Is it better to learn music by ear or by reading sheet music?

One of the frequently asked questions is whether it is better to learn music by ear, or by reading sheet music.

And it is normal to have this concern, since it is common to see on the Internet, for example, people who play songs by ear; that they know the names of the notes and how they sound, which could imply a certain facility to play an instrument.

However, they cannot recognize them on the staff, so they also have no experience in reading/writing music.

They are only guided by sound to play an instrument.

 Will this be enough?

To know the answer, let’s see how relevant it is, for a correct musical learning, to train the ear and know how to read scores.

The importance of the ear in musical learning

Let’s start with the basics: learning by ear is a great skill that every student should include in their musical training.

Even playing an instrument by ear is considered an important facet of music, which must be developed.

Therefore, this learning should not be detracted from, because it is an important aspect of musical training.

However, we must emphasize that learning to play a musical instrument only by ear would be very limited.


Because music is a language and as such, it offers you reading and writing as tools to fully and accurately understand the creations of composers, something that contributes significantly to your training as a musician.

Playing an instrument only by ear is similar to learning a language that is spoken in a locality, but that lacks reading and writing:

Its inhabitants understand it and communicate well with each other, but they have no way of expressing their thoughts, for example, in letters or in a book.

They also cannot produce a script, poetry; a play, or many other creations that can be captured through writing.

Even future generations would miss out on a lot of cultural richness, by not having a means to accurately record their legacy and share it over time.

With this example you can get an idea of ​​how much you would be losing by not learning to read music.

The contribution of musical reading

If you really want to learn and enjoy all the benefits of playing an instrument and the breadth of resources that music offers, learning by ear is not enough.

If you want to progress in music, it is vital to learn to read sheet music.

When in addition to recognizing the notes by ear you can read and write them, you have in your hands the opportunity to enrich your musical knowledge much more, because you can:

Interpret on your instrument what others have written.

Make your own compositions and share them with more people.

Leave a cultural mark on your environment.

A legacy with your creations, which can be captured in the best way with the knowledge of musical writing.

That is, by learning to read and write music, you open the doors to a richer and more complete learning, with the satisfaction of taking advantage of all the tools that this beautiful art offers you.

A complete program to learn music

An optimal program to learn an instrument should offer the development of skills, such as auditory training, accompanied by a correct technique (practice) and of course, the learning of theory, which is vital for reading scores.

This is precisely what we teach our students at Art & Harmony, aware of the importance of your child having all the tools for true musical learning.

Knowing the musical language in all its extension, your little one will have a wide variety of resources available to improve their technique, interpret musical pieces by the main composers and enjoy their favorite songs.

You will even have the ability to make your own compositions, developing your creativity to the fullest.

Reading music even allows you to make arrangements: for example, take a song and raise its level of difficulty; or make it easy, so that even a small child can play it.

In short, there is much more versatility to learning musical note reading, but this should also be complemented by good ear training, so that your little one gets the most out of studying their favorite musical instrument.

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