A new study by yougov.com puts some numbers on something we've been doing at WillYouLearn since the beginning.
"People who generally play by ear (without reading sheet music) are more likely to say that playing music “does come naturally” to them (56%) than ... by reading sheet music (35%)."
You can find the full results of their survey here. All in all it's promising news for the future of music education.
Our mission at WYL is to help you "make music your own." We help our students learn to listen and absorb music until playing an instrument becomes as natural as speaking with their own voice. The way to do this is by first developing the ear.
In music, your ear is your most indispensable ally. When we're young, our ears tell us if music is good or bad, if a note sounds right or wrong. As we age, our ears evolve to embrace nuanced interests. The ear is the reason a particular harmony can send shivers down our spines, a rhythm prompts foot-tapping, and a melody brings tears. The ear is the passage to our unfiltered musical selves.
Parents often ask me if working on ear training goes against learning to read music. The answer is that the two things go hand in hand. In the same way we learn both to speak and to read in a given language, learning to read music requires the ear to translate the notes and symbols on the page into sounds in your head, and then into sounds on your instrument. In the words of Erroll Garner "no one can hear you read."