24. Where Do “The Musically Handicapped” Come From?
The current system of music education, accepted by most teachers in many parts of the world, cripples one population of students after the other and causes incurable harm to the music of the world. While this continues to happen, not a word can be uttered about the salvation of music! Each educator that begins to teach with the ALPHABETICAL REPRESENTATION of notes should know that he is threatening the student’s music perception with execution, and gives the student a handicap. Why? Because the alphabetical system excludes the voice from the essential process of musical development.
A letter is an abstract graphic symbol of the secondary signal system, and sound is a phonetic occurrence of the first signal system. The pitch of a sound and a graphic symbol have no physical relation to each other. But they can be tied together, if the symbol is pronounced or sung out loud. The voice of a person is the tie between sounds and abstract symbols. It is specifically because of this that every letter and sound has an articulated name. This creates a relationship between sounds and symbols; only the voice can pass on a name to letters or notes. Both speech and music were born in the human throat. Only the voice of a person can sing out and name a note at the same time! Moreover, only the voice can connect the perception of a symbol and its sound into a single whole.
The Alphabetical System was created for the simplification of separate, specific musical activities. As I will explain in the next section, it is very uncomfortable to sing notes with this system and therefore it excludes the voice from the process of note familiarization. Thus, it relies on an already established music-analytical thought process and a developed memory. Its application in music education isn’t anything but the most unnatural attempt to connect sounds and symbols without the participation of the voice. The selection of the “note symbols” here is incidental – it is simply the mechanical order of the letters in the alphabet. In this case, the most important quality of musical speech suffers – its articulatory nature: unlike the Solfeggio syllables, the voicing of letters is unnatural and uncomfortable for singing with the voice.
Without reading the notes on the Grand Staff aloud, students simply can’t tie their sounds to their visual representations. Yet the teachers are convinced of this strange practice’s sanctity. They authoritatively declare that it is simply “part of the hardship and suffering, without which music progress isn’t possible!” On the other hand, toddlers that are taught to sing along in Solfeggio while they learn to play songs quickly progress to a multitude of complex pieces, and without any of those “inescapable” sufferings. This was revealed to be quite easy – it was enough to find the natural paths of the perception and development of speech.
The Alphabet System demands a confident knowledge of letters, which makes teaching music to preschoolers very difficult. We’re losing a very important developmental period! At 3-4 years old, a person can already sing, play and read notes, and not only develop those very musical abilities, but also can develop his mind for the successful study of other academic subjects.
The Alphabet System isn’t the only thing that is confusing and burdening to students in traditional piano lessons. Music education squeezes out those that need it most: people with an undeveloped music ear. Here, just as in the jungles, only the fittest survive: those that have received the gift of talent from nature. Quickly passing through the first stages of development, these lucky savants practically develop on their own. However, people with such talents are very few.
The rest of us graduate from music school without ever mastering all of the skills necessary to build a strong base; we become musically handicapped. There are two different types of handicapped: The Readers and The Hearers.
The Readers are those that crammed and memorized their way to a perfect, mechanical reading of music text. They are the musicians that can fluently read from sheet music, but can’t play by ear, compose, or improvise. They experience a constant dependence on sheet music. This is natural – in the process of mechanical reading, neither hearing nor musical thinking are developed.
The Hearers are those that have a well-developed music ear and music memory. They memorize music faster than they can read it by notes. Musicians that can easily improvise and can play by ear, yet can’t freely read sheet music, come from this group.
Both one group and the other are cut off from half of their potential musical abilities. Imagine a city where half of the residents cannot use their legs, and the other half have sworn never to use their arms. Our musicians are just like this. The Readers limit themselves exclusively to music that has already been written, and never apply themselves to musical creativity. Often they cannot play a piece all the way through after forgetting a chord or several notes. A person stutters in the same way if he has crammed a text in a foreign language. The Hearers, in contrast, cannot read what has already been written, sharply narrowing their musical horizons to personal auditory experience. They often compose that which has already been written. And even having composed something very interesting, they are limited to the simple genres: without writing, the composition of complex music isn’t possible.
 C, D, E, F, G, A, B
 Raymond Corsini’s “Dictionary of Psychology” defines the second signal system as “human language and symbolic knowledge based, according to Ivan Pavlov, on the first signaling system (first order classical conditioning to external stimuli). Derives from individual experience within a culture and depends on language, abstraction, generalization, analysis, and synthesis.”
 Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Ti