Sunday, August 29, 2010

One day many years ago I proposed teaching my daughter to read music; she was about eight at the time. It made sense as I was teaching singing in her school and she was very much enjoying that.

She shrugged and shook her head.

Now, many years later, she still does not read notation. Yet her musical mind works so much faster than the minds of others who do read that she gets hired for demanding gigs playing new jazz composed by some very fine musicians.

The music that most fascinates me would have been lost forever had it not been written down. My goal in teaching others to read it is to get below the level of the notation to where the sound was as alive to the composer as it is to the mind of a creative musician alive today.

I have developed a way of teaching reading that can achieve this--it doesn't work for every child, but it does work for most children that I have taught. By not tying the notes first to motor responses the child can relate them first to an auditory equivalent, then to a motor response. (Motor responses may constitute difficult or even dangerous territory for some learners.) Taught the other way music becomes mechanical, repetitive--you know the drill.