How to Read Music: The Musical Way

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Although the direct mapping approach in a “Better Way to Read” is a vast improvement over the “read and name one note at a time and use crutches and count up and down approach”, it still suffers from a fundamental shortcoming: It is like “playing by number”, devoid of musical understanding. We can do better.

To that end, here are some points regarding expert (musical) music reading:

  • Reading music is a highly learn-able skill.
  • Learning to read music is not a talent any more than learning to read English is a talent.
  • Learning to read music is analogous to learning a language. By listening, reading, writing, and speaking, one builds an expanding vocabulary and grammar, developing the power to comprehend and communicate an unbounded variety of meanings.
  • Expert readers do not have some super human ability to process meaningless, unrelated information.
  • Expert readers are trained seekers, conceivers, organizers, and rememberers of meaningful patterns.
  • Expert music readers read notes like you are reading these words… in meaningful chunks called words, phrases, and sentences.
  • Expert readers see each note in the context of larger, musically-meaningful patterns.
  • Reading expertise grows by studying musically-useful patterns… scales, chords, chord progressions, rhythms, solfege, form, chord voicings, phrasing, key signatures, time signatures, key changes, characteristic stylistic devices, and so on.

LEARN MORE… An Example of Expert Music Reading



    1. I know it can feel overwhelming, Paula, but it will happen faster than you think… once a solid foundation in scales and harmony are in place. That said, please do let me know how your musical journey unfolds. Cheers!


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