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Re: People who refuse to learn to read music
Bhav #2975443 05/05/20 08:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Bhav
I can't read as fast as I could play so therefore I cannot read (well enough).

Your posts are quite confusing. I hope this little snippet is accurate in summing up your problems. I think you are trying to say that you would like to be able to sight read faster.

Originally Posted by Bhav
All that anyone ever taught me was useless mnemonics.

Mnemonics are not useless by themselves, but they must be internalized gradually. If you have to use FACE or All Cows Eat Grass to find every single note, you are not internalizing the staves.

Something that would help: Do a lot of analysis. Analyze each chord in the music. That will help you recognize patterns more efficiently. Then, you can see the chord tones versus the non-chord tones. That helps with sight reading immensely.


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Re: People who refuse to learn to read music
WeakLeftHand #2975444 05/05/20 08:41 PM
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I watch that guy a lot but by that point he's pretty much learned how to play any ragtime.


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Re: People who refuse to learn to read music
AZNpiano #2975446 05/05/20 08:43 PM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by Bhav
I can't read as fast as I could play so therefore I cannot read (well enough).

Your posts are quite confusing. I hope this little snippet is accurate in summing up your problems. I think you are trying to say that you would like to be able to sight read faster.

Originally Posted by Bhav
All that anyone ever taught me was useless mnemonics.

Mnemonics are not useless by themselves, but they must be internalized gradually. If you have to use FACE or All Cows Eat Grass to find every single note, you are not internalizing the staves.

Something that would help: Do a lot of analysis. Analyze each chord in the music. That will help you recognize patterns more efficiently. Then, you can see the chord tones versus the non-chord tones. That helps with sight reading immensely.

No mnemonics are useless. Everyone should be teaching and using the landmark system instead. Mnemonics teach students to use them to figure out every note, whereas landmark teaches to spot notes based on changes in position and counting up and down.


'Its too rare to break a hand from playing the piano ... But playing Hanon as written will break your hand'

- Self proclaimed 'piano teachers' on the internet.
Re: People who refuse to learn to read music
pianoloverus #2975454 05/05/20 08:59 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
It goes without saying that one needs to be able to play without looking at one's hands all the time. If one has to continually look at one's hands then playing music with the score is impossible.

Yes, that’s all I’ve been trying to say.

Originally Posted by pianoloverus
The post I replied to claimed incorrectly that a pianist should not look at their hands period.

I never said that. Maybe you missed this:

Originally Posted by JJHLH
I don’t mean to suggest that looking at ones hands every once in a while is bad, but trying to develop the ability where it’s not necessary seems like a worthwhile goal.

That goal may not be attainable, but strides in that direction seem worthwhile.

Originally Posted by pianoloverus
But the other extreme of never looking at one's hands or only occasionally looking at one's hands is simply not the way any great pianist has ever played.

Nobuyuki Tsujii, the blind Cliburn gold medalist from Japan, would disagree.

https://youtu.be/wbAoeZZvntk

Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Your supposed example of the Hough concert shows the opposite of what you claim.

Nah. Here is the program Hough played. If he could play half of it with his eyes closed or looking straight ahead I’m sure he could play the entire program blindfolded if asked.

https://issuu.com/cliburn/docs/ccprogram_hough_web1


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Re: People who refuse to learn to read music
JJHLH #2975462 05/05/20 09:47 PM
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Originally Posted by JJHLH
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
It goes without saying that one needs to be able to play without looking at one's hands all the time. If one has to continually look at one's hands then playing music with the score is impossible.

Yes, that’s all I’ve been trying to say.

Originally Posted by pianoloverus
The post I replied to claimed incorrectly that a pianist should not look at their hands period.

I never said that. Maybe you missed this:

Originally Posted by JJHLH
I don’t mean to suggest that looking at ones hands every once in a while is bad, but trying to develop the ability where it’s not necessary seems like a worthwhile goal.

That goal may not be attainable, but strides in that direction seem worthwhile.

Originally Posted by pianoloverus
But the other extreme of never looking at one's hands or only occasionally looking at one's hands is simply not the way any great pianist has ever played.

Nobuyuki Tsujii, the blind Cliburn gold medalist from Japan, would disagree.

https://youtu.be/wbAoeZZvntk

Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Your supposed example of the Hough concert shows the opposite of what you claim.

