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JoeHempel
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I don't think it harms the person to not know it, after all, if you play well, and you know some theory, can translate that to an instrument, but you can't read, you are still a great musician but maybe not able to realize your full potential.

I also think I'm getting hung up on sight reading....everyone can read notes on a page given enough time....but not everyone can sight read, and I think that might be where I'm getting hung up.

I defenitley don't think the ability to sight read is a deal break when it comes to being a musician. People who can read are not necessarily sight readers.

In Space, no one can hear me sing!


   
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Fretsource
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The trouble with using a syllogism here is that the premise (all 'musicians' read standard notation) is false, and we agree on that. I'd suggest the term 'dilettante' for a non-reading musician... not in any derogatory sense, but in its true meaning: someone with an interest in a field, but with only a superficial knowledge of it.

I'd suggest trying to find a more appropriate word than 'dilettante'. Implying that a songwriter of the stature of Paul McCartney is a musical dilettante simply because he doesn't read music flies in the face of the evidence, i.e., his songs. And I definitely wouldn't say it to his face. :D

Music as a whole is far too vast and varied to make such sweeping generalisations. In the field of popular music, is he a dilettante? Obviously not. His skills, knowledge, talent and deep understanding of it are not only widely acknowledged to have produced some of the greatest pop songs of the 20th century, but also to have been instrumental in shaping the whole genre for the best part of a decade.

In the field of classical music is he a dilettante? Yes - and I'm sure he would agree with that. His lack of classical training and inability to read music are a severe handicap to making any real progress in that field even with the help of his conductor friend Carl Davies. His interest in that field is probably not too deep or he would have acquired those necessary skills when he needed them.

I think all musicians with an interest in a variety of styles, whether they read or not, can be called 'dilletante' in those styles in which their interests are superficial or passing, but not in the styles to which they have devoted their lives.

As NoteBoat and Notes and others have already pointed out, a musician who can read has far more musical possibilities than one who can't. A musician who can't read is limited to those areas of music in which reading isn't essential. If their interest lies wholly within those areas, then no problem. They can advance within their chosen area as far as their talent, skills and luck can take them, far beyond the 'dilettante' stage, Paul McCartney being a prime example.


   
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Crow
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Let's not kid ourselves. "Dilettante" is derogatory, as is "illiterate." More accurately, they are "loaded" terms -- words that can be justified by strict definitions but carry inescapable negative implications. Any English speaker who uses those terms knows this, or should....

:::sarcasm mode on:::

Speaking of what one "should" know, I have been inspired by this thread to revise my own yardstick of musicianship:

- A complete musician must be able to improvise on demand for 32 bars in any given Western historical style for which improvisation was important. This includes Baroque, early classical, basic 12-bar blues, jazz standards, and the Grateful Dead songbook.

- A complete musician must have a solid foundation in all aspects of music theory: solfege, Greek modes in the original notation, Roman numeral analysis, species counterpoint, Schenkerian graphic analysis, pitch-class sets, and a comprehensive understanding of late 20th-century harmony and jazz chord substitution. Ear training must include mastery of 12-tone rows in all possible transformations.

- A complete musician shall be able to sight-read a complete orchestral score (at moderate tempo -- I'm not an unreasonable guy). Any major symphony conductor can do this on piano. It's not rocket science -- none of this is. You just stop watching one or two dumb television programs a week and use the time for score study and ear training.

That's what I aspire to, and that's what I'm looking for in future bandmates. There is simply no excuse for second-rate musicianship, and if this intimidates a beginner, well, that's one less illiterate dilettante the rest of have to deal with. If those people aren't ready for the full monty, they shouldn't even pick the instrument up in the first place. They can find another hobby. I understand Sasha dolls are fun.

:::sarcasm mode off:::

"You can't write a chord ugly enough to say what you want to say sometimes, so you have to rely on a giraffe filled with whipped cream." - Frank Zappa


   
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notes_norton
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I prefer illiterate to dilettante, because the definition of illiterate is simply not able to read or write.

From http://www.thefreedictionary.com/illiterate

The first definition of illiterate:

1.
a. Unable to read and write.
b. Having little or no formal education.

