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Re: ... But: Is reading *absolutely* necessary?! [Re: bennevis] #2722434
03/19/18 03:45 AM
03/19/18 03:45 AM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
Who wants to play Chopin or Rachmaninov or Prokofiev or (God forbid) Messiaen anyway, when you could spend your lifetime playing nice tunes by ear with RH and make up stuff with LH?


Sadly, this is what more and more students (in Western Countries) are wanting.

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Re: ... But: Is reading *absolutely* necessary?! [Re: Farago] #2722443
03/19/18 04:38 AM
03/19/18 04:38 AM
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I think it's generally not too helpful to use Liszt and Mozart, et al., as examples of anything. Their experiences do not generalize to most other musicians. Liszt may have been able to play Hummel concertos by ear, but I suspect that skill is unavailable to nearly 100% of other musicians. I suspect also that this skill cannot be taught using any method we currently know of.

I think the overwhelming majority of musicians, or trainee musicians, who want to play in the western classical tradition will simply have no practical alternative than to learn to read music. For better or worse, the cultural expectation in that musical field is note-pefect conformity to some published score, with tightly constrained interpretive freedom. It's certainly possible to argue about whether that's a "good thing" from an aesthetic standpoint, and whether the situation was different in the past, but that's the way things are now.

So it's not really a matter of whether it's a good thing to learn to read music -- it's a necessity -- but how much early training should focus on that, and how much on other skills. I could easily be convinced that note-reading features too strongly in most early training.

I can't see anybody with an interest in non-classical musical genres actually being harmed by learning to read music, but the unavoidable necessity is less obvious.

Re: ... But: Is reading *absolutely* necessary?! [Re: Farago] #2722447
03/19/18 05:04 AM
03/19/18 05:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Farago
Originally Posted by Carey
Apparently his mother helped a bit at the beginning

Sure, "his mother started teaching him, too, but Fryderyk mastered the instrument so rapidly that before he turned six, he could play every melody he had ever heard, and began to improvise. He had essentially learned the piano by himself, including harmonizing melodies with simple chords."

Did his mother teach him his own unique ways of harmonizing melodies with simple chords?
No.
Was his mother there showing him every single key sequence from every piece he'd ever heard?
No.
Do piano teachers today do that?
Yes.
How?
With top-down videos of keyboards and fingers (on YouTube), with their own fingers, or with sheet music.
There's far less about what Chopin's mother Justyna did than what her son autodidactically did.
I figured you'd respond in this way. You didn't disappoint.
Originally Posted by Carey
Seems like your personal biases are showing.
Originally Posted by Farago
If you're going to go that route, let's have you specify those biases. wink
OK - you seem to have a problem with "people who can do naught but push keys (with varying levels of understanding and nuance) once they're presented with a score."
Originally Posted by Carey
Originally Posted by Farago
Farago] Chopin wasn't shown the chords by other people. He figured them out as a strapping young autodidact. As did all the other composers.
Happy generalization.
Originally Posted by Farago
Not a happy generalization at all. In fact, it's a rather simple deduction: Composers figured out their innovative stuff as autodidacts. Debussy, for example, saw improvisation as his main creative source, claiming that his harmonic innovations came from, “following the law of pleasure of the ear”. If you can find me a classical composer, or a handful of classical composers, who made names for themselves by way of rote mimicry of some now-obscure 'teachers', then I'll concede that I made a "happy generalization".
So what does this have to do with Chopin not being shown chords by other people? I'm talking basics and you are talking about innovation. The most successful classical composers had a good grasp of the basics as well as the ability to innovate..
Originally Posted by Carey
I'm guessing that if Kissin hadn't been constrained and forced into" interpretership" he wouldn't be as well-known today - but he might be a lot happier. Who knows.
Originally Posted by Farago
Who's to say that he wouldn't have been the next Chopin?
I've recently heard a recording of him playing two of his early compositions. Nothing particularly earthshaking or innovative..
Originally Posted by Carey
Apparently "reading" means different things to different people.
Originally Posted by Farago
This is exactly what I assert.
You make it sound like your definition is the only true definition.
Originally Posted by Carey
Who, specifically is "we?"
Originally Posted by Farago
All teachers who foist sheet music upon children. I used to do that, in my teens. Because that was dogma. Eventually, in my late teens / early twenties, I started getting the nagging feeling that the "playing" facilitated by codependence on sheet music is really screwing things up for kids. It'll change, and we shall see that day sooner than most realize.
It works for some kids but not for others. There is no right or wrong here. You just have to find an approach that works for the individual.

