Author Topic: Music Advice.  (Read 1658 times)

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snowdragon

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Music Advice.
« on: December 26, 2012, 11:55:40 PM »
I know we have many different occupations - I am hoping we have a couple of musicians/music teachers.

 I take violin, piano and flute. But my violin teacher is giving me fits.  We simply don't speak the same language. It's almost like I am speaking Anglo-Saxon and he is speaking English. - Similar words, way different meanings.

  Tonight we got into it because I was complaining to him that I want to read music well enough that I can take sheet music to the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and read along with the musicians. And he does not understand how that is "reading" he calls it "following", ok we got that one straightened out, but there are other things I know I need to know but can't explain what I am looking for. ( It does not help that this man is a musical prodigy and was playing with symphonies at 10 - so what he takes for granted is what I am trying to learn as an adult.  Kids find it easier to learn from him as he is teaching them his "language" for concepts that they do not have yet, where as I have the concepts - but use different words)   What I am hoping is that someone can direct me to some books on music theory, that will help me learn to read proficiently and to understand and use musical terminology.
Thanks so much

yellowpineapple

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Re: Music Advice.
« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2012, 12:15:24 AM »
I would be happy to help you, give me a little while to think about some books that might help you.  (If you're interested in theory, it's usually keyboard-based, and your piano teacher might have some suggestions for you, too.)  But, as a string player, I just wanted you to know that I use the term "reading" exactly how you meant it.  Otherwise, I think of it as playing by ear.  You may not have the same level of proficiency on the violin as the orchestra members, but you certainly are reading the notes on the page.  I think he's splitting hairs, tbh.  ;)




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katycoo

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Re: Music Advice.
« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2012, 12:15:58 AM »
Sorry, can't help.  Its my experience that reading music is directly linked to being able to play at the same level of fluency.  I play piano but not well.  I cannot sight read music, instead I translate it.  If I practised playing more, my music reading abaility would increase, I'm certain.  I'm not sure its a language you can learn without speaking it iykwim.

Slartibartfast

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Re: Music Advice.
« Reply #3 on: December 27, 2012, 12:24:51 AM »
I have a degree in music (specifically in composition) - I could recommend some textbook-type material, but I don't know any "beginner music theory" off the top of my head.  That said, I did teach theory lessons for a while for a friend of mine who wanted pretty much exactly what you do - he mostly wanted to be able to read along to the hymns in church and understand what the music actually means.  You may be able to find someone locally who will do "theory-only" lessons in how to read music and how music fits together.  (I find those two things intertwined; many people would say they don't have to be.)

perpetua

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Re: Music Advice.
« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2012, 03:52:23 AM »
Your teacher is correct; reading the music without playing it yourself while other people perform it *is* called 'following' it. Following along. Reading in musical terms means reading the music while you are playing it. It's not used in the same way as 'reading a book', it refers to the actual act of reading the music while you play. Like 'reading a script' while you speak it aloud.

Katycoo is also correct. 'Being able to read music' means 'I am fluent in the language of music and can interpret what is on the page. I know what notes the symbols instruct me to play and I know what the terms mean and I can therefore play a piece by translating the dots and 'instructions' on the page into a musical performance when it is put in front of me'

So yes, in essence, 'reading music' is 'translating what's on the page into a performance' while 'following' is what you describe - being able to follow along on the sheet music while other people play it.

And then there's 'sightreading' which is something else entirely, ie, being able to play a piece the first time it's put in front of you, but probably best not to confuse with that :)

Similar words, but different meanings as you say.

There are many books on music theory that will teach you the terms; in the UK where I live the go-to bible is the Associated Board Guide to Music Theory by Eric Taylor, here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1854724460/?tag=hydra0b-21&hvadid=9550944309&ref=asc_df_1854724460 - you may be able to find something similar in your locale.

Are there any other specific terms giving you trouble? If you can describe what it is you want to do, then perhaps we can translate that into musical terms that will enable you to find the right material to be able to learn it?
« Last Edit: December 27, 2012, 03:54:28 AM by perpetua »

lady_disdain

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Re: Music Advice.
« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2012, 05:08:22 AM »
Sorry, can't help.  Its my experience that reading music is directly linked to being able to play at the same level of fluency.  I play piano but not well.  I cannot sight read music, instead I translate it.  If I practised playing more, my music reading abaility would increase, I'm certain.  I'm not sure its a language you can learn without speaking it iykwim.

