You are here

Sheet music, to be read unseen or an aid to memory?

Arrangement, instrumentation, lyric writing, music theory, inspiration… it’s all here.

Sheet music, to be read unseen or an aid to memory?

Postby jellyjim » Fri Nov 11, 2016 2:10 am

So every now and then I get out some sheet music and tinkle on the piano and marvel at how utterly rusty I've become at reading music. Often I catch myself not reading the note at all but reading the distance fom the last one I played, and all manner of other shortcuts and bad habits no doubt.

It occured to me this evening, is sheet music meant to be read unseen - like a novel or a newspaper or the instructions on the back of a shampoo bottle - or is it meant only as an aid to memory? That is to say, it becomes more playable the more you read it ... if that makes sense!

User avatar
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1544
Joined: Wed May 15, 2002 12:00 am
Location: uk
Original artwork and unique devices inspired by vintage technology

Re: Sheet music, to be read unseen or an aid to memory?

Postby One Horse Town » Fri Nov 11, 2016 9:55 am

I think both of your scenarios are equally valid. Sight reading is a very useful skill....that's why exam boards such as ABRSM include it in their assessment of a musician's ability. Equally, having mastered a piece you can approach it like a decent novel - where understanding sub plots and complex character development is akin to dealing with how the various parts in Bach's 4-part fugues should be emphasised etc. It's fascinating stuff - in my case not so much fun working through grades and diplomas - but the consequent skills you acquire increase your musical abilities and appreciation of it to a higher level in my opinion. Button twiddling is all well and good but rather like a surgeons who have learned their craft over time, it's not just about making the right moves and using the latest equipment, it's about applying all of that in an informed manner.
One Horse Town
Posts: 463
Joined: Sat Apr 04, 2009 12:00 am

Re: Sheet music, to be read unseen or an aid to memory?

Postby damoore » Fri Nov 11, 2016 3:28 pm

Playing at speed from previously unseen music is definitely hard. One gets better with practice. But one also learns the style of a given body of music; Mozart, say, or a style of jazz. A big part of learning to read chordal music is recognizing the chords like you recognize whole words when reading.

Learning to play by ear and to read and sing a melodic line from sheet music are also really good tools. Sometimes reading "from scratch", if you can read the top line and the chords, you can fake the rest for a bar or two if your reading has fallen behind.
Frequent Poster
Posts: 988
Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2009 12:00 am
Location: New Hampshire

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users