Nah. Here is the program Hough played. If he could play half of it with his eyes closed or looking straight ahead I’m sure he could play the entire program blindfolded if asked.

https://issuu.com/cliburn/docs/ccprogram_hough_web1
You really don't seem to understand what I've said and continually deny facts like good pianists don't do what you advocate. They often look at their hands when playing passages where they could probably play, at least reasonably well, without looking. Your comment about Hough is a perfect example of this, and many great pianists look at the keyboard more than Hough does. Your own examples don't support your ideas.

The fact that Hough might be able to play most of his program without looking at his hands is utterly irrelevant. He chose not to although you used his recital as some kind of proof of how important or common it was to be able to play everything without looking. What you claim to be important good pianists don't do. Hough didn't look at his hands half the time to prove me correct. He did it either because he had to or he knew it would make his playing better/more accurate.

Bringing up blind pianist like Tsuji as an example of why it's important to learn to play without looking at the keyboard is just plain silly. Blind pianists have no choice but to not look at their hands or anything else. I already specifically stated in an earlier post the obvious fact that my comments applied to sighted pianists.

I stated several times my posts were in response to a poster(but not you as you seem to think) who thought it was important to learn to not look at one's hands EVER. You began by writing a post disagreeing with my post and it's been downhill ever since.

Re: People who refuse to learn to read music
Bhav #2975468 05/05/20 10:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Bhav
No mnemonics are useless.

Are you missing a comma somewhere?

Originally Posted by Bhav
Everyone should be teaching and using the landmark system instead. Mnemonics teach students to use them to figure out every note, whereas landmark teaches to spot notes based on changes in position and counting up and down.

I teach landmark + intervallic reading. On the other hand, you don't seem to understand what that actually entails. You are not "counting" up and down. You have to get the intervals by sight (or recognition of shapes and angles). Obviously, if you are already playing Joplin Rags, it's too late for you to regain that intervallic reading ability, unless you want to learn to read a different clef. Try picking up the viola. Or force yourself to transpose easy pieces, like playing a sonatina in a different key. In another thread I challenged the OP to play Invention No. 1 in G Major. That'll force you to read by intervals like never before.

Also, if you really think about it, aren't mnemonics really the same as the landmark approach? You're just spreading out the notes that you are memorizing. Mnemonics are basically a different set of landmarks.

So, the only thing you are really missing is the intervallic reading. THAT'S the elephant in the room. People who are very fast at sight reading can read intervals intuitively, because they recognize patterns in note shapes/contours. I play the violin, but sometimes I had to play a viola, and since I don't read the alto clef, I was transposing by sight.

If you have to read every single letter in the music, one at a time, god help you.


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Re: People who refuse to learn to read music
pianoloverus #2975469 05/05/20 10:15 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I stated several times my posts were in response to a poster(but not you as you seem to think) who thought it was important to learn to not look at one's hands EVER. You began by writing a post disagreeing with my post and it's been downhill ever since.

I apologize. I mistakenly thought you were referring to me with that comment. That’s where the disagreement began but that was my fault.

I actually think we are in agreement about this for the most part. I’m not a zealot when it comes to looking at hands or not. It’s just something I’m conscious of as a beginner who is trying to learn to read and play at the same time.

Sorry about my posts that were needlessly argumentative.


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Re: People who refuse to learn to read music
AZNpiano #2975470 05/05/20 10:21 PM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Mnemonics are not useless by themselves, but they must be internalized gradually. If you have to use FACE or All Cows Eat Grass to find every single note, you are not internalizing the staves.

Something that would help: Do a lot of analysis. Analyze each chord in the music. That will help you recognize patterns more efficiently. Then, you can see the chord tones versus the non-chord tones. That helps with sight reading immensely.

This is very useful advice - making a clear distinction between 'identifying notes' and 'reading patterns'. I think many students get completely stuck at the 'identifying notes' stage, which is a really frickin' painful place to be!!! They never get to the 'reading patterns' stage. To add insult to injury, even if they are told there is a 'reading patterns' stage (and some aren't told this), they are never shown how to practice 'reading patterns'.

There's another level to reading - and that's to get comfortable and fluent in a musical context. It's similar to the 'identify notes/read patterns' problem. Identifying the key is a painful place to be - if you've never been shown how to practice being musically fluent inside that key. This where I think improvisation, duets and learning by rote (yes I know teachers hate that) - but learning by rote is useful. You can be fluent in a musical key without being able to name things or even understand that you're in a key. For example, I've known the bass line for 'Heart and Soul' since I was 6 years old and I've improvised and played the crap out of that bass line. Years later when my teacher finally explained that it is a 6-4-5-1 progression - it immediately clicked "ooooohhhhhh, that's what I've been playing all these years". But he never had to do much more because I was already fluent in that musical context.

