Playing by ear - Some introductory 'pointers' (in no particular order)
1. The term 'playing by ear' is the everyday term for ''Learning a tune by ear and playing it from memory''. It is therefore quite logical that before attempting to play a tune you must be able to hum, whistle or sing it! It is also logical to start with tunes that are already stored in the head rather than trying to learn a new tune to play. i.e. separate the process of learning a tune (memory) and playing it (instrumental technique).
2. Those completely unfamiliar with the piano keyboard will need a keyboard chart ( off the internet or any piano or accordion tutor book) . Those unfamiliar with accordion bass layout will need to download a bass chart from the internet. Those who have not 'put on' an accordion before will benefit from advice on how to adjust straps use air button, control bellows etc etc. This forum is there to answer such questions so feel free to ask!
3. Don't worry about playing a tune in a particular key. Instead concentrate on learning the scale of C and using it initialy for all tunes. Anybody already playing the accordion from the dots but wishing , additionaly,to learn to play by ear will of course be able to use a veriety of keys and should of course do so.
4. We now come to a fundamental difference between learning to play from the dots and learning to play by ear. If reading the dots you will quite rightly start a tune at the beginning - where else!. If learning 'by ear' you can start anywhere in the tune i.e. play the bits that are going round in you head i.e. little jingles. you can then gradually build up the tune rather like adding pieces to a jigsaw. Also don't worry too much about making mistakes, just keep going as far as you can and skim over your mistakes (they can be rectified later)
This technique of learning a tune piecemeal is used in folk musicians sessions where it is customery for a tune to be played at least three times through. Those who don't know the tune may pick up the odd note first time through, a few more second time through and maybe some decent chunks third time through. Next time they come across 'that ' tune being played they have a good start and my even have found it on a CD and had a good listen and play at home!
5. ''Poking and Proding''. A great many tunes use a relatively small number of different notes and the next note is often not far away from the one before so to speak. Many tunes also start on the 'keynote' eg the note C if playing in the key of C. So try a simple little tune eg the saints go marching in. It starts on the keynote i.e. C so play C, then try to find the next note by pocking and prodding. (its next but one higher i.e E) then prod out the rest of the notes .
That's enough for now as I am not going to attempt to write a tutor book ( my melodeon tutor book took 2 years to get right) . I will however return shortly with a simple explanation of how the bass works and one or two other matters.
Don't put the box away, keep it somewhere handy and get into the habit of picking it up a few times a day if only for 5 or 10 minutes. This is much more useful than setting aside an hour on Sunday . Something will crop up to prevent it and the same may happen the week after and then the box is left to fester in a cupboard!
Listen, experiment and poke and prod