The second definition deals exclusively with speech, language and literature so I left that out.

and the third:

3. Ignorant of the fundamentals of a given art or branch of knowledge: musically illiterate.

If someone takes offense at that term where no offense is meant, he/she is having a personal problem and perhaps feels inferior to one who does read and write.

But no matter how good we are, we will always lack some skills that someone else has. There will always be someone who knows more than we do, and rather than resent it, we should learn from it.

If we don't know something we think we should, instead of feeling badly about it, we should simply accept the fact that we don't know that YET, and yet is the big word. We should prioritize what we need to know next by the musical situation we find ourselves in, and simply get on the path of learning.

As I said in an earlier post. If you gave up one mindless TV show per day, only one half hour of sitting on the couch vicariously living your life by watching actors pretending to do things, you could learn to read music in a year. Especially if you already have control of your instrument.

Paul McCartney is an illiterate musician. He cannot read or write music. What the Beatles did, could not have been done without the help of George Martin's music theory ability (and you can't know music theory without reading music). Eleanor Rigby, A Day In The Live, Sgt. Pepper, I Am The Walrus, The Abbey Road Medley, and most of the other output of the Beatles wouldn't have progressed much past the I Want To Hold Your Hand stage without that help (from Mr. Martin or someone else).

If you cannot read music, and don't want to read music, and want to remain an illiterate musician, that's OK. If you are embarrassed about being an illiterate musician, you know how to fix that.

And I am sure that many illiterate guitarists can play things that I cannot play, YET. But I've only been playing guitar a couple of years now and I will get better.

Insights and incites by Notes ♫

Bob "Notes" Norton

Owner, Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com Add-on Styles for Band-in-a-Box and Microsoft SongSmith

The Sophisticats http://www.s-cats.com >^. .^< >^. .^<


   
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JoeHempel
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If you cannot read music, and don't want to read music, and want to remain an illiterate musician, that's OK.

To me that says two ways to Sunday "I'm better than you because I read music." Has nothing to do with being insecure, or feeling inadequate. The whole thing leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

I guess the bottom line is "WHO CARES?" If you can create something that moves somebody, you are a musician...bottom line.

I can relate more to Blues/Rock/Country than Bach, Beethoven, and Tchaikovsky. While I enjoy playing Classical, I can't stand to listen to it, unless it's strictly classical guitar.
As I said in an earlier post. If you gave up one mindless TV show per day, only one half hour of sitting on the couch vicariously living your life by watching actors pretending to do things, you could learn to read music in a year. Especially if you already have control of your instrument.

And again, to me this says the same thing...YOU think TV is mindless, I find it entertaining and a great escape. Much like reading a book...they are two different things, give me an escape from reality...I don't believe that my entire life needs to be dedicated to learning...that's boring.

Maybe this all has to do with the bad taste the delcamp forums left in my mouth....but it seems that MOST (not all, you aren't included in this) Classically trained people I come across are very pompus and have a huge "I'm better than you, leave me alone" attitude.

In Space, no one can hear me sing!


   
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kingpatzer
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To me that says two ways to Sunday "I'm better than you because I read music." Has nothing to do with being insecure, or feeling inadequate. The whole thing leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

People ask "Why should I learn to read standard notation? Can't I do everything I need to in tab?" And the answer is:

"No, you cannot. Without being able to read standard notation you are an illiterate musician and there are things you will not be able to do. You might not want to do those things today, but you don't know what you'll want to do in a year, or five, or twenty. And if you're a young musician who wants to make a living with music one of the surest ways to make sure you can't is to not read music."
I guess the bottom line is "WHO CARES?" If you can create something that moves somebody, you are a musician...bottom line.

Any individual player may not care. But if they are going to ask the question, then obviously they do care or they are at least curious.
Maybe this all has to do with the bad taste the delcamp forums left in my mouth....but it seems that MOST (not all, you aren't included in this) Classically trained people I come across are very pompus and have a huge "I'm better than you, leave me alone" attitude.

