Following the Traditional Route.
The “normal” methods used in learning to read music still rely on techniques that were first devised over 200 years ago! Interestingly, most every other discipline has dramatically improved its learning techniques.
Science, for example, was once completely learned by book. Of course now, almost all science classes have a “lab” portion that teaches you to use the information you just learned.
Traditional methods of teaching to read music almost exclusively rely on some sort of “homework” like drawing notes for the application portion of the class. And while this might work great if your goal is to sight read one note at a time, it will leave you helplessly stranded if you want to read musical “phrases” (which is by the way how every one of world’s greatest musicians reads).
If you think of the greatest musician you know of; the one who can literally sit down and play almost any piece you set in front of him or her, they read line by line, NOT note by note. And EVERY book, manual, class or flashcard program teaches you to read note by note.
Fortunately, a few “rebel” musicians have recently begun dissecting traditional music education and have discovered several dramatic short cuts that can help even beginners learn to read music 2,5, in some cases even 10 times faster than the traditional method!
This also leads us to the next point: Why does it take most people so long to learn how to read music?
The Answer? Single Sensory Learning.
If you were to list every means of learning to read music, what would be on that list?
· Books · Manual or Home Study Course · Classes · Flashcards
That’s really probably all, right? Right. Everything else that people will tell you to try can basically be boiled down into one of these categories.
With the exception of a class, what do all of these methods have in common? They rely on just one sense to gain the information. If you sit down with a book to learn music reading, you’re only relying on your sight to learn. Flashcards and home study courses are really the same thing – your eyes will undoubtedly be the only engaged sense for learning.
“What’s Wrong With That?” You May Ask…
The number one problem with every method of learning to read music is that it’s slow. And the reason that it’s slow is that it relies only on one sense. Think for example when you learned to speak. As a baby, you watched everyone’s lips move but ALSO heard the sounds they were making. In addition, if they said “crayon”, they handed you a crayon.
So the senses of touch and hearing were engaged, not just sound. Imagine a child learning to speak without the ability to hear or touch. It would take years and years longer, right? That’s the reason Helen Keller was so amazing, because after years and years of patient teaching and study by Anne Sullivan, even the blind and deaf Helen was able to speak.
But as it relates to reading music, most of us are still taught to try to learn like Helen Keller. We may not have the physical disabilities she had, but we’re handicapped by the “one sense” teaching.
So if you’ve ever tried to read music before and given up because it was taking too long, ask yourself this question – “Was I trying to learn through a book, a manual, or a flashcard?”
If the answer is yes, pay attention. There IS hope. You are not bound to never read music because it takes months to learn. The problem was not that you just didn’t have time or that you just couldn’t learn. The problem is that you were being taught to read music in a way that isn’t efficient. It’s not that it didn’t or couldn’t work; I mean, after all, Helen Keller eventually could speak. It’s just that the traditional way you were told to learn to read music makes a skill that could be mastered in just a week or two take months or even years!
Ok, So What If You’ve Never Tried to Learn How to Read Music?
Well you’re in luck. The answer is the same, but be warned. If you try to learn like most people do, you’ll probably end up like most people do: struggling through counting lines and spaces, being frustrated by how long the process is taking, and eventually giving up.
Please don’t resign yourself to that fate. Don’t decide that you’re just meant to stay limited to memory and ear playing. You don’t have to be another casualty of traditional music learning. There are new multi-sensory music learning programs just now becoming available that are already revolutionizing the way people learn to read music.
Some are learning in a week what has taken others months or even years!