Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

2nd "Ear Only" Song - Tony Rice "Any Old Time"

I slated this winter as a time to work on my ear training. This is the second of around 5 songs that I am forcing myself to learn by ear…and man that diminished run at 0:20 in the vid sure was a tough one for my ear to figure out. I think I have it now.

Thought I bit off more than I could chew with that diminished lick but I spent some time in the woodshed with it for about 6 hours before I could get it up to speed.

Any of you work through this song and that lead break?

Poor vid quality (laptop) but at least the sound didn’t shift an octave when I recorded this time.

RIP in Tony.


Link to song/vid I used for those interested…



One of my favorite songs to pick & sing when I’m hanging with my guitar.

I never did get his guitar down to it…just do mine pretty much.

Nice Job, I’m impressed!


Thanks Dave. If I am not mistaken you posted some audio of you doing this several years back?

Oh I almost gave up on that diminished lick at :20 seconds. I was going to do my own lick there but ultimately thought to myself: “Self you committed to learning by ear so live up to your commitments”. At the end of the day I spent hours upon hours just to get 0:03 seconds of a lick…yep 3 seconds worth of notes nearly broke me.

I will say that me committing to learning these songs by ear only are really helping my playing. I knew about 6 months ago that I needed to develop my ear more and it’s really starting to pay off for me now.


That’s great!

It’s always good to realize you’ve gained something.

I don’t believe I’ve shared any recordings of that song…Most of the Blake/Rice type material I do I do for me and pretty much keep it to myself or a very small group in front of a very late campfire.


That was really great! I’ve done that same type of “by ear” thing (mando), with variable outcomes. Sometimes one TINY portion of a song gives me fits to get it down (without subbing in my own lesser version). But if I do end up getting it, oh what a happy day :grin::tada:


That’s awesome, we all need more very late campfires with music and friends :notes:


Great pickin! If you can learn Tony Rice by ear then you can do anything!


that is not a simple tune, the ear training is paying off, really good !

Oh I’ve gained a lot over the past 4-5 months. Honestly now I am able to hear where everything is going in a song (feeling).

I’m starting to realize that the best way to play these tough licks and breaks up to speed is to first be able to hum or sing the notes of a lick just like one would (and as equally) if they were singing the melody line. We can all sing the intro into “Amazing Grace” on a drop of a hat…so I figured I might as well learn lead breaks and licks by being able to hum the notes (just as if they were their own new melody within the song).

By ear has also showed me how much I actually learned from all the scale practice over the past two years. Now I see all the shapes and positions, recognize where the ever important root note is and where the 3rd and 5th are to bail out to or use. I realize what chord shape I am in and the scale I want to use around that chord shape.

It’s all starting to come together. I’ve always enjoyed playing music…but never have enjoyed it like I am now. I am obsessed w/this stuff and excited about what “secret” I will get to unlock next.


Indeed it is great when you finally get it right!.

Thing about ear training is there’s supposed to be no cheating! Ha ha. That ear tells you every single time that you are wrong.

In a far off galaxy on a planet inhabited by ears with hands is where one finds the pickers. I hope to join them someday.



I am excited about how quickly I can start playing stuff by ear now. This learning curve of mine on guitar has been a linear function for a long time now…feel like it’s moving exponentially now.


Superman! ha ha. Baby ear steps in the right direction.