Words of the Week – play it by ear
Play it by Ear (image: gari.baldi)
To play it by ear means to approach a situation without a plan, and let events unfold naturally. Playing it by ear doesn’t happen often in the US, especially in business, because a lot of Americans plan everything they do from careers to meetings to social events. However, students tend to manage time in a more fluid manner. You might hear someone say, “There are three events I’m interested in attending tomorrow at lunch: the H1-B visa guidelines, the Marketing Club brown bag, and the Adventure Club introduction to white water rafting. I’m not sure which one is going to be the most valuable; so I’m just going to play it by ear.”
The term originates from the world of music. When a person plays a musical piece without referencing the sheet music, it’s called playing by ear.