If people who are ignorant of some aspect of music are offended by that fact being noted, and more importantly noting that it's a limitation that effects their ability to function as a musician, that is a personal issue. I've noted that I have family members who don't read music who can play circles around me in their genre. It's not about the ability to perform, at least in that limited range of those areas they've garnered some time reading tabs and listening to songs.

"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side." -- HST


   
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JoeHempel
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My point was...if you are a listener, who cares how they made the music.

And no, thinking that classical composers are pompus in most cases is not a personal thing, it's a pretty well known fact that 90% of them think they are better than you. That's not my view that's a whole bunch of people's view, and it's not like everyone is insecure about music.

My 2 cents worth is, if you are making music to make money, the listener isn't going to care if you can read or not. And that's what it boils down to, is what the listener wants to hear.
"No, you cannot. Without being able to read standard notation you are an illiterate musician and there are things you will not be able to do. You might not want to do those things today, but you don't know what you'll want to do in a year, or five, or twenty. And if you're a young musician who wants to make a living with music one of the surest ways to make sure you can't is to not read music."

Of course not, but I don't thing a Rock guitar player who makes his money playing rock guitar will be picking up a classical piece to make money off of it. But of the guitar players that do make money, I bet dollars to doughnuts some of todays best guitarists can't read.

In Space, no one can hear me sing!


   
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Crow
 Crow
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This is a beginner's forum. Says so right at the top of my screen -- "Beginner's Q&A Forum." As this is a beginner's forum, I am not too worried about insulting players who are non-readers (or skilled readers, or teachers, for that matter). I'm concerned about discouraging non-players -- beginners -- by insisting they must learn to read ink dots on staff paper.

The guitar, more than probably any other instrument, attracts beginners who aren't particularly interested in learning how to read ink dots on staff paper. This is especially true for adults who have already spent way lots of years of book-study. Turning the guitar into an academic exercise is a good way to tell those would-be players to look for another pastime. "You can learn to read music, or you can choose to be illiterate" -- or "a dilettante," or "ignorant" -- clearly tells a lot of beginners to put the instrument down altogether, if that's what we want to do. And that appears to be exactly what some of us want to do.

The long-term advantages of reading music, learning theory and all the rest of it aren't really debatable. The guitar, however, also happily accommodates the folks who just want to strum some songs at parties or blast out some one-note punk solos in their basements. Who are we to intimidate these guitar players by insisting they learn to read?

"You can't write a chord ugly enough to say what you want to say sometimes, so you have to rely on a giraffe filled with whipped cream." - Frank Zappa


   
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JoeHempel
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You gotta good point there...and I agree 100%.

This whole post, and really the whole reason I go off on tangents...is because this whole thread is putting people who can't read music down. And to re-iterate what other people said about feeling inadequate or insecure, that's not an insecurity speaking, I can read, but I can't sight read, I don't care if I'll ever be able to sight read, but it's a step I CHOSE to take on my own (and it wasn't for theoretical reasons)...not having someone saying...if you can't read then you can't say you're a musician.

Again, if yo CREATE (not cover) something that moves people, then you are a musician, an artists, whatever you want to call your self.

Everything in this thread is based on opinion...even the definitions are OR and not AND as far as skill sets go. And all the arguments, including mine are just semantics.

In Space, no one can hear me sing!


   
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kingpatzer
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And no, thinking that classical composers are pompus in most cases is not a personal thing, it's a pretty well known fact that 90% of them think they are better than you.

If you're talking about me and composers who make money at it, then 99% of them are. That just makes at least 89% of them frankly honest and 9% unnecessarily humble and at most1% pompous. Which I'm guessing probably is about the same as the general population.
My 2 cents worth is, if you are making music to make money, the listener isn't going to care if you can read or not. And that's what it boils down to, is what the listener wants to hear.

If you want to make money, you'll have a very hard time doing it without knowing how to sight read. And that's simple reality.
Of course not, but I don't thing a Rock guitar player who makes his money playing rock guitar will be picking up a classical piece to make money off of it. But of the guitar players that do make money, I bet dollars to doughnuts some of todays best guitarists can't read.

