by ear

by ear

1. Without referencing sheet music or a recording. Refers to the ability to play a piece of music. Wow, George is such a talented piano player! The way he can play pieces by ear after hearing them just once is so impressive!
2. By extension, in an improvised or flexible way. Typically used in the phrase "play it by ear." A: "Are we meeting at noon on Saturday?" B: "Around then. I have to run some errands in the morning, so let's play it by ear."
See also: by, ear
References in periodicals archive ?
Otitis externa has many different causes, including allergies, bacterial or yeast infections, or infestation by ear mites.
Ear canker (the condition caused by ear mites) can hit the very best and cleanest of herds if proper preventive measures aren't taken.