[Harp-L] we're here for a good time-trooper

Richard Hunter rhunter377@xxxxx
Wed Jul 26 11:18:12 EDT 2017

I learned to read--barely--as a piano student in my single-digit years.  I
didn't become proficient at sight-reading until I was in college, where the
ability to sight-read a piano score at a certain level of proficiency was
mandatory.  I spent a half hour or so almost every day of my freshman year
practicing sight-reading, with the guidance of a tutor assigned by the
music department (which I think was pretty nice of them given that I wasn't
yet accepted as a music major, and had already made it clear that I was
much more interested in jazz/rock/funk than classical).

I've never regretted that investment of time. It opened a lot of
opportunities for me; among other things, for a while I was more or less
the only harmonica player in Boston who could read well enough on diatonic
and chromatic not to screw up a jingle session with 5 other people
playing.  Reading made it possible for me to read and write transcriptions
of solos, which helped me tremendously in learning how those solos were
constructed.  When someone says "just figure it out by ear", I wonder: how
do you think I made the transcriptions?  A transcription is nothing more
than a visual representation of what you heard.  I'm no longer surprised
when I find, by checking a transcription, that my memory of a solo is
inaccurate.  Memories shift and fade; a transcription doesn't change.

Like I said before, if you don't need to read to play the music you want to
play, fine by me.  Go forth and prosper.  if you've got a lot of curiosity
about the wide world of music, and you want to accelerate your learning,
reading helps.

I'm still not a great reader.  I read an interview with one of Jeff Beck's
keyboard players where he said he did a session with the London
Philharmonic where he had to read a score that was roughly as complex as a
Prokofiev concerto.  (He went outside and threw up afterwards.)  I'll never
be that competent where reading is concerned.  But I don't need to be.
Figure out what your ambition is, and prepare accordingly.

Thansk, RH

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