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Why learn music?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Axtman, Dec 8, 2012.

  1. Axtman

    Axtman Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2008
    Seattle, Washington
    Why are "musicians" so resistant to learning music? I know many people that are involved with music in bands that can't read standard notation an don't know a thing about theory.
  2. El-Bob

    El-Bob Supporting Member

    Oct 22, 2006
    Hamilton, ON
    Standard notation is just a language music is written in... The other things are far more important, and I am ashamed to admit that I know very little of it other than the basics scale and chord constructions.
  3. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    They have managed to get by somehow without having to do it so far. The older you are the harder it is to go back and put forth the effort. It's annoying trying to explain to a guitar player that he is playing the wrong voicing of a chord. The deer in the headlights look drives me nuts. I actually have to go over and put my hand on his fret board and say "just play it like this..... every time..... every single time."
  4. Axtman

    Axtman Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2008
    Seattle, Washington
    I am certainly no great shakes as far as sight reading or theory goes.....but I try. I feel embarrassed that I know as little as I do and am really trying to put forth the effort to learn and grow.

    It frustrates me to see people with a total disregard and unwillingness to learn.

    I guess that I should not care since they are only limiting themselves.
  5. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Bingo. Do your thing. Work with everyone you come in contact with the best way you can. But keep bettering yourself.
  6. eddododo


    Apr 7, 2010
    Its alot like being illiterate.. Its not necessary to read to communicate, but I would say that the gorgeous subtleties of hemingways language would be lost on the illiterate..

    Theres always exceptions of course, but reading music and understanding the science is an invaluable tool... there are a lot of guys who are super talented and can play really well by ear, but I, for example, play well by ear, but also read like a monster and play non-intuitive/ atomal music by ear, thanks to understanding the.language and science
  7. steve_rolfeca

    steve_rolfeca Supporting Member

    Given that I started reading at age 8, I probably have very little credibility when I talk about how easy it is to learn theory.

    But my friend Marcel is another matter.

    Marcel was a self-taught musician when I met him two years ago. Proficient on piano and guitar, he had virtually no theory, and believed he could only play in the key of C. He also believed that he was too old to learn theory, or how to read.

    He has broad musical tastes, but only played a narrow range of simple 50's pop and country gospel songs.

    In after-gig conversations and rehearsals, I showed him how to transpose with a capo more effectively, which led to realizing that he could play in a couple more keys. About 6 months ago, he decided to pursue lessons. He was very specific with prospective teachers: he wanted task-oriented teaching, with total control of lesson content, he didn't want any discussion of topics that didn't interest him, and he was NOT going to learn to read.

    In the last six months, he has had an explosion of creativity. As his confidence in his abilities has improved, and as he's started to see the potential, he's become a voracious learner. He's now playing material that he never thought he could, and he's starting to write stuff that's far beyond the stereotypical 3 chord trick knock-offs that he used to create.

    Learning has expanded his horizons, and enhanced his enjoyment of music. It hasn't stolen his mojo, and he hasn't turned into a soulless drone. If anything, his personality and character are more visible in his musical output.

    This takes me back to my boyhood, hanging around my dad's teaching studio. Growing up, our house was a hive of musical creativity and and experimentation, a community of people sharing their love of music together.

    People can cherish their ignorance. They can hold back, out of fear. But if you haven't tried it, and especially if you haven't tried it with the help of a really helpful and simpatico teacher, then you don't know what you're missing. Peace out.
  8. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    If you learn to speak a foreign language without learning to read it, you can get by ok in a foreign country. You'll never write great poetry in that language, but you'll certainly be able to sing.

    I can't read, but I can play. I may not be the best at what I do, but I've been doing it for 25 years.

    I agree that it's good to be able to read, but it's a real bitch to learn once you already play.
  9. +1. why am i thinking about Miles right now i wonder. part of this all begs the question: So What?

    to clarify: I've been playing and reading music for a couple decades now, its second nature after that time. But if someone can lay it down without reading, then so what? If you want to learn, all the better you'll be. Do it for you. Don't judge the guy next to you, you don't live for him. You do it for you.

    Learn it if YOU want to learn it.

    Otherwise, well, you needn't.
  10. Cycho


    Nov 30, 2010
    I don't think reading music and knowing music theory should be lumped together. I can do both, but I think music theory is WAY more important. In the bands I play in I rarely see a written out part, but music theory informs my playing and allows me to communicate with my band mates.
  11. Jhengsman


    Oct 17, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    Unlike formal students who have to read for their grade in bands charts are not written or bought as they depend upon chord symbols and maybe tabs to get close enough for the ear to work. Thus learning to read would be like learning a foreign language that nobody else around you uses. One day you might find a use for the language but in everyday life it is a useless skill
  12. El-Bob

    El-Bob Supporting Member

    Oct 22, 2006
    Hamilton, ON
    Very encouraging story, thanks for sharing!
  13. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    Most electric bassists face two barriers: Age, and a chance to practice the skill.

    I think the analogy to literacy is a poor one. Depending on the genres that one is interested in, it's possible to be a functional musician without reading. Gigs that require reading tend to be covered by a pretty small cadre of players.

    Disclaimer: I'm a fluent sight-reader. But I'm not going to knock non-readers.
  14. Unrepresented

    Unrepresented Something Borderline Offensive

    Jul 1, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    If you're playing music, you've learned some music. It's not a black and white issue, but rather a whole lotta shades of gray.

    Reading is one aspect that I actually put some time into trying to learn after years of playing. It's hard. My ears cheat on stuff I already know, since I've largely learned to play by ear. I will never be a site reader, and honestly, none of the bands I've ever played with have required it. The listener won't know the difference, so in the end, it's all up to what your fellow musicians demand of you.
  15. Smallmouth_Bass


    Dec 29, 2005
    It depends what your goals with music are. The majority of people are hobbyists and as such, don't have the need, time or will to learn all the details. Learning some songs they like, maybe playing with others or being in a band is fine and that's okay.

    If you are a professional, it's a requirement to have basic and advanced skills which include reading standard notation, theory and having good relative pitch.
  16. I wouldn't mind learning to read, but at the age of 58 I don't really see the need, other than for my own pleasure. I know enough theory so that it's not completely foreign to me, although the need for a comprehensive knowledge of music theory isn't really that necessary when you're the bass player in a Tom Petty tribute band. I do think, however, that fretboard knowledge and interval training is probably the most important thing most bassists will need.
  17. lfmn16


    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    They don't learn music because it takes effort.
  18. fraublugher


    Nov 19, 2004
    ottawa, ontario, canada
    music school retailer

    And sometimes that cadre includes guys who can't read but certainly know the language ie George Benson

    You can teach yourself to play without reading ,but the further along you go the longer it will take .
  19. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    The only advice I would give about reading is this: If you are at an age where your brain is still wired for rapid learning, and somebody gives you a chance to learn how to sight read (such as joining the school jazz band or playing classical music), take it.
  20. The more words you learn, the more you would write.
    The more color blends you learn, the more you could paint.
    The more music theory you know, more kinds of music you could make.