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For instruments that play chordal accompaniments, this is an incredibly useful skill.
- You do not have to learn to read music to be able to do this, but it is very helpful to know a little bit about music theory so that you can predict which chords are most likely to happen in a song. Try starting with Beginning Harmonic Analysis (Section 5.5).
- Really listen to the chord progressions to the songs you do know. What do they sound like? Play the same progressions in different keys and listen to how that does and also does not change the sound of the progression. Change the bass notes of the chords to see how that changes the sound of the progression to your ears. Change fingerings and chord voicings, and again listen carefully to how that changes the sound to your ears.
- Practice figuring out the chords to familiar songs (that you don't know the chords to). For songs that you do know the chords to, try playing them in an unfamiliar key, or see if you can change or add chords to make a new harmony that still fits the melody.
- A teacher who understands harmony can help tremendously with this particular skill. Even if you don't normally take lessons, you might want to consider having a series of lessons on this. Find a teacher who is willing and able to teach you Specifically about harmony and typical chord progressions.
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