In this video, Nate Bosch from PianoLessons.com shows viewers how to play "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" by ear. This simple song is built around the G-major scale and the chords D and G.
For those that are not familiar with a "scale", Nate explains that it is 8 notes all in a row on the keyboard or piano: do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, and back to do. The do to do is called an octave.
It is explained in the video that when you try to figure out a song in order to play it by ear, the best way to do that is to sing it.
If you do this, you will notice that "Row, row, row your boat" goes up the scale and is the first 5 notes of the G-major scale.
"Gently down the stream" goes up then down then back up. "Stream" completes the octave and that note is G an octave higher than the G that we started with.
We then go up another octave, or 8 notes to begin "merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily". If you listen closely, the notes go back down the scale.
"Life is but a dream" sends the notes back down to end with the original G that began the song.
When you are comfortable with the left hand, it is time to add in chords with the right. A "chord" is the high and low point of an octave, for example, low G and high G, which would be the G chord.
When the left hand begins "row, row, row your boat", play G chord with right hand. G chord again with "gently down the stream". "merrily, merrily" brings a D chord, "merrily, merrily" brings another D chord and we finish up with "life is but a dream" and a final G chord.
It takes a little time and practice, but the viewer will be able to play the whole song in no time.