I'm done.


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Re: ... But: Is reading *absolutely* necessary?! [Re: Farago] #2722448
03/19/18 05:07 AM
03/19/18 05:07 AM
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Of course reading isn't absolutely necessary, whether it be language notation (such as a book), or musical notation (which, thankfully, is an international standard)

If your mother taught you poetry at her lap as a child, and you learned it by rote, you would probably have a better feel for it than you would if you were just taught to read and given a book of poetry. Generally, it's no different with music. With an able teacher and an even more able child, you can go a long way without needing to learn musical notation. In essence, this is how most pop musicians start out (mostly by mimicking others), and as long as things are kept relatively straight forward you can build endless 3 minute songs without having to delve deeper.

The strengths of musical notation become obvious when you do delve deeper. It can describe the music pretty exactly in written form, and as far as I know is unique in that. That enables musicians to look at a few hundred year's worth of music and decide what they want to do with it. In short it's no different to being able to read text, which opens up the entire contents of a library to you.

I can't see what building lists of people who can and can't read music achieves. If you're suggesting that teachers should start off teaching by rote and add reading musical notation at a later date, you might have a very valid point.


The English may not like music much, but they love the sound it makes ... Beecham
Re: ... But: Is reading *absolutely* necessary?! [Re: Farago] #2722453
03/19/18 06:10 AM
03/19/18 06:10 AM
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I like the question and think it's very valid. And perhaps the answer is that it depends on the individual.

In my own case I was only introduced to the piano at the age of 7 when I could read. Apparently when on holidays at the ages of 4 and 5 I would sit under the piano of the daughter of the landlady listening to her playing. And when I came to learn to play I quickly became very good at sight reading and could also 'read' from memory by 'seeing' the music in front of me. Unfortunately that latter ability soon disappeared and it is a source of regret that I then just relied on my sight-reading ability.

In contrast, a younger cousin of mine had a piano in the house and mb the age of five was playing anything that he heard on the radio by ear. And went on to be a successful musician.

I wonder what would have happened if the situations had been reversed?

Last edited by Colin Miles; 03/19/18 06:11 AM. Reason: corrections

Roland LX7

South Wales, UK
Re: ... But: Is reading *absolutely* necessary?! [Re: Farago] #2722459
03/19/18 07:03 AM
03/19/18 07:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Farago


All of Chopin's music was initially played by ear. By Chopin.

You're confusing improvising & composing at the piano with playing (someone else's) music by ear. Chopin didn't play Bach's WTC by ear. He played Chopin by ear.

I also improvise - and play myself - at the piano, by ear (amazing but true).

Quote
According to a segment of Kissin's autobiography, mentioned above, he too was playing pieces more complex than Mozart's Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star by age six.

I can see how 'playing by ear' carries the connotation of 'exclusively playing simple ditties'... but does that stem from the fact that your capability is currently at that level? Do you think it's possible to push beyond that?

You're right, my ability to play by ear is confined to TTLS, and just about extends to Rachmaninov symphonies, and maybe (at a push) Rautavaara's Cantus Arcticus.

How about your own ability? Can you play TTLS by ear?

BTW, every kid plays by ear, as I did. If you've read a few of my 10000+ posts, you'll know that I had to do that as a student because the internet - and IMSLP - weren't around then (amazing but true), and I couldn't afford to buy any music scores for myself (even more amazing but true). So, I banged away at Beethoven symphonies as well as ABBA songs à la Francis (aka Liszt) entirely by ear, like many of my fellow students (who banged away at other composers more to their liking, like Francis and Freddy).

I think you're just trying to stir up discord for its own sake. Who cares if you can read music? In fact, who cares if you can read English? If you don't care, no-one else does. Except of course, you won't be able to read what I post, which is a pity, because you might be enlightened by them (even if I say so myself)....... wink


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: ... But: Is reading *absolutely* necessary?! [Re: bennevis] #2722482
03/19/18 08:19 AM
03/19/18 08:19 AM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
[quote=Farago]

I think you're just trying to stir up discord for its own sake. Who cares if you can read music? In fact, who cares if you can read English? If you don't care, no-one else does. Except of course, you won't be able to read what I post, which is a pity, because you might be enlightened by them (even if I say so myself)....... wink


I think you nailed it there. His own description says: "Hobbies Arguing with you." He likes to argue, and sees himself as an intellectual, imo....


