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

Michael Rubin michaelrubinharmonica@xxxxx
Wed Jul 26 12:00:40 EDT 2017

I played harp for a month, figured out how to play a single note and got
out my mom's piano books.  I knew the songs and picked them out by ear.  I
realized every time I played 6 draw, the note was there on the staff.  The
books were luckily in the key of C.  I taught myself the location of the
notes without knowing the names of the notes.  I spent a year reading music
for 3 hours a day.  I knew nothing about timing nor sharps and flats, so
some songs sounded funny.

I was in a band a year later.  My bandmate, who was 15 years old, told me
to get a chromatic harp because all pro harp players must play them.

I started college a bit early, at 17 years old.  There was a week of
acclimation before classes started.  I wasn't a music major, but I went to
the jazz improv teacher and asked if I could take his class on the chrome.
He asked if I knew the 12 major scales.  I had never heard of the 12 major
scales.  I lied and said yes.  He agreed to let me take the class.

That morning I met a guy in the dorms who played piano.  He wrote out the
12 major scales for me.  I memorized them by the following week.  By this
point I had figured out how to read sharps and flats.

I used my ear to read the timing of the melodies.

Fast forward 10 years.  I got the call to audition for the orchestra pit of
a Broadway play.  I played very well in my audition.  They had me read
music.  Afterwards, the auditioner said, "You can read music?"  I lied and
said yes.  He asked again, "You can read music?"  I lied and said yes.

It was not actually a lie,  I CAN read music, I just hadn't learned to YET.

I got the gig.

I took two lessons from two different instructors.  The gig started
rehearsals in 2 weeks.  While I quit my job, got rid of my apartment, put
my stuff in storage, etc, I also practiced reading music around 8 hours a
day and continued a couple of hours a day throughout the year of that gig.

Someone hipped me to Louis Bellson and that really upped my game.

I have a belief that if I could learn to read only by intervals, it would
improve my ability by a lot, but I haven't put the time in.
Michael Rubin

On Wed, Jul 26, 2017 at 10:18 AM, Richard Hunter <rhunter377 at xxxxx>

> 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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