01 September 2010

New language vs Music Theory

It is September, and that means a return to some sort of Croatian language lessons. I'm searching, searching, searching for a class that runs once or twice a week, for maybe 1.5 hours per class (that means 3 hours per week), and a class that takes its time. I have no need or desire to learn ten new concepts per class. I have no need to rush. What I need is to be taught one concept at a time, thoroughly and given enough time to go home and practice before I come back to learn a new concept.

This is how most people, (who are not of the child prodigy or genius variety), learn to read and play music. Music is a language. A foreign language to everyone who comes to it. Music theory is much like learning grammar in that the rules and guidelines will enable you to read, compose and play more and more complex music in an eloquent way. And it takes time, lots of time to learn. Grade 1 piano generally takes an entire year to accomplish at a pace of one hour per week of lesson coupled with at least one hour of practice every single day (more of course is better). Lesson five can only begin if lessons one, two, three and four have been understood. Trust me, there's no use trying to learn to play with two hands at the same time if you still can't remember where the notes sit on the lines and spaces of the staff.

I vividly remember my first year of music class in highschool where I was given the clarinet to play. Without one word of exaggeration I will confess that it took 2 solid MONTHS for me to figure out how to hold the thing comfortably. Just to hold it. And balance it. The first entire year was clumsy. Year two was better. Year three was really good. Year four was pretty awesome; I could play Sleigh Ride like nobody's business. But even after four solid years of playing..I was nowhere near good enough to play in a professional orchestra. I probably would have needed another three to four years of full-time solid study to get good enough for anything beyond the basics. (check out this video on YouTube of Sleigh Ride. Pay close attention to the clarinet around the 2 mintue mark ;-)

Thus I believe languages all over the world would be learned better if the teachers and course writers were all forced to learn to play Sleigh Ride on the clarinet to the level of awesomeness and given a short time to do so. Like a month.

Hmmm, that actually sounds like it would be a pretty fun reality show to watch!

No comments: