4 Steps to Playing A Melody By Ear


Note: there are a few concepts in this lesson that are gone over and greater detail in the Playing By Ear for Piano Chords Course. If you haven’t done that yet, I’d recommend doing that to really improve in this area.

A great way to get started playing a melody by ear with chords is to play through the chords first. This will give you an idea of the speed and rhythm.

Next, find where to start. What’s your starting note?

What key are you in?

When we play the melody, we want it to be the top line, heard over everything else. But remember, it doesn’t need to be perfect and you don’t need to get all the notes in.

Step 1

Learn or figure out the melody first. Get used to playing it. Let it become pretty comfortable and familiar.

Step 2

Play the chords in the left hand while playing the melody in the right hand. Is everything lining up correctly?

Step 3

Play the chords and melody in the right hand.

Remember here that we want melody to be the top line. So the chords and notes from the chords need to fall below the melody. This is when you start wanted to use inversions of a chords. (More on inversions soon.)

Step 4

Play the bass line for the chords in the left hand while playing the melody and chords in the right hand.

Once you get really comfortable here, you can start filling in, using more rhythm and making your left hand sound more interesting.


Pick a few songs you know well that have a simple melody. Grab the chords sheets for those and then take them through the four step method. More details on this in your exercise download in the materials tab.