Anyway, as a student I find it useful to make those distinctions - and figure how to practice each one to become a better reader.
- identify notes
- read patterns
- fluency in the musical context

I think if you approach each piece you're working on with these things in mind, you'll become a better reader.


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Re: People who refuse to learn to read music
AZNpiano #2975481 05/05/20 11:09 PM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by Bhav
No mnemonics are useless.

Are you missing a comma somewhere?

Originally Posted by Bhav
Everyone should be teaching and using the landmark system instead. Mnemonics teach students to use them to figure out every note, whereas landmark teaches to spot notes based on changes in position and counting up and down.

I teach landmark + intervallic reading. On the other hand, you don't seem to understand what that actually entails. You are not "counting" up and down. You have to get the intervals by sight (or recognition of shapes and angles). Obviously, if you are already playing Joplin Rags, it's too late for you to regain that intervallic reading ability, unless you want to learn to read a different clef. Try picking up the viola. Or force yourself to transpose easy pieces, like playing a sonatina in a different key. In another thread I challenged the OP to play Invention No. 1 in G Major. That'll force you to read by intervals like never before.

Also, if you really think about it, aren't mnemonics really the same as the landmark approach? You're just spreading out the notes that you are memorizing. Mnemonics are basically a different set of landmarks.

So, the only thing you are really missing is the intervallic reading. THAT'S the elephant in the room. People who are very fast at sight reading can read intervals intuitively, because they recognize patterns in note shapes/contours. I play the violin, but sometimes I had to play a viola, and since I don't read the alto clef, I was transposing by sight.

If you have to read every single letter in the music, one at a time, god help you.

Of course I wouldn't understand what it means because no one has ever taught me it and I learn it from YouTube videos! Mnemonics absolutely do not teach anything as such, you are relying on having to use and read through the mnemonic everytime to spot any note, as opposed to just remembering where the C's, G's on treble and Fs on bass are. All you get taught in school music lessons is 5 minutes of mnemonics and therefore apparently you can now read all music!

Also mnemonics SLOW your ability to read music down because you end up always reading from the bottom up until you get to the note you need, and what about ledger lines? They don't cover that at all but landmark does. There is no similarity at all between the two.

Last edited by Bhav; 05/05/20 11:14 PM.

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Re: People who refuse to learn to read music
Groove On #2975489 05/05/20 11:21 PM
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It's similar to the 'identify notes/read patterns' problem. Identifying the key is a painful place to be - if you've never been shown how to practice being musically fluent inside that key.

This I don't agree with because all the keys are simple to play by ear and I was doing this since I was 5. I've never understood the need to practice keys or scales as this has always come easily and naturally to me. The only thing that's always held me back is never having been taught how to sight read and not having taught how to train finger independence.

Last edited by Bhav; 05/05/20 11:22 PM.

'Its too rare to break a hand from playing the piano ... But playing Hanon as written will break your hand'

- Self proclaimed 'piano teachers' on the internet.
Re: People who refuse to learn to read music
Bhav #2975494 05/06/20 12:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Bhav
Of course I wouldn't understand what it means because no one has ever taught me it and I learn it from YouTube videos!

Then stop arguing! What do you have to gain by arguing?

Read my posts more closely. I don't think you are truly understanding everything I wrote. I am actually trying to be helpful, and--without sounding too boastful--I do know what I am talking about.


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Re: People who refuse to learn to read music
Bhav #2975534 05/06/20 02:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Bhav
Quote
It's similar to the 'identify notes/read patterns' problem. Identifying the key is a painful place to be - if you've never been shown how to practice being musically fluent inside that key.

This I don't agree with because all the keys are simple to play by ear and I was doing this since I was 5. I've never understood the need to practice keys or scales as this has always come easily and naturally to me. The only thing that's always held me back is never having been taught how to sight read and not having taught how to train finger independence.

Being able to play scales and arpeggios means your are technically proficient in that key - but it’s not musical fluency.


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Re: People who refuse to learn to read music
Bhav #2975541 05/06/20 03:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Bhav
Quote
It's similar to the 'identify notes/read patterns' problem. Identifying the key is a painful place to be - if you've never been shown how to practice being musically fluent inside that key.

This I don't agree with because all the keys are simple to play by ear and I was doing this since I was 5. I've never understood the need to practice keys or scales as this has always come easily and naturally to me. The only thing that's always held me back is never having been taught how to sight read and not having taught how to train finger independence.

Are you saying you don’t know how to read music? If you want to learn, No one has to teach you. Buy a used copy of any beginner method book and teach yourself. It happens here every day.

