Monday, July 6, 2009

Spilling the Beans, Part Two - More on Music Reading

Last time we talked a bit about some of the secrets
that go into our Instant Piano seminars, and why the
method is effective. One such secret is the fact that
our method reduces the emphasis on note reading. And
that, I believe, requires some further clarification.
Namely:

1) There is nothing wrong with knowing how to read
music.
2) Knowing how to read music will enhance your
musicianship at almost every level.
3) Reading music can be a shortcut to learning.
4) But there is a steep learning curve.
5) And it can also be a crutch.

I believe that for popular music of all kinds, learning
to play by ear is superior to note reading. And the
worst part is that using your note reading skills, if
you have them, can suppress the development of your
ear.

Look at it this way. As a piano player (or as a
potential piano player) what's more important to you?
Creating beautiful music? Or demonstrating your reading
skills? They aren't the same skill, especially the
farther you get away from classical music.

With a lot of classical veterans, reading the music
notation quickly, accurately, skillfully seems to be a
larger concern than making the piano sound good. I
remember being caught in the trap in my younger days.
Then I learned I could listen to a piece of music and
start to recreate it. I began to rely on listening more
and more.

I found that when I came back from a piano lesson,
having the lesson recorded on a cassette tape was much
more valuable than what the teacher wrote down on a
piece of music paper. And that's one of the major
points I try to get across at my workshops.

Maybe we'll revisit this subject at a later time, but
in the mean time, if you have a question, comment or an
observation about reading versus listening, please
click on "comments" below.

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