You Can Learn to Play by Ear with “New Ears Resolution”

New Ears Resolution has helped hundreds of musicians learn to play by ear over the past 15 years. And now, the Second Edition offers scores of new innovations designed to make your learning experience more enjoyable, effective, and thorough.

Download “New Ears Resolution” for just $9.99.  Click here.

OR   Purchase the physical book and CD via PayPal for just $19.99 plus shipping.  Click here.

Whether you work with a jazz combo, rock group, or big band, or just play for your own pleasure, “New Ears Resolution” will help you become the musician you have always wanted to be.

i’ve taught this method for years and have used it in my own performances.  i’ve researched extensively in order to improve its design and have thus developed a comprehensive approach to the art of playing by ear.


“New Ears Resolution” is a hands-on method. Learn to play by ear by playing, rather than studying abstract theory! It’s fun, and it’s practical.

The audio contains 26 enjoyable play-along tracks in many different styles: swing, bossa, bop, rock, folk, country, jazz waltz, ballad, and fusion.

The 78-page book includes charts for each of the 26 exercises along with clear, simple instructions and lots of handy tips on how to succeed on the gig or in the jam session.


Learn to use these scales:

  • Major
  • Natural Minor
  • Harmonic Minor
  • Melodic Minor
  • Blues Scale
  • Extended Blues Scale

Learn to use the following modes:

  • Ionian
  • Dorian
  • Phrygian
  • Lydian
  • Mixolydian
  • Aeolian
  • Locrian

Learn to improvise over these chords:

  • Triads
  • Major Sevenths
  • Dominant Sevenths
  • Minor Sevenths
  • Minor 7 Flat 5 (Half Diminished)
  • V7(b9)
  • sus b9
  • V7#9(#5)
  • Diminished
  • Augmented

Learn how to navigate key changes (modulations) smoothly and effortlessly.

Learn techniques for improvising.

Learn about harmonic context.

Understand how to play over these progressions:

  • The ii-V-I progression
  • The I-vi-ii-V progression
  • The 12-bar blues progression

Learn the art of melody embellishment.

Learn how to play polytonal passages.

Master rhythm and learn to swing!

Click here to purchase “New Ears Resolution using

Only $19.99 plus $6 shipping ($10 international)

You can also download the New Ears Resolution course from FastSpring for only $9.99USD.  Click here for details.logo-fastspring-sm


How do i know? Because I have taught over 100 musicians to do it over the past 15 years. These are musicians of all ages and levels of ability on various instruments, and you can be one of them.

Playing by ear is a thrilling experience. With this skill, your instrument can reproduce any song you can whistle or imagine, in any key. You can write down melodies while sitting on an airplane, without consulting a piano. How is this wonderful feat accomplished?

There are two ways a person plays by ear. Either you are born with perfect pitch or you learn to play by ear using relative pitch.

One in 10,000 people is born with perfect pitch. These rare individuals can hear any note and tell you what that note is. Some folks say perfect pitch can be learned, but I am very skeptical of these claims.

Relative pitch – by contrast – is the ability to name any note once you have been given a reference pitch. You figure out the second note by calculating its distance from the given note. I can teach you to do this.

In order to improvise, you must be able to transfer any melody you hear (on the radio, in your memory, or in your imagination) to your fingers and your instrument.

How do You Do It?

My “New Ears Resolution” ear training method is based on the “movable Do” system as elaborated by my teacher, Alvin Learned. Al was Dean of the legendary Westlake School of Jazz, which trained many of the leading Los Angeles musicians of the 1950’s, including Paul Desmond, Les McCann, and Billy May.

By playing along with the “New Ears” audio tracks, you learn to discern the relative position of various notes in a scale, and you become adept at finding any scale degree on your instrument in any key. The difference this makes in your playing is immediate & dramatic!

Visualize two typists, one laboriously “hunting & pecking” for each letter, the other effortlessly “touch typing,” spinning out error-free paragraphs. Now imagine two musicians, one painstakingly searching for each note (by trial & error), the other soaring through a melody as if it had been carefully memorized.

A very talented and ambitious young student told me he was trying to memorize one tune per week in all 12 keys. I responded, “That sounds like a mountain of work, and it will take you 10 years to build a repertoire!”

When you play a song by ear, you do NOT memorize the sheet music. Rather, you hear the tune in your imagination, calculate the tune’s formula in real time, and translate the formula into actual notes in any desired key on your instrument, also in real time.

This may sound like it would consume a staggering amount of brain power, but the process becomes amazingly simple, once you have worked through the exercises contained in the “New Ears Resolution” package. The 26 exercises on the CD (or mp3 download) start out quite simply and grow increasingly complex as your ability and confidence grow.

