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Play Guitar By Ear - Nashville Number System
Using the number system for chord progressions is a great way to
learn to play guitar by ear quickly. This system of using numbers
is not new a new system jazz and country musicians have used this
method for years, in fact it is sometimes referred to as the
"Nashville Numbers System".
By using this number system it's easy to discover the common
chord progressions in popular music, the benefit of using numbers
in place of the traditional alphabetical letters is that it
allows us to 'see' how the various mathematical relationships
remain constant regardless of key changes.
Many students play music for years and never learn to look
'beneath the surface' of the printed music. Often these players
believe that do not have the gift of a playing by ear, when in
reality that have not known how to de-code the written score.
Once a guitarist learns and practices the skill of reducing chord
progressions to mathematical codes the door to a whole new
musical world is open to them. This is the world of high speed
memory and recall.
Try taking a piece of sheet music and
(a) re-write the bars out into a chord progression template
consisting of four bars to each line, remember to create an even
number of bars.
Your song template should fit neatly into a four, eight, twelve
or sixteen bar format. These are the most common, some tunes use
other length templates but that is rare, remember that successful
music compositions use even bar lengths.
(b) reduce the chords to numbers, as you do this you make
discover that a song may simply be a eight bar progression
repeated over and over for the duration of the entire piece. This
musical fact would not be obvious if we were looking at several
pages of standard print music using only the alphabetical system
as a guide.
Over time you will be pleasantly surprised to find that many of
the songs you play use the same chord progressions, which makes
it easy to play them by ear (from memory).
Like all aspects of guitar playing it takes time, dedication and
a tremendous amount of perseverance ... but in the long term it's
the best way to learn to play by ear.
The best way to accelerate your guitar playing is to correctly
diagnose a musical problem. Always keep in mind that five minutes
thought is better than five hours haphazard practice.
Case in point: simply working your way through a thick guitar
method book in the hope that your ear will improve, is a lost
Why? Because your eyes can't hear!
No matter how dedicated you are or how many scales you practice
without a organized system of learning specifically designed to
develop your memory and recall nervous system works you will find
that little (if any) progress is made in the playing by ear
You don't have to look very far to find evidence of this, how
many of you know people how have been taking lessons for years
and couldn't play "Happy Birthday" without the sheet music.
Are these people untalented or unmusical?
Certainly not! They have (a) simply not taken the time to develop
their ear or more likely (b) don't know how to develop the ear.
So, let's be clear it's not simply a matter of 'keep practicing
and it will all work out fine".
Make sure you are clear on your musical goals and be certain that
the material you are studying will serve you well.
Learning to play guitar by ear is a gradually accumulative
process, each baby step forward will produce massive results,
take your time and enjoy the journey.
How to Play Guitar
Rave Reviews for Express Guitar:
a student of Mike Hayes since 1999, I have found his teaching methods
and products to be first class. Whatever style or area of music I have
been interested in, he has provided me with useful information, advice
and study materials. His style of teaching and teaching products
enabled me to progress through his guitar course far quicker than I
ever imagined. He also helps in teaching yourself to find and develop
your own style of music. Mike’s teaching gives his
student’s the ability to become useful musicians, not just
Stephen J Reid
Guitarist & Musician
course teaches us how to learn, how to retain, and how to recall
information quickly. This entire program is built around "connected
learning" with key phrases, picture words ( yes there is such a thing )
and the most dynamic personal motivator I have ever had the pleasure of
Ken C Simpson
Business Owner & Guitarist
course is varied, in-depth and well-structured, making learning and
comprehension fast, thorough and enjoyable. It’s a great way of
learning, as you can pace yourself and move onto the next stage when
you feel competent. I find this course both innovative and
inspirational. I find myself leaving Mike’s lessons with the
determination to reach my new goals.
Karl J Ricker
Sunshine Coast, Australia