And some of today's most successful CEO's don't have a master's degree. But look at the percentages of people who MAKE A LIVING at playing guitar and you'll find that those who can't read are an insignificant percentage. Sure, if you're lucky enough to get discovered, get a good producer, get a good contract or tie into an indie label, then you might be able to make a living playing your own material. And if you're playing your own material, you don't have to know how to read music to be successful enough to earn a living playing music.

If you know how to read you have far more options: studio musician, pit musician, musical director, conductor, music teacher, and the list goes on. The best sight readers who are trying to earn a living playing music are frequently turning down work because their calendar is too full. They're competing for the band leader slots at gigs (which at scale pays a very nice wage).

Lots of guitarists will look at guys like Clapton or B.B. King or other legends and think that is what it means to have a pro career. It's not. Look instead to the guy who lives in a big city, and he plays in a pit orchestra 4 nights a week and 2 shows on Sunday at scale wages, and he has a half-dozen students, and he is in wedding band or jazz band that gigs regularly. He is well known around town, he gets calls from recording studios to do studio work. He gets calls from club managers when they need someone to comp behind a vocalist, and he will even get calls from big name bands when one of their disposable musicians is sick and they need a guy to play their sold out show.

That guy can pay the rent, buy some clothes, have a wife and kids, and live as a musician. Oh, he won't be rich. But he will do more than get by.

6 shows a week is about 15 hours a week, at current scale rates for my local that's $45,000 a year. 6 students at $50 a week each is another $15,000 a year. A well known, well managed small local band can clear $100 or so a week each in CD sales and gate, so that's another $5,000 to the party. And if the guy gets 6 calls a year for studio work (25 minutes of recorded music each time) that's $4,000. If he's good, maybe he'll be the leader for one of those sessions, making it $5,000. And lastly he's got his wedding band -- a nice little 10 man band that books out at $10,000 a night. Our industrious little player is the band leader, and he pays out $500 for his sidemen, and after expenses clears $4 grand for himself and his wife/manager. They get booked 5-6 times a year.

So our busy little pro player, taking 2 full weeks off, is bringing home:

$45,000 + $15,000 + $10,000 + $5,000 + $20,000 = $90,000 a year. And that's not counting in what he might get from doing master classes, perhaps he can teach a little community ed program, and so on.

And I know this guy. He's a friend of mine. He's just as busy with music as I am with my day job. It's taken him just as long to get there as it's taken me. But he does just fine. He sends me students who want to play jazz, I send him folks who are interested in classical fingerstyle and rock -- he's equally good at both.

And no one who doesn't read can come close to that. If a person can't read they either get lucky and make it big, or they don't and struggle to pay the rent, and have to give up any chance of raising a family on their meager take.
This is a beginner's forum. Says so right at the top of my screen -- "Beginner's Q&A Forum." As this is a beginner's forum, I am not too worried about insulting players who are non-readers (or skilled readers, or teachers, for that matter). I'm concerned about discouraging non-players -- beginners -- by insisting they must learn to read ink dots on staff paper.

And some of us who are concerned about beginning students being able to achieve their long term dreams. The concern is that those who keep perpetuating the myth that tab is good enough and that not knowing how to read doesn't mean a person will likely not make a living in music will be believed.
Turning the guitar into an academic exercise is a good way to tell those would-be players to look for another pastime. "You can learn to read music, or you can choose to be illiterate" -- or "a dilettante," or "ignorant" -- clearly tells a lot of beginners to put the instrument down altogether, if that's what we want to do. And that appears to be exactly what some of us want to do.

The reality is that a few minutes each practice session is all that's necessary. It's not painful. It's not some in-depth academic study. And it's not harder than trying to follow a tab exercise to learn a new song. The relative ease of learning to read music while one is first learning to play the instrument makes it even more confusing as to why anyone would choose not to do so! It's a trivial investment with a significant long-term return. And it pays off even for adult students.
Who are we to intimidate these guitar players by insisting they learn to read?

Hopefully not. My hope anyway is that the beginner will recognize the value of learning to read, pick up a beginning book, realize how easy it is, and continue at it along with the rest of their musical education.

