Saturday, December 1, 2012

Reading Remembering

Learning to read music is much more difficult than most piano teachers would like it to be.  In the first place, it is not at all like reading words.  If it were each letter of each word would have to be respected as the source of layers of potential response.

I have the privilege of teaching an adult how to read, but really read, music.  We are using Clementi's Preludes and Exercises, a collection which I cannot praise too highly.  The F-sharp minor Prelude is a beautiful example of reading for mystery at the level of every letter of every word:  That it is made up of rhythmically regular patterns is clear from the start.  What remains magical is the degree of incremental change wrought by each changing vibration and by its varying placement within the recurring figure.

The exercise, on the other hand, is a study in reading repetitive words, rather than individual letters. Once having grasped the recurring motives the student does not actually have to "read" every note but can make up the piece fairly accurately out of musical common sense.  Of course, it being Clementi, the sense turns out to be far from common, after all; but the discovery of that is amusing, not frustrating.

It is a great pleasure to work with such entertaining material.  I highly recommend it.