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UKE SCIENCE: The Eyes vs. The Ears

Posted on: June 20th, 2011 by dville

Is is better to learn music by ear or by reading it off of a piece of paper?  From a basic scientific perspective, it would seem that information gathered by the ear reaches its destination in the brain through a less complex series of events.  


When light hits the eye’s retina, a photo-chemical reaction takes place setting off a chain of complicated events which convert the light to electrical impulses which then travel through the optic nerve and to the visual cortex at the back of the brain.  All that activity to look at sheet music. But no music.


As we know, hearing is an entirely different process.  Sound waves enter the ear, activate the ear-drum (already more musical sounding) and the vibrations are converted to electrical impulses the brain “hears” as sounds.

Use your ears as the first point of contact when learning something new on the ukulele.  If it’s a song, find a recording and listen to it a few times until you know the melody and/or the chord changes.  I’m not saying never to use sheet music.  What I’m saying is don’t become dependent on it. 

Free your eyes and use your ears.  Your musical experience will be enhanced dramatically.

3 Responses

  1. mikeplaysukulele says:

    With the uke, it's usually faster to try to figure things out by ear first, since there are so few tabs out there. That's my approach to covering songs.

  2. Yesterukes says:

    Excellent!

  3. Connor says:

    They are, nevertheless, of zero reward if
    a participant isn’t watchful enough to completely take advantage of these.

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