When playing an instrument, do you play using sheet music, or by ear?

By sheets or by ear? Which one?

  • I play by ear

    Votes: 6 26.1%
  • I use sheet music

    Votes: 9 39.1%
  • I don't play an instrument

    Votes: 4 17.4%
  • Depends

    Votes: 4 17.4%

  • Total voters
    23

Soundless Voice

Star Spirit
Banned User
When you play an instrument (Piano, flute, trumpet, etc.), do you use sheet music or by ear?

Playing by ear is when you teach yourself, by hearing other people play, or listening to the song you're trying to play.

Playing by sheet music is looking at a staff of notes and playing what you see.

I prefer playing the piano by ear because I have to look at the notes as I play so I can't look at the sheet music and it just comes naturally to me.
 

Raven Effect

That's what I call hamburgers
Core 'Shroom Staff
Retired Wiki Staff
When I play an instrument Beethoven himself descends from the Heavens and plays with me
 

Bop1996

Power Star
Retired Wiki Staff
i only play with sheet music
 

Mariomario64

Shine Sprite
It depends on whether I just want to play a song for fun or if it's [school] band-related. If it's band-related, I'll play it off the sheets whenever I can. If it's just playing for fun, if I can find sheet music for the song and for the instrument I want to play it on, I'll play off of that, although I might fix it a bit if it sounds off to me. If I can't find the right sheets, then I just figure it out on my own.
 

Stooben Rooben

Star Spirit
Chat Administrator
Retired Wiki Staff
By ear, for every instrument. I enjoy deciphering the notes myself.

Though I am capable of reading sheet music and tablature as well.
 

MCS

Donkey Kong
I play keyboard by ear. I used to use sheet music when I took piano lessons for several years, but when I stopped taking piano lessons, I forgot how to read sheet music, so I just learn by ear now, which isn't too hard really.

As for drums, I obviously don't read sheet music for drums (yes, drums do have sheet music) but I instead mainly improvise over CDs and music that I own. I'm not too shabby at it.
 

Master Crash

The Dragon of the West
Chat Operator
The times I've tried to play guitar or keyboard (which have been very poor attempts) I've done it by ear, but unlike Stooby I'm incapable of reading sheet music and tablature.
 

Ray Trace

You Can Tick Off Birds If You Follow My Advice
I have to use sheet music. I am very terrible by ear.
 

Soundless Voice

Star Spirit
Banned User
Besides Crash, am I literally the only one who can't read sheet music and plays by ear who's posted here?
 

Ray Trace

You Can Tick Off Birds If You Follow My Advice
That's because most of us humans are visual learners, not auditory
 

Soundless Voice

Star Spirit
Banned User
Oops. I forgot. :-[

@BLOF: I guess I'm just an audible learner because I listen to music a lot more.
 

Guiliant

Shine Sprite
Sheet music.
 

Pokemon DP

God I'm good at being an owl
Retired Wiki Staff
Only learning basics right now, so I learn from tabs. My teacher hopes to teach me both sheet music and playing by ear somewhere down the track.
 

Yoshiwaker

Star Spirit
I can play by ear some, definitely better on trumpet than on trombone though, since I'm still not too used to playing trombone.
 

Dr. Javelin

Nathan Latsk
Sheet music generally. It's not that I can't play stuff by ear, and I do play some stuff that way (random Zelda ocarina songs that I've figured out, scales and chromatic scale), but I just don't have the time to memorize it. Or maybe I'm lazy. Probably both.
 

Garlic Man

Name-change free since 2018
Dr. Javelin said:
chromatic scale
yeah i'm pretty sure nobody needs sheet music for that
 

Dr. Javelin

Nathan Latsk
Christian Brutal Sniper said:
Dr. Javelin said:
chromatic scale
yeah i'm pretty sure nobody needs sheet music for that
It's funny to imagine that someone somewhere is probably reading the chromatic scale sheet music and going "i can never play this, it's way too many notes".
 

Garlic Man

Name-change free since 2018
especially on piano
 
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