Welcome to the Ear Laboratory!
The exercises in the ear lab are intended to build upon the skills introduced in the first 3 modules on learning to play by ear.
As covered there, learning to play by ear is best achieved by breaking the process down into steps: finding the chords, finding the melody, and then taking that foundation to build a banjo tune, using the techniques of fingerstyle banjo to do so, as covered in the video “Creating Fingerstyle Arrangements from Scratch.”
The Ear Laboratory will contain a few resources to assist you in this process.
- Resource #1: The Finding the Melody videos. In these videos, you will be guided through the process of finding the chord progression and melody notes for some classic songs on your banjo, as we did in the primary modules on learning to play by ear. As your experience and skills grow, you can then start trying to build your own banjo song from that foundation.
- Resource #2: The Creating Arrangements from Scratch video series (coming s0on). In this recurring feature, I will regularly post videos in which I take a classic song, and demonstrate the process of turning it into a banjo arrangement, from scratch.
Finding the Melody Videos
In the following videos, your primary task is to find the melody notes of the song.
The video will begin with a vocal version. The lyrics will be displayed, and color coded according to the chord being played so that you may also begin this exercise by trying to find the chord progression (as instructed in the preceding video).
Once the vocal is finished, the answers for the chord progression will be displayed.
You will then hear the melody played through on the banjo, and a visual diagram of the banjo fretboard will be simultaneously displayed. When attempting to find the melody notes on your own banjo, you need only to limit your search to the locations denoted by the orange dots.
Lastly, the melody will be played through one final time, while the melody notes are displayed as black dots on the fretboard, so that you may check your “answers.”
You can toggle through the playlist in the upper left hand corner to select different videos (more to come, so check back periodically for new ones).
Creating Arrangements from Scratch
The Ear Laboratory episodes are conducted monthly live inside the Brainjo “Virtual Classroom.” Click here for the schedule of workshops to come.
- Episode 1 – “Bury Me Beneath the Willow“
- Episode 2 – “Walking Cane“
- Episode 3 – “Oh Susanna” (Feb. 4)
- Episode 4 – “Rocky Top” (Mar. 4)
- many more TBA…