57. Should We Read Books Behind the Wheel?
If you can read, and you can ride a bicycle, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can do both at the same time.
One can give a student a mass of exercises all at once. He will get familiar with the keys, will learn to ‘walk’ along them, will develop his coordination and confidence in his movements, and will learn the ‘map’ of the keys and their octaves. The more confident the coordination of the hands becomes, the more developed the apparatus is, and the more freedom the muscles will have. This means that the keys will become a part of the student’s consciousness. But this absolutely does not mean that the student will be able to open a book of sheet music and play a piece from it freely. It isn’t enough to have good coordination to fluently sight read!
While playing simple exercises, the perception quickly grasps the note sequence and works on autopilot, freeing the student’s attention for coordination. But if the path is sharply complicated, and if it also needs to be deciphered, the limited paths of the exercises won’t help. After learning to drive our car in our neighborhoods, we always reduce our speed when traveling somewhere unfamiliar. And the more difficult the route is, the slower our going becomes – until we reach a complete stop.
Why do traditional teachers love to repeat the mantra, “practice, practice, practice?” Because after the selection of a new piece, the student progresses at an extremely awkward and slow pace. Sometimes, in order to play it from the beginning to end, an entire lesson is needed! The teacher can’t even allow himself to im that the student, as he should, could simply open the music book and play a piece from it at once, with minor difficulties. Another popular saying comes from this: “work bar-by-bar on a selection of songs.” This means that the student sits down, and slowly, note by note, ‘picks out’ the music.
Imagine how this baffling process plays out between the student’s different skills: