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Brian Kay


Tunes by Ear and Solfege Project

A discussion of playing and singing by ear and a graded list of tunes to use.

Playing and singing by ear and memory is an area that is often, unfortunately, either completely neglected, or overemphasized at the expense of a student learning to read music. Playing by ear and memory was not really a part of my own musical training, so when I decided to incorporate it into my own teaching, I learned it myself in advance of, and along with my students.

On a trial basis, I included an averages of five minutes of playing by ear into each private lesson. The results were positive. Everyone gained confidence and ability in playing by ear. We also used the process to branch out to learning jazz style and improvisation (see below).

If you already incorporate this kind of music making into your teaching, or are thinking of doing so, you might find this list helpful.

Download the Tune List Teaching Handout

Observations and Results

Suggestions for using the list