Though I'll be the first to admit that I tend to fall into the trap of Internet forums and get a bit too argumentative and terse in my tone. Teaching does happen to be a topic I'm a bit passionate about, and that tends to show in sometimes less than appropriate ways when someone is saying something that I firmly believe has the potential to lead people down dead-end paths.

"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side." -- HST


   
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notes_norton
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<...>
This whole post, and really the whole reason I go off on tangents...is because this whole thread is putting people who can't read music down. <...>

I respectfully disagree. I think the whole thread is to encourage the beginner (This is a beginner's Q&A forum) to learn to read music and to illustrate the advantages one will receive when that is accomplished.

And for those who think reading those dots on paper is a terribly difficult thing, it's not. Sure there is a learning curve, but it's no more difficult than reading this post. Remember how much trouble you had learning your "A-B-C's" when you were young and learning new sentences from your reading primer? Reading music is actually easier than that because there are fewer rules, and no exceptions to the rules.

And if you would prefer to watch TV instead of learning a skill that will better your life, it's your choice. But if you feel inferior because you cannot read music, that is something in your head and you have to deal with it. Learning to read and learning music theory will make you a better musician. But it isn't imperative that you become a better musician. But anyone interested in learning to play an instrument, any instrument, should be encouraged to learn to read music and to learn music theory.

I'm not interested in telling someone who doesn't read music that he/she is either better or worse than I am because he/she cannot read. I do know that however good I am, there will always be better players and worse players. I'm far from the bottom and I'll never be the absolute best in the world (as if that can even be quantified). But I am interested in telling people that if they do learn to read music, and if they do learn music theory, they will be a better musician than they are today.

People have dozens of reasons why they don't read music, "I don't need it", "So-and-so is a big star and he/she can't read music", "It's a waste of time", "It's to academic" and so on. On the other hand, there is only one reason why they should learn, "It will make you a better musician and open the door to understanding music theory.'

I don't teach guitar, but I used to teach saxophone (before the Norton Music business got too time consuming). I would not teach a student who did not want to learn to read music. I split the lessons between the fundamentals (reading and theory) and the fun stuff (whatever the student was interested in).

And pardon me for this addition to the thread. Most TV is mindless, and TV is the biggest drug problem in the USA.

Drug you say? It has all the requirements

  • It's habit forming - make someone quit cold-turkey and watch the personality changes
  • The user needs a stronger and stronger drug as time goes on - TV has gone from "Father Knows Best" to "Sex In The CIty" - B&W CRT tubes to huge HD screens - nuff said about that
  • The drug user cannot tell the difference between the drug induced state and reality - if an actor or actress who plays an evil person on TV goes to the supermarket, people will verbally abuse them as if they actually are the person they play on TV
  • The drug keeps you from being productive - people can't give up one mindless TV show per day to better themselves.
  • I like to travel but I prefer to travel independently. Because I could not drive in The People's Republic of China, after I performed there, I took a 3 week bus tour. This was during the OJ Simpson trials. The tour I chose stayed in Chinese Hotels, ate at Chinese Restaurants, and allowed for independent exploring of the Chinese cities. At night, about a half dozen couples went to the nearest US chain hotel so they could watch the OJ trial. Leilani and I went out on the street, met Chinese people, saw wonderful Chinese music, brought home "Classical" Chinese CDs, saw the Beijing Opera, saw Shanghai acrobats, listened to an arhu player that played so well that she brought tears to our eyes, and brought home wonderful memories of China and the people we interacted with. The TV addicts spent thousands of dollars to go to China and in the evening their TV addiction made them leave China in their minds for something in retrospect didn't mean anything to their lives.

    So hopefully I have convinced a beginner the importance of learning to read music. Hopefully I have convinced a beginner that giving up only one TV show per night and investing that time on his/her guitar will bring more, lasting rewards than that TV show will ever give the student. And perhaps I've convinced one non-beginner to start the journey.

    So don't think about being inferior to anybody if you cannot read. It's not a contest. But think about reading as a way for you to be a better musician than you are now.

    When you are a better musician, you get more pleasure out of playing music.