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Re: ... But: Is reading *absolutely* necessary?! [Re: Farago] #2722484
03/19/18 08:22 AM
03/19/18 08:22 AM
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Farago, answer the following question: for a full-fledged performance of a classical work, the study and analysis of a musical text is required. How do you think - music analysis is easier to do by ear or by notes (for a musician with ordinary memory)?
On the other hand, there are examples, like Imre Ungar.


Last edited by Nahum; 03/19/18 08:31 AM.
Re: ... But: Is reading *absolutely* necessary?! [Re: NobleHouse] #2722500
03/19/18 09:17 AM
03/19/18 09:17 AM
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Originally Posted by NobleHouse
Originally Posted by bennevis
[quote=Farago]

I think you're just trying to stir up discord for its own sake. Who cares if you can read music? In fact, who cares if you can read English? If you don't care, no-one else does. Except of course, you won't be able to read what I post, which is a pity, because you might be enlightened by them (even if I say so myself)....... wink


I think you nailed it there. His own description says: "Hobbies Arguing with you." He likes to argue, and sees himself as an intellectual, imo....


I initially asked if he is asking this question for himself, or for his job as a writer. No reply.


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
" I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

It’s ok to be a Work In Progress
Re: ... But: Is reading *absolutely* necessary?! [Re: dogperson] #2722503
03/19/18 09:25 AM
03/19/18 09:25 AM
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Originally Posted by dogperson
Originally Posted by NobleHouse
Originally Posted by bennevis
[quote=Farago]

I think you're just trying to stir up discord for its own sake. Who cares if you can read music? In fact, who cares if you can read English? If you don't care, no-one else does. Except of course, you won't be able to read what I post, which is a pity, because you might be enlightened by them (even if I say so myself)....... wink


I think you nailed it there. His own description says: "Hobbies Arguing with you." He likes to argue, and sees himself as an intellectual, imo....


I initially asked if he is asking this question for himself, or for his job as a writer. No reply.


Somewhere buried in there, I think I saw that he said "both." I'm not going back to find it.


Learner
Re: ... But: Is reading *absolutely* necessary?! [Re: Farago] #2722510
03/19/18 09:32 AM
03/19/18 09:32 AM
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My perspective on this topic is different than most in this forum, but not completely unique. I'll start with my answer, then explain my rationale.

-No....it isn't COMPLETELY necessary, BUT.....

So my musical journey began 26 years ago, with a guitar and zero musical education. I played for over 20 years, achieving considerable skill, with only the most rudimentary understanding of some music theory. So yes, you can learn and be very good at playing an instrument without learning to read music. Here's where the BUT comes in though. A fuller and more complete understanding of music theory, which includes reading, will strengthen almost any musician's ability. I'm not talking about great sight reading skills, I'm talking about being able to analyze and understand music. Spending a little time to understand key signatures, chord progressions, basic scales, timing, and dynamics will allow you to (1) Learn songs more quickly with less effort (2) Play more effectively with other musicians (3) Have better focus when playing and (4) the ability to Improvise. The heights you can reach and the speed you can get there are easily tied to understanding the music. Reading is really a small part of this, but a useful part.

Being able to put sheet music in front of you and just start playing it, is really a niche ability that is difficult to develop. Sight reading is certainly a valuable skill, but depending on your goal in music, may certainly not be necessary at all. Although music theory goes as deep as you want to follow it, significant understanding is far simpler than appears. It is daunting when it is unknown, but as you start to understand it, it's simplicity becomes more apparent. Playing, reading, writing, understanding, improvising, these skills are all related. Although they may not require each other, they do help each other. Strengthening any ONE will strengthen the others.

Just don't fall into the one pitfall of sight reading. Too many musicians learn to play only by sight reading. That's ok if it's all you want, but it's very limiting. Once there's a direct connection between your eyes and your hands (which is really what sight reading is), It can be difficult to play if you remove the "eyes" from the equation. Make sure you practice playing from memory ALSO. You need to develop the brain to hands connection as well as the eyes to hand connection. Otherwise, you will have real difficulties or may otherwise be completely unable to play without sheet music. To me, that's as limiting as not reading music at all.


Currently working on:
Asturia (Leyenda) - Isaac Albeniz
Mia and Sabastian's Theme - Kyle Landry arrangement
also working on some vocal training



Re: ... But: Is reading *absolutely* necessary?! [Re: NobleHouse] #2722572
03/19/18 10:47 AM
03/19/18 10:47 AM
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Originally Posted by NobleHouse
Originally Posted by bennevis
[quote=Farago]

I think you're just trying to stir up discord for its own sake. Who cares if you can read music? In fact, who cares if you can read English? If you don't care, no-one else does. Except of course, you won't be able to read what I post, which is a pity, because you might be enlightened by them (even if I say so myself)....... wink


I think you nailed it there. His own description says: "Hobbies Arguing with you." He likes to argue, and sees himself as an intellectual, imo....
I think this is a major troll thread and best to ignore. I thought many of my comments very early in the thread were self evident yet each one got a response of "why?".

