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Hi, all my playing has always been done by reading music sheets, what is the best way to progress to playing by ear, I struggle as soon as I move away from the written music, any suggestions please.
 

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From what i've read and practiced the best way i've found is by doing just that: Drop the sheets and try to play a song from memory.
When i'm playing without sheets i try to play the song in my head and my fingers follow my brain's lead.
That or you could get a tutorial book from a music shop.
 

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Are you talking about listening to recorded artists and playing back what you hear or are we talking about learning from sheet music and memorizing music? Both are going to take time and practice but memorizing from sheet music can be a lot easier than hearing it and playing it back.
 

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The important thing is to learn to analyse the melody, loook for the way a short melodic fragment might develop, or be repeated with some changes.

e.g. Blue Moon:

The melody with the words "You saw me standing alone" is a fragment that then gets repeated but a (diatonic) third lower.

Autumn Leaves, same principle but one step (diatonically) lower.

You will find loads of things like this in many many pieces of music, and once you recognise them you don't need to learn every bit note by note.

Even remembering vague melodic contours can be very helpful. It is also useful to learn music theory, ie the way chords and functional harmony work.
 

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Hi, all my playing has always been done by reading music sheets, what is the best way to progress to playing by ear, I struggle as soon as I move away from the written music, any suggestions please.
Remember this: The more you do it the easier it will become and you will be able to it more quickly and accurately. Just do it!
 

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Yes to all the above. Just do it. If you can hear it in your head you will be fine after a bit...
 

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1 Learn the song form: AABA, ABAB, AAB, blues, 16 bar, etc
2 Learn to sing the melody by ear
3 Memorize the chords

If you can do these 3 simple things, you'll be able to play the melody by ear without too much trouble.
 

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+1 A knowledge of the chords. That way, if you can't quite remember the melody note(s), then you can play substitutes from the chords (and their scales). You will never hit a bum note and you'll be well on the way to improvisation.
 

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1 Learn the song form: AABA, ABAB, AAB, blues, 16 bar, etc
2 Learn to sing the melody by ear
3 Memorize the chords

If you can do these 3 simple things, you'll be able to play the melody by ear without too much trouble.
And of course that's what you need to know to improvise on the tune. I do think you can learn and memorize a melody without knowing the chords, etc, but without knowing the chords and song form it will be difficult to create your own melody.

One thing for sure, at least in my own case, is once I really learn a tune without any sheet music in front of me, I can play it much better since I'm using my ears instead of my eyes. I also have the melody and sound of the chord progression internalized so I can play it with a lot more authority. I don't know if this is true for everyone, but I suspect it's pretty common.
 

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One thing for sure, at least in my own case, is once I really learn a tune without any sheet music in front of me, I can play it much better since I'm using my ears instead of my eyes. I also have the melody and sound of the chord progression internalized so I can play it with a lot more authority. I don't know if this is true for everyone, but I suspect it's pretty common.

Same here. It's so bad for me that I end up never really learning a tune if I have the sheet music in my face. Usually I just learn without it or use it as a quick reference if there's a question.
 

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You want to get your brain to respond so that what you hear in your head comes out of your horn. Be sure you can sing the tune and know it. Start with simple songs like folks songs, happy birthday, etc. Play it multiple times, changing the starting pitch so you end up playing it in various keys. Get your ear to hear the relationship, shape and contours of the tune and distances of the pitches. After a while it should feel natural.
 

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before you play anything, sing it! even if you're not a good singer, you will naturally phrase things differently with your voice. when you do a transcription for example (by which i mean learn a recorded solo), first be able to sing it by heart, then play it on your horn, THEN write it down (if you want).

try to sing a phrase and then play it on your horn. you can do this with aebersolds too.
 

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I'd say a super easy way to train your ear is to join a choir. I'd been singing a solid 3 years before I started playing saxophone and it's been a huge supporting factor of my progress thus far. The process of hearing something played, then singing it back, is an invaluable skill.
 
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