I disagree. I can read music well enough to hear it in my mind or hum it out but don't ask me to play it...

Cambridge University has a series of introductory music books by Roy Bennett (thin little volumes that are quite interesting) which includes one on how to read sheet music along with the orchestra that I quite like.

katycoo

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Re: Music Advice.
« Reply #6 on: December 27, 2012, 06:18:26 AM »
Sorry, can't help.  Its my experience that reading music is directly linked to being able to play at the same level of fluency.  I play piano but not well.  I cannot sight read music, instead I translate it.  If I practised playing more, my music reading abaility would increase, I'm certain.  I'm not sure its a language you can learn without speaking it iykwim.

I disagree. I can read music well enough to hear it in Imy mind or hum it out but don't ask me to play it...

Cambridge University has a series of introductory music books by Roy Bennett (thin little volumes that are quite interesting) which includes one on how to read sheet music along with the orchestra that I quite like.

I didn't say it couldn't be done. Just that I can't. I am not sure it is a skill that just anyone can develop. I suspect there may be a natural knack requirement. I could well be wrong though.

JennJenn68

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Re: Music Advice.
« Reply #7 on: December 27, 2012, 07:10:25 AM »
I know that when I was first being taught musical rudiments (Royal Conservatory, in Ontario, Canada) we used the books by Barbara Wharram.  They're still around; I've seen them in the music stores.  They're not too "childish" ; I've used them occasionally with my adult piano students.   

I question, however, the idea of taking sheet music along to read during a concert--every concert I've ever been to involved lowering lights to the extent that I wouldn't have been able to follow without a flashlight, which would be very discourteous to the other patrons.  To my mind, it would be on the order of taking the script along when attending a play, and would be rather distracting to those around you.  If you're that curious about a particular piece of music, get hold of a recording and follow along with the score in the privacy of your own home.  (That is, in fact, the best way to learn how to follow, and that way you can stop and start if you want to make notes.)

WillyNilly

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Re: Music Advice.
« Reply #8 on: December 27, 2012, 10:24:32 AM »
I do not play any instrument nor can I read (or follow) sheet music, so maybe this is moot advice, but I have been a student and what I think is: you need a different teacher.  This is supposed to be fun for you, right?  If you are "getting into it" with your teacher, and feel you speak different languages and think he doesn't get your difficulties because he was a child prodigy and you are an adult hobbyist... well why not just find the teacher that fits your life and your needs and your learning style?

jaxsue

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Re: Music Advice.
« Reply #9 on: December 27, 2012, 10:46:42 AM »
Interesting thread. I come from a very musical family. And, although I no longer play any instruments (my choice, was tired of following the family tradition), I can read music. Just don't ask me to play it...on anything!  ;)

Then there is my DS #2. He can't read a note, but he is very gifted on percussion (cue the drummer jokes!) and bass. He can "write" music, but not in the traditional sense. He has zero training; didn't spend a day in school band and I never sent him to music lessons. But he has a natural bent towards music.

I find the many variations fascinating.


snowdragon

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Re: Music Advice.
« Reply #10 on: December 27, 2012, 11:52:26 AM »
I do not play any instrument nor can I read (or follow) sheet music, so maybe this is moot advice, but I have been a student and what I think is: you need a different teacher.  This is supposed to be fun for you, right?  If you are "getting into it" with your teacher, and feel you speak different languages and think he doesn't get your difficulties because he was a child prodigy and you are an adult hobbyist... well why not just find the teacher that fits your life and your needs and your learning style?

Because he is the only one with in 30 miles of me that teaches adults.  I've tried finding another teacher and have not found one that will teach adults. Most prefer to have people start at anywhere from 3 to 8 years old.  I am looking into Skype lessons or a Fiddle camp for the summer

NutMeg

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Re: Music Advice.
« Reply #11 on: December 27, 2012, 03:18:35 PM »
I didn't say it couldn't be done. Just that I can't. I am not sure it is a skill that just anyone can develop. I suspect there may be a natural knack requirement. I could well be wrong though.