    Insights and incites by Notes ♫

    Bob "Notes" Norton

    Owner, Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com Add-on Styles for Band-in-a-Box and Microsoft SongSmith

    The Sophisticats http://www.s-cats.com >^. .^< >^. .^<


       
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    Nuno
     Nuno
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    I respectfully disagree. I think the whole thread is to encourage the beginner (This is a beginner's Q&A forum) to learn to read music and to illustrate the advantages one will receive when that is accomplished.
    Notes, I also respectfully disagree.

    When Apache started this thread, it seemed to me very, very interesting. I never was able to sight reading really but I do read, as I said, if the piece is not complex in terms of number of alterations and rhythm. I asked for references. And I will keep practicing.

    The latest posts are not interesting for me. I am sorry. The music for me (and for many other members) is a hobby. I already have a life. I NEVER can be in a dead-end path as KP said. I enjoy playing. I am a beginner and the latest posts only are encouraging me to unsubscribe this thread.

    Learn to read music should be a recommendation or advice: if you want to be a better musician you should be able to read, you could understand the theory and the music in a deep sense, you could create complex works, you could communicate with other musicians in a better way, you could get better jobs, etc.

    Mandatory things are not for me, and it seems if I am not able to read music... I will be as much as Paul McCartney... :wink:

    Anyway, thank you very much for the comments and posts to everyone.


       
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    Crow
     Crow
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    And no, thinking that classical composers are pompus in most cases is not a personal thing, it's a pretty well known fact that 90% of them think they are better than you.

    If you're talking about me and composers who make money at it, then 99% of them are. That just makes at least 89% of them frankly honest and 9% unnecessarily humble and at most1% pompous.

    Wow. That's... just... wow. Egomaniacs aren't usually that honest. Puts a lot of things in perspective. Thanks for that.
    This is a beginner's forum. Says so right at the top of my screen -- "Beginner's Q&A Forum." As this is a beginner's forum, I am not too worried about insulting players who are non-readers (or skilled readers, or teachers, for that matter). I'm concerned about discouraging non-players -- beginners -- by insisting they must learn to read ink dots on staff paper.

    And some of us who are concerned about beginning students being able to achieve their long term dreams. The concern is that those who keep perpetuating the myth that tab is good enough...

    Good enough for what? This is a big part of my point. If you want all of your students to be working pros, you are either 1) deluded, or 2) an extreme optimist.
    ...and that not knowing how to read doesn't mean a person will likely not make a living in music will be believed.

    It's been a long thread. Who exactly said that? Specifics, please?
    Turning the guitar into an academic exercise is a good way to tell those would-be players to look for another pastime. "You can learn to read music, or you can choose to be illiterate" -- or "a dilettante," or "ignorant" -- clearly tells a lot of beginners to put the instrument down altogether, if that's what we want to do. And that appears to be exactly what some of us want to do.

    The reality is that a few minutes each practice session is all that's necessary. It's not painful. It's not some in-depth academic study. And it's not harder than trying to follow a tab exercise to learn a new song. The relative ease of learning to read music while one is first learning to play the instrument makes it even more confusing as to why anyone would choose not to do so! It's a trivial investment with a significant long-term return. And it pays off even for adult students.

    Another part of "the reality" is that the prospect of having to read, in this context -- in a beginner's forum -- is going to chase a lot of people away from the instrument. You're OK with doing that? Fine. You're in good company. In music school (University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music -- class of '96, B.M. in music theory) I saw a lot of eager young musicians chased away from music by rule-crazy professors. It was sad to watch. But, as I noted upthread, maybe that's just a few less ignorant, illiterate dilettantes getting in our way, eh?
    Who are we to intimidate these guitar players by insisting they learn to read?

    Hopefully not. My hope anyway is that the beginner will recognize the value of learning to read, pick up a beginning book, realize how easy it is, and continue at it along with the rest of their musical education.

    Those who are motivated to learn the academic side of music will soon start asking academic questions ("Why is THIS note called 'D-sharp' and THIS one called 'E-flat'?"). At that point, deeper education can and should begin.
    Though I'll be the first to admit that I tend to fall into the trap of Internet forums and get a bit too argumentative and terse in my tone.

    Self-awareness is a valuable trait! :D
    Teaching does happen to be a topic I'm a bit passionate about...

