To learn or not to learn: chapter 2: Reading music

“How do you get a guitar player to turn it down? Put a chart in front of him.” This is just one of many musician jokes based on the fact that most musicians out there refuse to practice this very important skill. (Except for wind instruments; those guys are usually killer sight readers) We all know how tedious it can be to sit down and practice reading; it feels like an eternity of boredom at times, especially when we can be spending that time jamming, practicing improvisation concepts or writing music. But just like learning harmony and theory; it has a wide array of benefits. So, once again I have decided to provide you with a list of some of these very benefits.

1. Access to knowledge: By knowing how to read music you will be open to countless sources of information that otherwise you’d be obscure to. When paired up with harmony and theory concepts the educational possibilities are endless. For example, compositional techniques via music analysis, improvisation techniques via transcriptions etc…

2. Communication: By knowing how to read you can share information with your fellow musician; be it your compositions, ideas, concepts, etc…

3. Gigs: By knowing how to read you will be open to any gigs where the musician needed is expected to read. For example live theatre, orchestras, jazz ensembles, etc…

4. Record keeping: The ability to jolt down ideas to paper is priceless. The ridiculous amounts of ideas that come up to you on those countless sleepless nights won’t go to waste since you can save them on a piece of paper. Not only that; but the countless amounts of melodies that get lost in time (and your messy room), only to be found a couple of months (maybe even years) later and getting completely inspired by them.

5. Saves time: It allows for rehearsal time to be cut short since the band members can get the written music beforehand which means that in reality you’ll only be working out the details with the band instead of starting from scratch.

All in all there is really no excuse not to learn a new skill in the craft that you have chosen as your profession, your life and the method with which you earn your living. So if you plan on being a professional musician, it would not hurt to learn how to read. It’s the same as with living in a community or society in general. It’s not really such a great idea in today’s world to ignore learning how to read and write. So why decide not to do so in the music world; the world that YOU have decided to live in. I suggest we pick up our music notation and get to reading. It definitely wouldn’t hurt. Hell, it might give you the edge at that next audition...

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© 2015 by Juan Antonio Music.