You will play along with the 72-minute audio a minimum of three times.

  • The first time, you read through the charts given in the “New Ears” book while you play along with the audio track. This also helps refine your sight reading ability.
  • The second time, you play along with the recording without looking at the book. You are now playing the exercises by ear. This increases your confidence.
  • The third time through, you improvise variations as you play along with the recording. This builds your improvisatory vocabulary.

While this method is primarily designed to teach you to play by ear in all 12 keys, many other benefits are derived from practicing with the “New Ears” recording.

  • Your sight reading grows stronger.
  • Your tone develops.
  • Your intonation improves.
  • Your rhythmic sense increases.
  • You begin to develop an improvisational vocabulary.
  • Your confidence blossoms.

While the majority of my students incorporate the “New Ears Resolution” ear training method within a series of 12 or more one-hour private lessons, scores of self-motivated students have found they can learn on their own from the book & audio tracks.

The brand new, comprehensively redesigned Second Edition answers numerous questions which more than a hundred students have asked me over the past 15 years.  Its 26 audio tracks and 78-page book are packed with helpful tips to prepare you for the gig & the jam session.

Students who encounter questions or road blocks along the way need only send me an email, and the issue will be promptly addressed.

Click here to purchase “New Ears Resolution using


Only $19.99 plus $6 shipping ($10 international)

You can also download the New Ears Resolution course from FastSpring for only $9.99USD.  Click here for details.logo-fastspring-sm

7 thoughts on “You Can Learn to Play by Ear with “New Ears Resolution”

  1. I have played the saxophone for some time now (started back in middle school and have played off and on ever since, I’m 29 now). Over the past year I have picked up my sax more determined to improve my playing. Since playing the sax I was tied down to playing off of sheet music, I wasn’t able to hear a song and pick up the notes that were being played. I decided that I wanted to learn how to play by ear. So I began looking on the internet for some material to help me accomplish this task. I was having a hard time finding something that actually trained you on how to play by ear. I did find a couple of books on improvisation but much of the material was very complicated. Then one day while searching the internet I found New Ears Resolution. At first I was skeptical about it and wasn’t sure that it would work for me. I tried to find some reviews on it, and in the end decided to try it out. That was one of the best decisions I made. Probably after listening through the CD two times I was able to pick up the notes I heard on songs and was able to play along. The material was very simple and easy to understand and helped me tremendously. If you want to learn how to play by ear I would definitely recommend New Ears Resolution for any level saxophone player.


  2. Greetings,
    If the book “New Ears Resolution” is purchased via paypal is the PDF with all the materials included as well or is this just the mp3’s?


    1. Greetings Rich,
      There are 2 ways to purchase “New Ears Resolution.” The offering from PayPal includes a physical CD and 76-page physical book delivered to your door via USPS. The FastSpring download is a “zip file” containing the entire book as a pdf file as well as all 26 of the etudes as 26 mp3 files. Either way, you will receive the entire package.
      craig buhler


  3. dear Craig,

    I bought ‘New Ears Resolution’ a coupla days ago. It’s more like a new ears revolution for me. Absolutely brilliant!

    Just one suggestion/request — it would be great to see sol-fa rendition of the tune of jazz standard so that your readers could see how you might sketch the key modulations in solfa in a practical way.

    For now, I’m carrying on with the book and with your latest article on 7b9 chords.

    Thanks for all your work and generous articles.




    1. Thank you, Jeff. It is so gratifying to know that “New Ears Resolution” is helping you. Having listened to recordings of your band, one is aware that your ability is already formidable. It will be exciting to watch this new chapter in your development unfold.
      I have often thought about offering complete versions of standards translated into a solfeggio notation, as my teacher, Alvin Learned, used to give to me. There is some concern about copyright issues. However, having considered your suggestion, I will go ahead and publish a solfeggio version of a standard soon and hope that the publisher will understand that my offering is educational in nature.


  4. Hello Craig i have bought your book today and i have questions. First, is it a good idea to learn your system on the instrument (my saxophone)? I mean with the Do movable? Because i always have patterns licks songs transpose.
    And can you explain the process to quickly learn and analyse a song with the method “Why Is This Tune So Hard To Memorize? ” Thank you very much!


    1. Hello Jean,
      Yes, i strongly recommend that you go through the “New Ears Resolution” book and CD on your saxophone. “New Ears” is a “hands-on” method. You learn by doing it. It develops what i call “hand-ear coordination.” You can also sing along with the CD or play the chords and melody on the piano or guitar. I have just updated the post you refer to (“why is this tune so hard to memorize?“) Please check out the post again and see if the answer to your question becomes more clear now.


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