Re: ... But: Is reading *absolutely* necessary?! [Re: Farago] #2722574
03/19/18 10:57 AM
03/19/18 10:57 AM
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Like many slightly 'controversial' topics on this forum, I think many of the responses tend to say more about the responders than about the actual subject matter.


Roland LX7

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Re: ... But: Is reading *absolutely* necessary?! [Re: JayWalkingBlues] #2722576
03/19/18 11:04 AM
03/19/18 11:04 AM
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Originally Posted by JayWalkingBlues
My perspective on this topic is different than most in this forum, but not completely unique. I'll start with my answer, then explain my rationale.

-No....it isn't COMPLETELY necessary, BUT.....

Just don't fall into the one pitfall of sight reading. Too many musicians learn to play only by sight reading. That's ok if it's all you want, but it's very limiting. Once there's a direct connection between your eyes and your hands (which is really what sight reading is), It can be difficult to play if you remove the "eyes" from the equation. Make sure you practice playing from memory ALSO. You need to develop the brain to hands connection as well as the eyes to hand connection. Otherwise, you will have real difficulties or may otherwise be completely unable to play without sheet music. To me, that's as limiting as not reading music at all.

For many professional classical pianists who are not solo concert pianists, good sight-reading skills trumps everything else, including theoretical knowledge and playing by ear. Definitely including playing from memory.

Many of them do lots of odd gigs, including collaborative/chamber music, accompanying singers, directing choirs etc, as well as teaching. They may be called upon to accompany a ballet class and play some waltz at sight which they'd never set eyes on and never heard before, or accompany a singer at an audition who wants to sing an obscure aria by an obscure composer no-one has heard of. The music score is put on the music rest, and they have to deliver the goods there & then. Not just play most of the notes, but play them musically. They become adept at simplifying on the fly if there are too many notes on the pages (as is often the case), they get the gist of what they're playing very quickly without wasting time analyzing it (let's face it, a lot of music use the same series of chord progressions in various permutations), and once they've sight-read it, it's instantly forgotten.

I know a piano teacher who enjoys accompanying more than teaching, and never passes up any gigs. Recently, she was asked to fill in for the pit pianist (playing with a small band) who had fallen ill, for a certain well-known musical for a rehearsal and performance that same evening. She was unfamiliar with the music (musicals aren't her thing) but was totally unfazed, and told me later that once she knew the tunes, she could easily improvise the harmonies and accompaniment rather than play what was in the score.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: ... But: Is reading *absolutely* necessary?! [Re: Farago] #2722581
03/19/18 11:17 AM
03/19/18 11:17 AM
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Not only is reading music extremely necessary to play classical music, it is also necessary for orchestral pieces. Can you imagine an orchestra trying to play where no one knew how to read music? I think it would sound awful. Also reading music is critical for musical plays as well. The musical director not only directs the orchestra pit, but entire cast as well. If they couldn't read music it wouldn't be possible.


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Re: ... But: Is reading *absolutely* necessary?! [Re: Colin Miles] #2722584
03/19/18 11:21 AM
03/19/18 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Colin Miles
Like many slightly 'controversial' topics on this forum, I think many of the responses tend to say more about the responders than about the actual subject matter.


And it is easy to be generous with someone else's practice time.


WhoDwaldi
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Re: ... But: Is reading *absolutely* necessary for classical?! [Re: Farago] #2722588
03/19/18 11:39 AM
03/19/18 11:39 AM
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Haven't read all the posts, just skimmed, but it looks like this hasn't been asked:

Why such questioning and resistance about knowing how to read music?

Why not learn it??


I would understand it if learning how to read music were complicated or very hard.
It isn't.
Children learn to do it in days -- and I don't mean prodigies, I mean just about any kid.

It's not like learning the Theory of Relativity. grin
It's not like, "How important is it to understand Einstein."

What's the big deal??
It's not hard to learn, and it's a great advantage, whatever kind of music you might be into.

What's the big deal? Why any resistance about it?
It takes less time and effort to do it than to be asking these questions. ha

Re: ... But: Is reading *absolutely* necessary?! [Re: Farago] #2722593
03/19/18 11:50 AM
03/19/18 11:50 AM
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A lot of people who took / are taking music lessons playing Classical assumed reading music is a necessary part of the curriculum.

