Of course, for me, and my life in general, the term “play it by ear” has more meaning than usual. This rally is a good way to describe my overall approach, which oddly enough may actually be a direct result of my approach to music.
The musical part for me, began so early that it seems as if I never DIDN’T play music! This is of course important when dealing with learning for all of us, and out offspring as well. I can’t emphasize strongly enough the importance of learning at an early age. This impressionable time is so important when learning any language, and after all, this is what music is…another language…one that comes from deep, deep down in out hearts.
The “ear” part is really the most crucial, and I think that those who say they’ll never have an ear are simply holding themselves back. I believe that all of us, as human beings have an innate, built-in ability to acquire this “ear”, which is rally just an ability to learn and recognize the new language of music. Sure, some of us are better at it than others, but I still feel that it can be cultivated and most of all, encouraged at a very early age.
I was playing the violin from the age of 8, and doing very well at it, but it lacked excitement for me, and the training involved became too regimented for me. So, along comes my Dad, the New Yorker cartoonist, Al Ross, who’s a master at all he does, and who taught himself everything about art, and he says to me, “play the guitar, Arlen,,,I just can SEE you playing the guitar!” I still literally get chills when I think of his words, because not only were they so right on the money and prophetic, but they had so much love and understanding and perceptiveness to them!
He would love to listen to Flamenco guitar records around the apartment in the Bronx, and I was already absorbing all this wonderful guitar, probably from before I can even remember! This was all drummed into my soul, and therefore my ear as well, and before you knew it, I was playing slide guitar with my Mom’s lipstick holders on a guitar we had that only had 2 strings! Once I got my hands on the real thing however, all bets were off, and I knew that from the minute I held her in my arms, the guitar was to become a lifetime love for me!
Check out ARLEN ROTH'S LESSON OF THE DAY