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Dobro Lessons: How To Learn Songs By Ear

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Man that
Let's talk a little bit about how we might
learn a song by ear.
Obviously, if we're learning a musical
instrument, we love music,
we love to listen to it and, learning
songs by ear is great practice.
It's how I leaned how to play really.
And, it gives you access to a ton of
So I'm gonna help give you a few tools,
to help you be able to figure out the key
a song is in, maybe with the scale is,
and a few other tricks to help you learn a
The first thing that I like to do, when I
hear a song that I like, and I think boy,
I might like to learn that song, is I
listen to the song.
If you know a song in your head and can
hum it,
that's gonna be the quickest way for you
to get in to figuring out how to play it.
If you think of songs like Happy Birthday
or Jingle Bells,
or things, songs that are really just
engrained into your head,
they're a lot easier to learn on the Dobro
because you know what they sound like.
So when I am telling somebody how to learn
a song, the first thing I say is,
listen to it a bunch of times.
If you're enjoying it, and you like it
that much.
Listen to it a few times over and over,
maybe try and even hum it.
If you can hum a melody it's gonna make it
a lot easier for you to play it.
So I listen to the song a few times and
get to be able to sort of hum the melody.
The next thing you want to do, once you
sort of have the song in your head,
is you want to try and find out the key.
So let's get that song going and I'll I'll
show you how I
might go about finding the key of the song
all right we hear the song playing.
So what I might do, start on the low
Well that's.
That's not it.
Kinda work my way up.
There it is.
So usually I use the low string to find
the key.
In this case, it's in the key of D.
As I say I'll hear the song playing and
just use that low string.
And it'll become real clear to you when
you've hit the right spot.
So okay, well now I know it's in the key
of D.
Another easy thing you can determine about
a song is if it's major or minor.
Now we haven't talked about minor scales
But you know what they sound like.
It's a sad sound.
This song obviously does not have the sad
It's a, it's a [SOUND] very upbeat happy
sound, so
you know it's gonna be a major scale.
So, you've got the key, D, [SOUND] and you
know it's in a major scale.
So, you're well on your way.
To getting the parameters you need, you
know how to learn the song.
The one last thing that you wanna learn is
how the melody goes.
And so, what I'll do is,
when I hear a melody,
it's generally, if it's in a major key,
it's gonna start on one of three different
If you bar your D chord,.
You've got three notes right there.
And then
the same three again.
So you know it's, the melody is gonna
start on one of those three notes, and
probably be focused on one of those three
So if I've gotten to where I can hum the
[SOUND] I can find that note.
It's the D note.
So there we go.
We've also got this open D down here.
So now we know sort of where the focus of
the melody is, the key.
And whether it's major or minor.
Now from there,
this tune's moving along pretty fast.
You might choose a slower song to learn,
I've got the key and
I've got the the timbre, whether it's
major or minor, and
where the melody's focused.
Well, that's going to give me a really
good start in
trying to figure out the melody
So the one last thing you wanna know is
you know where the melody begins
it's on this D note but where, where's the
lowest note or the highest note.
So you get your sort of your range so it
sounded to
me sort of like it was like this
so I know this note is sort of the lowest
part of the melody.
And this note is the highest part of the
So it's all right in here in this D-major
So that gives me all the tools I need.
After that, it's going to be just a little
bit of repetition and work.
To discover the exact melody.
But that's gonna get you really close, and
if you are in a jam session, or
just wanting to, sort of, Dobro-ify the
that's gonna give you most of what you
need to get that done.
So, you wanna figure out the key, and I do
that with the low string.
Kind of.
Fish around until you, you hear it line
Figure out if it's major or minor.
And then decide what note the melody
starts and ends on.
If you get all that, you're gonna be well
on your way.