This morning, I was reading a Post from a Blogger who I have known since the creation of this Blog
I learned to play music by ear (mainly guitar, but a little piano also). Playing by ear took a lot of the frustration out of learning to play because once I had created the sound that I wanted … I was happy! It also provided for unplanned experimentation as I simply hunted for the right notes which, in turn, provided a basis for jamming/improvisation.
I have known a few people who learned to read music, but the pleasure seems to be shrouded in clouds of finding the precise notes at the right time. I can understand a desire to reproduce exactly what was originally written, but is that detail really worth the inevitable frustrations? If the intent is to play for a critical audience, then of course it is necessary, but for me who just wanted to create a sound that represented a piece of music that I like?
I once volunteered at a hospital where I was partnered with an English lady for a few shifts. I found out that she could not only play piano, but was very proficient with it. Eventually, she was invited to our home for a dinner and we asked her to play for us. I had sheet music for a few classical pieces which, after a few moments of adapting to our keyboard (organ) she played extremely well. Chopin and Bach were well within her abilities.
Once our minimal supply of sheet music had been exhausted, I suggested that she play anything that she wanted. It went very quiet! Apparently, without the sheet music, there was simply no music. I tried to get her to improvise based on some chords that I would play but, again, no sheet music = no music.
The significance of being able to read music is (hopefully) obvious but, to anybody with a basic desire to create music, let’s not forget simply pressing keys (or equivalent) until you find that elusive sound. Purists may well consider us “players by ear” rather less than “real musicians”, but that just shows a lack of imagination and creativity on their part. Music is a creative art form, and to stifle creativity in any manner simply removes any credibility of the “critic”.
For anybody contemplating learning to play a musical instrument, there are many options available to you, but don’t discount simply experimenting until you found your own personal sound.
There has to be an analogy of life in there somewhere! Just thinking.