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Sight Reading VS Playing By Ear: Which Helps Students Learn To Play An Instrument More Competently?

Sight Reading Versus Playing By Ear

There are many methods of learning to play a musical instrument that Music Teachers use to help students learnt. There two main ways are, learning to sight read music and learning to play by ear. Each way has it’s own pros and cons but which method best helps students learn to play an instrument in an easier, faster and more proficient way? Here's some advice from our skilled music teachers.

Learning to play an instrument by ear.

Depending on which instrument you are learning there are slight differences but the main idea is that you hear your teacher play something and then you repeat it uses your hear and watching what they did. If you are learning to play the piano by ear, you mimic the keys you see your teacher play. Students learning to play by ear has some great benefits:

  • Developing your musical ear.

  • Developing your memorization abilities.

  • Being able to play pieces of music above your level.

Learning to play an instrument using sight reading skills.

Learning to play by sight reading is showing students how to read their music and learn how to play music without relying on anyone else to play or show them how to play the music. Starting from the beginning students learn about music theory and play pieces of music that gradually progress and their ability to both play and read music increases. Students being classically trained with sight reading get to enjoy the following benefits:

  • Developing fast sight reading skills.

  • Understanding how to read and write music.

  • Being self-sufficient to play music.

  • Knowing your music theory and applying it.

Which method of music lessons should I choose?

If you are wishing for your child to receive the most benefits from music lessons, I would always recommend them taking music lessons that teach them how to read music and learn theory. Classically trained and skilled music teachers will also help develop their student’s ear as well but the lessons will focus on learning how to read, understand and play music.

When starting students out at early ages to learn music, generally learning to play the piano if the students are 3-6 years old, they do tend to like to copy what their teacher does. This is ok. But along with mimicking what they see the piano teacher should be teaching them to read the notes as well.

Most piano students who have learned to play by ear find it extremely frustrating that they cannot read music that is at the level that they play. Many times I’ve had students who tell me what level they are on and I have to backtrack a few levels with them because it would be far beyond their head to try and get them to learn notes, rhythm, dynamic signs etc. When they had not been used to it.

Sight Reading Education.

Parents who start young children in piano lessons and choose a classical piano education also get an added benefit. If their children decide to learn another instrument, like the guitar, it is going to be a lot easier for them to learn. Because they have had a music education that taught them to read music already. Our very talented guitar teacher is always able to tell when a new student starts taking guitar lessons for beginners had already had prior classical musical training on the piano. The results are those students excel at a more rapid pace!

If your dream is someday to play the guitar in a band or for your church it is extremely crucial that you learn how to read music. Having years of music theory training and sight reading will also help you learn how to play new music faster, which is a big plus when you are needing to master many new songs on a weekly basis.

Becoming a great musician!

Through the years I have had many students learn to play the piano in Gilbert, Arizona, using classical training, learning how to sight read and including music theory in their lessons I have found my students are able to comprehend music better than just learning how to play by ear. I will always recommend a strong music education based on reading and understanding music with a strong knowledge in music theory, no matter which instrument you choose to pursue.

Ready to learn to play the piano or guitar?

If you are wanting to learn how to play the piano check out Tammie’s Music Studio in the Mesa, Gilbert Az. Tammie has had years of classical training as well as teaching. She is ready to help you learn how to play the piano or help you advance you skills as a pianist.

If you are wanting to learn the guitar in Mesa, Gilbert Az, our guitar instructor Marcus is a performing/recording musician that teaches guitar lessons for beginners as well as guitar lessons for advanced students. Few people are able to have the dual skill of having the skill to perform at a high level of excellence and also be able to teach.

We would love to welcome students of all ages and skill level from beginner to advanced students to come study with us! We will help you develop the skills you need to become an excellent musician.

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