Encourage auditory ear players to learn independently: Auditory ear players have a great knack for copying music. Sometimes a student struggles and struggles through a piece until the teacher plays the song for them. After just one or two listens of how the song is supposed to sound the student then proceeds to learn the tune quickly (though the rhythm will probably be a little off). I would almost never play anything for an auditory ear player because it will discourage them from reading notes on their own. One of the rare instances that playing for an ear player is acceptable is to demonstrate various “touches” or phrasing that their keen ears can pick up and copy.
Encourage auditory ear players to sight-read: A good way to show students that they can read music is by notating something the student has made up. Usually an ear player will play music that is far more complicated that what they can sight-read. One musician and teacher taught me the following phrase to tell students who struggle with note reading: “If you can play this, you can read music for this.” Students who have good pitch will also have an advantage if they have intervalic reading skills (sight-reading notes by intervals rather than note names). An interesting article on this topic is found on Joy Morin’s website: http://colorinmypiano.com/2013/06/03/the-role-of-intervalic-reading-when-reading-music/. If students see the interval of a third written in their music but their ears hear the interval of a fourth, the students’ ear would be a great advantage to correcting the wrong note.
Encourage auditory ear players to engage in improvisation: Do a duet with students. One example is the teacher playing broken chords (the I, IV and V chord of the key you choose) and the student making up a 5-finger pattern improvisation. After ending the improvisation swap positions and have the student play the chords and the teacher play the melody. This exercise will aid students to have better muscle memory of 5-finger patterns and of chord patterns.
Allow auditory ear players to play their creations: I’ve found that ear players who love creating music enjoy moments to break away from sheet music. Ask these students if they have copied or created anything new during the week. Allow them to play their creation in the last few lesson minutes to encourage the lesson ending on a good note.
If you are a teacher, encourage auditory ear players to use their strengths (ex. improvisation, composition, musicality) and to work on their weaknesses (ex. sight-reading). If you are a parent or student, realize that pitch can improve through practice. Practice playing and singing familiar songs without sheet music and add chords for further practice.
Please note: Certain students have a knack for copying things that they hear but struggle with note-reading. These students are auditory ear players.To learn more about ear players, see the article and the first comment from the article “Ear Players Part 1: Discovering Ear Players.”