Just don’t say you can’t do it because you weren’t taught how.


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Re: People who refuse to learn to read music
WeakLeftHand #2975543 05/06/20 03:11 AM
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By musical fluency I mean that you are comfortable making music in that key, even at a very, very basic level.

So while technical proficiency is useful (e.g. scales and arpeggios) - musical fluency is the context that helps you read music better.


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Re: People who refuse to learn to read music
WeakLeftHand #2975622 05/06/20 09:01 AM
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If learning to read is necessary to fulfill a broader individual goal, then learn. Often though people just want to learn to play and if they achieve early success without reading, they don't see what all the fuss is about. They may never go any further then playing a handful of favorite tunes and are completely content with that. Or, they may stumble upon PW in their 50's and decide they want to learn to read now. It's an individual thing. No rights or wrongs really.

Re: People who refuse to learn to read music
dogperson #2975651 05/06/20 10:09 AM
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Originally Posted by dogperson
Originally Posted by Bhav
Quote
It's similar to the 'identify notes/read patterns' problem. Identifying the key is a painful place to be - if you've never been shown how to practice being musically fluent inside that key.

This I don't agree with because all the keys are simple to play by ear and I was doing this since I was 5. I've never understood the need to practice keys or scales as this has always come easily and naturally to me. The only thing that's always held me back is never having been taught how to sight read and not having taught how to train finger independence.

Are you saying you don’t know how to read music? If you want to learn, No one has to teach you. Buy a used copy of any beginner method book and teach yourself. It happens here every day.

Just don’t say you can’t do it because you weren’t taught how.

No one has to teach you English, Maths or Science either. You can learn it all yourself. What even is the point in learning anything from others then?

A child doesn't know how to teach themselves the full A-Z of music, but that is the situation most children and up in because no one takes the subject seriously anymore.

The point here is that it's not a case of people refusing to learn. It's a problem of people refusing to teach. You can't expect anyone to learn something that no one is even teaching in the first place.

I didn't know how to read music for a long time, and any time I tried to ask music teachers for help they didn't even have an answer and were unwilling to teach it themselves.

Last edited by Bhav; 05/06/20 10:16 AM.

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Re: People who refuse to learn to read music
WeakLeftHand #2975654 05/06/20 10:16 AM
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I don't recall who it was, but someone on PW about a year ago made the case that for highly-talented professional musicians like Paul McCartney or George Winston, they have such an intuitive connection to their music and the creation of it, that written notation would just almost intuitively make sense to them, even more so than the rest of us unwashed (j/k). After all, as WeakLeftHand points out, the "basic" learning to read musical notation is pretty easy - I did it myself in 2 days when I started piano in Feb 2018, courtesy of a free iPhone app. (I don't including the skillful playing on the piano of what I read though - for me, that is still a work in progress! wink )

This resonates with me. I think if we locked Paul McCartney in a room with the average play-by-ear amateur and gave them each sheet music for a song and no other resources, and told them both that the they would not be let out until they played what was on the page on a piano in the room, the first one out would be McCartney. No question. I'd bet on that.

So then, why are there so many musical geniuses (used here without irony) who don't read music in pop, jazz, R&B, contemporary music, etc? I am guess it is either that they lack confidence in their ability to learn, perhaps because they didn't have a good time when they were back in school, or because they feel learning to read music might constrain or do actually damage to their artistry. I tend to lean toward the latter. Which is that many of these professional artists actively refuse to read music because not reading music is like their "lucky charm" and that if they did learn to read music, their recording/performing careers might actually take a hit.


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Re: People who refuse to learn to read music
Tyrone Slothrop #2975657 05/06/20 10:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
I don't recall who it was, but someone on PW about a year ago made the case that for highly-talented professional musicians like Paul McCartney or George Winston, they have such an intuitive connection to their music and the creation of it, that written notation would just almost intuitively make sense to them, even more so than the rest of us unwashed (j/k).

This resonates with me. I think if we locked Paul McCartney in a room with the average play-by-ear amateur and gave them each sheet music for a song and no other resources, and told them both that the they would not be let out until they played what was on the page on a piano in the room, the first one out would be McCartney. No question. I'd bet on that.

So then, why are there so many musical geniuses (not using irony here) who don't read music in pop, jazz, R&B, contemporary music, etc? I am guess it is either that they lack confidence in their ability to learn, perhaps because they didn't have a good time when they were back in school, or because they feel learning to read music might constrain or do actually damage to their artistry. I tend to lean toward the latter. Which is that many of these professional artists actively refuse to read music because not reading music is like their "luck charm" and that if they did learn to read music, their recording/performing careers might actually take a hit.

