correctly due to the rhythm being incorrect.
    I think it depends on the instrument and learning method, regarding whether reading music and playing slows you down - on piano, which I learnt properly and did all the theory study etc, I can sight read fairly complex things much quicker than I can listen to it and learn it, however on guitar it's the other way around because I've never really stuck at that enough.

    But maybe my musical ear enables me to read quicker whilst sight reading as I know where the piece is likely to go next so there's probably an element of educated guesswork to it. This is easier in stuff from mid 1800s backwards in fairness, but still applies to the classical stuff after then and for modern jazz or pop styles
    I want to be forgotten, and I don't want to be reminded
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  • LestratcasterLestratcaster Frets: 788
    As a guitar tutor ear training is a key part of what I teach, the basics like how to keep in time with the beat in 4/4 and basic chord recognition. I find if you have to read something on a piece of paper it slows down your playing as your brain has to process what you are reading and then try to figure out what it sounds like. Whereas you can just hear something a couple of times and play it. Its important for stuff like improvising, so you can hear where the note needs to travel to sound good.

    I remember when I first started playing my ear was terrible and it took me several years for me to hear chords and notes. I'm a lot better now and more accurate esp with stuff like rhythm as I wouldn't play riffs correctly due to the rhythm being incorrect.
    I think it depends on the instrument and learning method, regarding whether reading music and playing slows you down - on piano, which I learnt properly and did all the theory study etc, I can sight read fairly complex things much quicker than I can listen to it and learn it, however on guitar it's the other way around because I've never really stuck at that enough.

    But maybe my musical ear enables me to read quicker whilst sight reading as I know where the piece is likely to go next so there's probably an element of educated guesswork to it. This is easier in stuff from mid 1800s backwards in fairness, but still applies to the classical stuff after then and for modern jazz or pop styles
    I'm just speaking from experience of some of my guitar learners, most can't read it quick enough to play along to and I find it distracts them from what they're doing as well as slowing them down.
    A select few are competent enough to follow whatever is written down and play along in time. No doubt having a good ear will tell you if you're not playing something right, esp when doing pentatonic scales when they can hear a note is out of key against the backing track.
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  • vizviz Frets: 8268
    Having a good ear is IMO 99% of what "being musical" actually means. Everything else stems from that. And you can be deaf (in both ears) and still have a good ear.
    Anything that isn’t pentatonic is pretentious wank -  LastMantra
    more on the strength of my ability to own a PA than to play a guitar” - ICBM
    Be yourself. Everyone else is taken. Better to sound like an individual than a clone” - Merlin
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  • hollywoodroxhollywoodrox Frets: 1645
    The only way I can sort of use my ear is to follow a vocal line or melody , in fact following a vocal line is loads of fun . I must incorporate it into my practice . I suppose if you follow the melody or vocal you could start to incorporate the 3rd etc in like double stops , like in surf music , which can make it fuller 
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