71. To Complicate is Easy, to Simplify is Hard
Once, a woman from New York called me. Her daughter takes piano lessons. Her technique isn’t bad, and she easily memorizes music, but almost can’t read from sheet music at all; a typical example of a “musical handicap” when the alphabetical system is used in piano lessons. After purchasing our program, the mother and daughter started to make up for what they missed: they read and played through collections of songs, one after another, in Gentle Piano.
Shortly after, the mother called me to express her gratitude and admiration for the program. I asked her if they worked with any of the other games besides Gentle Piano. “But what for?” she asked. Years of hourly lessons taught her that theory and practice are two different things that have very little to do with each other. “Why should we learn theory?” she pointedly asked. “My daughter already knows the rules!”
“They aren’t just theory! They are exercises that develop recognition of note sequences and visual perception of notes and chords, which are tied to music notation and hearing. These skills add up and develop fluent sight reading of sheet music!”
“But what will knowledge of note sequences help?” she asked perplexedly.
“They help in reading notes in any direction and from any place on the grand staff. This way, the keys can easily be identified.”
“Hmm.. no one’s told us about that before! Here’s another question: What’s that one game for, the one with the lines like a tree?”
“It’s for learning to immediately recognize any line from the grand staff. When reading notes, you daughter should mull this over continuously!”
“Oh, it’s all so logical! You’ve simply broken musicology into tiny, easily understandable pieces!”
“Thanks, but that’s how it’s supposed to be! You don’t eat the week’s meals all on Sunday.. .that would make you sick! Sight reading is a serious and complicated skill, and its elements should also be “eaten in meals.”
Music performance is a single alloy that is formed by all of its necessary skills. The notes are perceived by the muscles of the hands, the vision, the voice, and the hearing all at once. The throat and the fingers embed an inner hearing into the student. The sound calls forth a quick impulse of the muscles needed and an image of the music symbol. The sighted note signifies both its sound and the reaction of the muscles. In music reading, everything is connected, and the skills can only be developed simultaneously, simplifying one thing in order to familiarize the other. Today, this is only possible with the help of a computer and our program.