What is the purpose of music notations? Howard Goodall who worked with the BBC did an excellent documentary "The Story of Music". Going back a few hundred years before the invention of recording devices, people relied on paper and ink to record music. Before music was written down, priests & monks relied on memory. Memory is unreliable and very often a tune passed from person to person would change a little bit until it becomes unrecognizable from the original. The first attempt to record music was placing lines above Latin text in a hymn book to show pitch rising & falling until Guido d'Arezzo from Italy came up with a practical way of recording music (on paper) using notations.

Fast forward a few hundred years in the southern US Jazz was evolving from the Blues. The people were mainly illiterate and music would be passed from person to person by memory. Every time a tune is sung / played on an instrument by another person, he/she would change the tune a bit and add embellishments. This is why Jazz and later Pop music tend to be open to improvisation while Classical is seen as music that is played "by the book" note-for-note because the great composers in Europe wrote everything on paper. However, composers in Europe also improvised on a keyboard / piano. The time when Jazz became popular, around the corner was the first gramophone invented by Edison. With sound recording available, people no longer need to rely on notations on paper to "record" their songs. While Jazz musicians tend to play by ear, Scott Joplin who wrote many famous Ragtime pieces was trained as a Classical pianist in Germany and notated his pieces on paper.

Music notation before the 20th century was the only way to "record" a piece of music. Therefore, to learn a piece one must learn notations. The Suzuki approach to learning to play music for the first year involve students learning songs by ear (listening to CD recordings) and imitation (hand positions and fingerings) by watching teachers doing demos. Reading music is introduced later. Teachers & students who are into Classical music tend to take a balanced approach of having good ear-training & be proficient note readers. Jazz musicians tend to take reading music as optional (either reading lead sheets or play by ear approach).

Once met somebody who managed to learn to play Debussy's "Clair de Lune" reasonably well by watching video demos and learning by ear. It is not an easy piece whether you go by sound recordings or notations. On the other hand, he completely bypassed the need to read notations. It is totally possible to learn compositions without heaving to read music. Reading music is something you'd do at home practicing your instrument. In a performance you can go by sheet music or memory and the audience wouldn't care as long as you make a good sound...

Re: ... But: Is reading *absolutely* necessary for classical?! [Re: Mark_C] #2722595
03/19/18 11:53 AM
03/19/18 11:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Mark_C
Haven't read all the posts, just skimmed, but it looks like this hasn't been asked:

Why such questioning and resistance about knowing how to read music?

Why not learn it??


I would understand it if learning how to read music were complicated or very hard.
It isn't.
Children learn to do it in days -- and I don't mean prodigies, I mean just about any kid.

It's not like learning the Theory of Relativity. grin
It's not like, "How important is it to understand Einstein."

What's the big deal??
It's not hard to learn, and it's a great advantage, whatever kind of music you might be into.

What's the big deal? Why any resistance about it?
It takes less time and effort to do it than to be asking these questions. ha


eh, nevermind.

Last edited by WhoDwaldi; 03/19/18 05:25 PM.

WhoDwaldi
Howard (by Kawai) 5' 10"
Re: ... But: Is reading *absolutely* necessary?! [Re: Farago] #2722598
03/19/18 11:57 AM
03/19/18 11:57 AM
Joined: Oct 2013
Posts: 1,667
Chicago, Illinois
David Farley Offline
1000 Post Club Member
David Farley  Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Joined: Oct 2013
Posts: 1,667
Chicago, Illinois
If it's a serious question and the OP didn't post it on this particular forum to troll up some Colonel Blimp enraged spluttering to add to an article he might be writing...

Why not turn the question around? Why did musicians who probably early on ran way ahead of their formal training feel compelled to write their music down? And in many cases were very clear that they wanted their music played as written. The obvious answer is they had to because the recording industry didn't exist at the time. But even if it had would Chopin and others have been content to leave their music to their own recordings and only those who could play them by ear?

It's not like people who teach music professionally don't get that it isn't just reading notes on paper. I got my degree from a school that specialized in training music teachers, mostly K-12. Even though that wasn't my concentration, a good dose of training in pedagogy was required from everyone, and it included solfege, and Dalcroze Eurythmics, among other things. Despite the fact that most of them get stuck in positions where school boards think music is properly taught for an hour every two weeks, if that, if left to their own devices music teachers would give kids a thorough grounding in all the fundamentals before reading sheet music even came into the picture.


Last edited by David Farley; 03/19/18 02:15 PM. Reason: typo
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