Friday, October 26, 2007

How to learn to read music without it taking forever

I read this in an article on the web:

"Sight reading is the act of reading and playing a piece of music before having ever seen it: on sight. This technique is a vital one for musicians to learn. Being skilled in sight reading makes reading a piece of music easier; the musician doesn't have to labor over every note and re-teach themselves the common patterns. Sight reading, after a decent amount of practice, becomes like second nature."

Well, nice, but not quite.

Sure -- it's great to be able to do that, but about 99% of working musicians CAN'T do that -- including me, so don't feel bad if you're one of us. (I can sight-read most printed music, but there's plenty of complicated scores that take me lots of time to master.)

For the classical musician it is imperative to be able to sight-read well, but for most pop and gospel and rock musicians, something less is usually quite adequate. Why? Because in pop and folks and gospel and rock and jazz, musicians don't usually play a song as it is written anyway. Instead, they use the sheet music as a "map" to give them the general directions of a song, then by adding their own skills to it create something much more exciting than the usual piece of sheet music.

All a pop musician really needs is a knowledge of chords and some music theory, then an overview of how reading music works. After all, music is made of melody, harmony, and rhythm, so you can get a fairly clear picture of reading music as a whole in just a short time.

You won't be great at reading music, of course, but you'll get the idea, and you can develop your sight-reading skills lots more as you go along. That's what I call "coming in through the back door."

Can you learn to read music in just a few hours?
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