The issue here is that you don't need to be able to read music to write, play and record original music by ear. But you're not going to be able learn anything of a higher technical level and of a sufficient volume without being able to read the score.

Most players are left needing to learn by ear because they are not being taught how to sight read in the first place, and are mostly just told 'well figure it out yourself then' as I am being told in this thread (and already have been learning myself).

When I was at school and I mentioned I wanted to study Music at university, the first thing anyone would say is 'How is that something you need to study? The Beatles never needed to study music'. You may as well not bother to study anything at all by that rationale as the first person that learnt any topic didn't need to study it either.

Last edited by Bhav; 05/06/20 10:25 AM.

'Its too rare to break a hand from playing the piano ... But playing Hanon as written will break your hand'

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Re: People who refuse to learn to read music
Bhav #2975664 05/06/20 10:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Bhav
The issue here is that you don't need to be able to read music to write, play and record original music by ear. But you're not going to be able learn anything of a higher technical level and of a sufficient volume without being able to read the score.

Most players are left needing to learn by ear because they are not being taught how to sight read in the first place, and are mostly just told 'well figure it out yourself them' as I am being told in this thread.
But why can't one say the same for the storyteller? I could say, "Storytellers don't need to learn to read or write for their craft. They can just learn to weave, tell, and orally record fictional tales without written literacy. Of course they won't be able to learn composition at a higher literary level and of a sufficient volume without being able to read a book."

I think one limitation to not learning how to read musical notation that I brought up to my piano teacher a few days ago is that one's memory has to be very good if one is a prolific composer who is illiterate with respect to musical notation. For example, George Winston creates long compositions with many different features. How can he perform a piece he composed many years before? Well, either he has it memorized, or he would have to hear it again himself. I understand that some people might have such a good ear that hearing their own piece again might be just as easy as a music reader might relearn through seeing the score. But no one is going to convince me that reviewing one's past works by listening to them is not any different from the illiterate storyteller who reviews his past compositions/stories by listening to the recordings. How is this efficient?

Also George Winston cannot communicated his music to others effectively except by playing it himself or by hiring a 3rd-party transcriber. And in the case of the latter, much of his music is difficult to play in transcription as he doesn't seem to follow standard musical forms. I've looked at a few different "official" transcriptions of my favorite composition of his and they are all awkward looking and even different from each other. Likely the latter because he plays the piece slightly differently with some improvisations for each performance, and each of the transcriptions I reviewed was of a different performance of his.


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Re: People who refuse to learn to read music
Tyrone Slothrop #2975667 05/06/20 10:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by Bhav
The issue here is that you don't need to be able to read music to write, play and record original music by ear. But you're not going to be able learn anything of a higher technical level and of a sufficient volume without being able to read the score.

Most players are left needing to learn by ear because they are not being taught how to sight read in the first place, and are mostly just told 'well figure it out yourself them' as I am being told in this thread.
But why can't one say the same for the storyteller? I could say, "Storytellers don't need to learn to read or write for their craft. They can just learn to weave, tell, and orally record fictional tales without written literacy. Of course they won't be able to learn composition at a higher literary level and of a sufficient volume without being able to read a book."

I think one limitation to not learning how to read musical notation that I brought up to my piano teacher a few days ago is that one's memory has to be very good if one is a prolific composer. For example, George Winston creates long compositions with many different features. How can he perform a piece he composed many years before? Well, either he has it memorized, or he would have to hear it again himself. I understand that some people might have such a good ear that hearing their own piece again might be just as easy as a music reader might relearn through seeing the score. But no one is going to convince me that reviewing one's past works by listening to them is not any different from the illiterate storyteller who reviews his past compositions/stories by listening to the recordings. How is this efficient?

Because music has both a written and physical element? You can't express a novel via playing an instrument, well you could simply read or speak the words, but there is no physical element of something like an instrument to play.

You can physically sit down and play an instrument without reading anything and simply play what sounds correct by ear, but you aren't going to be able to build up a repertoire of classical pieces or become a concert pianist if you cannot read music.

Also similarly I still struggle with recording and producing my original ideas because I haven't been taught how to fully use recording software, and this is another thing I need to keep on trying to self learn. Simply put, having the opportunity to learn such things from someone who already knows how to do it vastly speeds up the process of mastering that skill.

Last edited by Bhav; 05/06/20 10:42 AM.

'Its too rare to break a hand from playing the piano ... But playing Hanon as written will break your hand'

- Self proclaimed 'piano teachers' on the internet.
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