Ear Academy, Newburgh, Fife, KY14 6DP

Mixed Instrument Workshops

Playing it by Ear

with Dave J Ford.... it's all about listening....
General: Please do CLICK HERE to look at this page which has information relevant to ALL mixed instrument Workshops


Complete beginners should not come to this class. You should ideally be able to play a chromatic scale or series of scales or form a few chords. The better you are at playing your instrument, the more brain power available for you to listen. Listening properly does take a lot of concentration at first. However, if you're learning an instrument & want to develop by learning it by ear, do come, but you may only be able to contribute simple lines to our ensemble.

Tutor Dave Ford on sax


electric guitar Absolutely any instrument is OK for this class. Bagpipes are perhaps the only exception as they're so loud & in their own world when it comes to keys. Your chanter may be OK but may also be impossible to tune to the rest of us.

If you're stuck in a particular key (chanters, moothies, whistles, some melodeons) you may be left out so please try to mitigate this with a few instruments in different keys or a second instrument.

Dave will bring to this workshop:


All the classes in this series have playing by ear at their heart. You will undoubtedly improve your listening & reproducing skills on any workshop in this series. This one, though is totally focused on this skill. guitar

Most people who say ‘I can't play by ear' really mean ‘I don't play by ear'. One could argue that because they ‘don't', they ‘can't', but I'd disagree. There maybe someone out there who proves to me that they really can't play by ear. If I find that to be true I'll acknowledge it, but I've never met anyone yet. Unlike reading, it's a skill we're born with. Many just never use it.

Usually people find they can play by ear after all within a couple of minutes.

It's a very simple skill, but if you're new to it, it can be exhausting. You'll keep slipping into little cul-de-sacs & you'll find that though you think you're still listening, often you're not. This class should give you all the tools you need to keep on top of your new found skill & steer you into the light. Some find the light too bright & try to revert back to the dots. If you are happy reading music, that's something you'll always have, but a whole new world opens up to many when they realise the potential of their new skill:

  • bongos
    • It's so much easier (for most - you won't know if that includes you until you try but it probably will)
    • You can play a new tune at will. If you're a good player, you never need to have played the tune before, you just extract it from your memory & transfer it to your instrument
    • You can play any music you like, immediately. You don't have to buy & study the music first
    • You can experience direct musical immersion / connection, without a paper interface in the way
    • You can join in with other people, perhaps the most satisfying aspect of all, with no prior practice
    • You can play along with your favourite music on the hifi. This is surely the best fun you can have with your clothes on
    • Improvisation opens up as a possibility

      There'll be lots of ear exercises on this course. Some you'll manage & some you won't yet. Where you sit in this hierarchy really doesn't matter. The people who book onto this course are all trying to improve their listening skills, so if you feel anxious, the chances are, so is everyone else. There's really no need for anxiety.


Towards the end of the class we'll be trying to play a chosen song, tune, movement together. Everything we do will have been by ear. The 'pista la resistance' of this class is to play something straight out of our heads without even having to listen to it. The class will choose the track.


mob: 07970 744986
landline: 01337 842434

Weavers Hall, Bank Close, Newburgh
KY14 6EG