Stephen King, in his autobiography, "On Writing," told of how his son would practice his musical instrument every day, as he was told to, and at the end of his assigned time, put the instrument away in its case and went and did something else. Even though he played well and progressed in his lessons, King knew that his son was not a musician, because he didn't play for the fun of it, he didn't play unless it was the designated practice time.
I relied on sheet music, because I wasn't familiar with a lot of songs. We had one radio station in my little town, and the selection was eccentric, and my mom's records, while I enjoyed listening to them from time to time, I didn't enjoy them enough to listen to them long enough to have the songs stuck in my head. I taught myself a few television theme songs, while my dad wanted me to play the Bird from "Peter and the Wolf." Which I was vaguely familiar with, but not enough.
There was nothing stopping Mike from playing by ear. All he had to do, like countless others before him, was to take his horn and go play it, on his own. At his age, the lessons' main points would be to teach him how to finger notes. He could have learned how to play instead of blat, but he didn't want to learn. Like a lot of other kids, he thought that it would come naturally, and he wouldn't have to work at it. And his parents expected the same.
I knew that once I could read music, I could play any sheet music, and for a while, my parents bought me easy to read Christmas song books, and sheet music of their favorite songs for me to play, and the music book for my favorite record (Simon and Garfunkle's Greatest Hits). I saw no such encouragement from the martyred Patterson parents. As for me, after decades of not playing, I've taken up the electronic keyboard, and am now trying to get back to where I left off. I got the Christmas song book back, but--alas!--the S & G book got lost in a move and hasn't been seen since.