I’ve given myself one year to master the violin.

As an adult beginner, I should be playing Twinkle Twinkle; instead, I'm playing Paganini's 24th caprice.

Can I Read Music?

Since working as a resident advisor at the Colburn Conservatory allows me to hang around some the world’s finest musicians on a daily basis, many of them have expressed interest in the blog.  Far and away, after viewing the videos in the last several posts, the most asked question has been “can you read music?”

I think my naivety is kicking in here because whenever anyone asks that, my first thought is “why would I care about reading music?”

OK, OK, so I can read a little music, but the question is, what does it mean to know how to read music?  To be honest, it’s not hard to just read the notes.  Here, you can read music too:

Now everyone can read music! (as far as the treble clef goes, anyway)

The question of whether or not I can read music might arise because of my videos.  Take a look:

It seems like I’m looking at the music stand, but I’m really just looking at my hands.  Whenever I play anything, whether it’s for ten seconds or a minute or more, I actually just have to memorize it.  In other words, when this year’s over, I probably will be closer to reading music than I am now, but it’s not something I’m going to actively work on.

As far as the Paganini goes, it looks like I’ll be memorizing it.  Isn’t that what a real musician would do for a recital anyway?

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One Comment on “Can I Read Music?”

  1. The Father in Law says:

    Since I don’t think you will get much agreement with your attitude about learning to read music from your colleges at Colburn, I thought I’d chime in with some support. Why bother with those confusing scores and notes when there is always the option of “tablature”. Tablature is that nice system where each instrument has it’s own notation. Instead of a score that just anybody in the orchestra can read, you have one that is just for your instrument. The lines of the score are changed to be the strings and there are little numbers on them to show what finger goes on what fret. “Fret”? Yes, I know, some of you string players are unfortunate enough to have instruments on which the maker forgot to insert the little metal frets on every half-step of the neck. Kind of like permanent tapes, only better since they stick up above the neck enough so that if you put your finger anywhere near the right location, you get the note in tune. Guitarist, Banjo players, and other love it. I don’t think tablature ever caught on for the piano and the harp. So, look around, Caprice #24 must be available in tablature somewhere. 🙂


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