    When did this become a thread about teaching?
    ...and that tends to show in sometimes less than appropriate ways when someone is saying something that I firmly believe has the potential to lead people down dead-end paths.

    Is it a "dead end path" to want to play "Smoke on the Water" at a frat party? I hope there is another teacher in your town who offers to teach those simple pleasures....

    "You can't write a chord ugly enough to say what you want to say sometimes, so you have to rely on a giraffe filled with whipped cream." - Frank Zappa


       
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    Crow
     Crow
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    <...>
    This whole post, and really the whole reason I go off on tangents...is because this whole thread is putting people who can't read music down. <...>

    I respectfully disagree. I think the whole thread is to encourage the beginner (This is a beginner's Q&A forum) to learn to read music and to illustrate the advantages one will receive when that is accomplished.

    Words like "illiterate," "ignorant" and "dilettante" are not "encouraging." Not in any sense.
    And for those who think reading those dots on paper is a terribly difficult thing, it's not. Sure there is a learning curve, but it's no more difficult than reading this post. Remember how much trouble you had learning your "A-B-C's" when you were young and learning new sentences from your reading primer? Reading music is actually easier than that because there are fewer rules, and no exceptions to the rules.

    If, just for the sake of argument, I have spent 12 years getting a high-school diploma, four years getting a bachelor's degree, and another two years obtaining a master's degree -- why, pray tell, should I spend another (innumerable) few years learning to read music, when a Mel Bay chord book can get me strumming songs at parties in about a month?
    And if you would prefer to watch TV instead of learning a skill that will better your life, it's your choice.

    Sure. "If you WANT to be stupid..."
    But if you feel inferior because you cannot read music, that is something in your head and you have to deal with it.

    Another possibility: it's something in other peoples' heads -- those who insist on making you feel inferior -- and you have to deal with THEM.
    Learning to read and learning music theory will make you a better musician. But it isn't imperative that you become a better musician. But anyone interested in learning to play an instrument, any instrument, should be encouraged to learn to read music and to learn music theory.

    No argument whatsoever to these points. Reading music opens doors to unimaginable worlds of beauty. But it's not quite that simple.
    I'm not interested in telling someone who doesn't read music that he/she is either better or worse than I am because he/she cannot read.

    Well, THAT'S refreshing, at least....
    ...I am interested in telling people that if they do learn to read music, and if they do learn music theory, they will be a better musician than they are today.

    I am convinced that my training in music theory slowed my development in improvisation and playing by ear -- aspects of musicianship I feel are just as critical to "complete musicianship." So the definition of "better" is a moving target.
    I would not teach a student who did not want to learn to read music. I split the lessons between the fundamentals (reading and theory) and the fun stuff (whatever the student was interested in).

    Are there other teachers in your town? If not, I should set up shop in your neighborhood for the kids who just want to learn some chords. Ka-ching! :lol:
    So don't think about being inferior to anybody if you cannot read. It's not a contest. But think about reading as a way for you to be a better musician than you are now.

    When you are a better musician, you get more pleasure out of playing music.

    Well-put. My point is, no matter how much of yourself you put into music, you get even more out of it. If you only learn three chords in order to play just one song, those three chords are going to lead you into places you never dreamed existed. If you pursue it further, you will find unbelievable beauty. But NONE OF IT IS MANDATORY.

    "You can't write a chord ugly enough to say what you want to say sometimes, so you have to rely on a giraffe filled with whipped cream." - Frank Zappa


       
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    Hyperborea
    (@hyperborea)
    Prominent Member
    Joined: 16 years ago
    Posts: 827
     

    If I put paint onto a canvas which already has a black and white picture on it with colour codes am I a painter? Does it make a difference whether I'm a painter or not if I enjoy putting the paint on the colour labeled picture or if I (or others) like the results? Is it instead a hobby/pastime which may or may not be an enjoyable way to unwind from my day job? It might even be a step on the way to being a painter but I wouldn't be one yet, would I?

    There's nothing wrong at all with staying with the paint by numbers as a hobby but it is what it is.

    Pop music is about stealing pocket money from children. - Ian Anderson


       
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