It is absolutely a skill anyone can develop, it just requires practice. Something I would recommend snowdragon, is to find recordings of pieces that you have sheet music for. Practice following along to the recording, and by this I mean trying to match what you are seeing on the page to the notes you are hearing, rather than playing along. I think this is a better bet than bringing sheet music to a performance, as you can pause and rewind as need be, and you will not be disturbing the performers.

I would also suggest just trying to train your ears to pick things out. Get some good recordings of orchestral or wind band pieces, and try to pick out different instruments and lines while listening. Try to practice active and analytical listening, rather than just enjoying the sounds.

Next, I found a Youtube channel that seems to have a good selection of music theory videos, http://www.youtube.com/user/musictheoryguy. I haven't watched through them, but it seems pretty comprehensive. Try watching them, and then, and this is the most important part, start looking for those things in the pieces you are playing and listening to.

Find someone to play duets with, outside of your lessons, on whatever instrument you want. The art of playing a line and being able to listen to how another line fits in with it is an invaluable skill. It is kind of like learning to drive a car. At first you are so overwhelmed with the basics (speed, position in your lane, mirror checks, or pitch and rhythm) that you don't have any attention left for the subtleties (planing your route to deal with an accident, or altering your pitch to better fit the chord). As you make the basics more and more automatic, you have more brain power left to deal with the little things that make you an expert.

I've been playing various instruments for over half my life, and really the best advice I can give you is to listen. Listen to yourself as you play, and listen to others as they play. What do you hear? Listen to the notes, the rhythms, the phrasings, the timbres. Listen to monophonic pieces (with just one voice), and then polyphonic pieces (with more than one voice). How do the parts fit together? How do the timbres compliment each other? Can you hear similarities between different pieces? How can you tell if a piece is ending? What happens to make you think that?

Best of luck. This is an amazing journey you have embarked upon, and I hope you will have as much fun with it as I have.
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Steve

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Re: Music Advice.
« Reply #12 on: December 28, 2012, 04:54:02 AM »
It sounds to me like he is trying to teach you the terms and you are just not having it. If you will not accept his explanation on what reading and following mean, you are simply unwilling to learn from this guy. He might have a lot to teach but you seem to refer terms he tries to teach you to the realm of 'his english is just different'.

I suggest you either change teachers or attitude, because you are not getting out of this what you want at this moment.



RegionMom

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Re: Music Advice.
« Reply #13 on: December 28, 2012, 10:16:06 AM »
Nutmeg had some great advice, as well as others.

I am a piano teacher, and one of the first things I tell people who ask about lessons is, "have a first interview to determine if it is a good fit.  Does the student want to learn pop music or hymns, composing, do guild competions, is there common ground, etc..." and likewise for the teacher-- will there be recitals? How much practice is expected?  theory?  guilds?  expectations of playing vs practice vs performing, and family support?  same book series used for all students, or adapted and changed?  Why does the student was to take lessons?

Since you have the only one option (ask around-- I have heard the same thing, to be pleasantly surprised...word of mouth and various advertising spread the message) I would ask for time after a lesson to just talk, as two adults. 

explain what you expect, and really listen as he answers.  Are your expectations unrealistic?  Is he preparing you for what you want, but in a different way? 

Now, since you already play piano and flute, it may just be a language barrier of sorts.
how proficient is your piano?  I have subbed for band and orchestra and can follow along with the score, but I have no idea the fingerings, and some vocabulary i do not know for strings. 
has your violin teacher heard you play other instruments?  he may not realize what you do know, and is set in his ways from teaching children who need exact words, not nuances, since he is setting up their music vocabulary from scratch.

So, talk it over with him, off the clock, and see if you can find common ground. 

Congrats on continuing your muscial journey!
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Slartibartfast

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Re: Music Advice.
« Reply #14 on: December 28, 2012, 03:44:01 PM »
I'd also suggest that if you can't find teachers who take adult students, you might want to contact local church choir directors and/or music faculty at a local college (if you have one).  Even if they personally don't want to take on an adult student, they may know someone who doesn't normally teach but would be willing to take on an adult wanting to learn theory and not a specific instrument.  The professional music community most places (even cities) is usually pretty small.