Music is like a language. And we all know that learning languages comes easier when you’re a child. And in some ways, it’s much easier for a child to learn music, especially to learn how to play by ear. Putting two and two together, you might ask yourself what is the difference between an adult and a child that makes it easier for the child to learn languages?
The answer comes in dynamic skill theory. I bring this up again and again because I get a lot of emails from students who are learning how to train their ears and they all have similar challenges. They are not willing to silence their critical “adult” voice and just play with music.
Students will tell me they need a more grounded approach (more mature). Or they will tell me it must be step-by-step (completely abstract). Sometimes they tell me that they won’t gain anything from an exercise after only reading about the exercise (how would they know?).
You can’t skip stages of development. You have to begin at the sensorimotor stage, progress through the representational stage, and then you can arrive at the abstract level. It can’t work backwards.
If you’re asking an abstract question when you need to begin from the beginning, I might refer you to this post. Don’t make the mistake of working backwards when learning new skills. It just makes your journey longer and more difficult.