60. Vision, Voice, Hearing, and Coordination: What’s More Important?
Without including music reading in the very first lessons, it isn’t possible to teach music; there simply isn’t any other way.
My beginners start to play with both hands and sight read during the very first lesson. And during this lesson, they have no idea what the difference between the treble and bass clefs are, they’re not asked to distinguish the two and three black keys, nor find the middle Do.
They don’t know the notes on the staves, have no idea what time, measure, and length are, and what types of pauses there are. All that they learn is the first cycle of the music alphabet: Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Ti Do Ti La Sol Fa Mi Re Do. Anything else is simply unnecessary to them!
Loading all sorts of information onto their students, educators forget the main quality of their own childhood: we learn when we do it ourselves.
To walk, to talk, to hold a spoon, to tie our shoes, to count and to ride a bike – we learned to do all of this through the process of action! No one forced us behind a desk and told us that they’d tell us what laces are and how to tie them. No one told us about the build of a shoe and its resistance to stress, and no one showed us diagrams of knots. And notice, our abilities haven’t suffered at all as a result. Moreover, it was because of this that we learned to do those things in the first place!
But it’s one thing to tie your laces. It’s a completely different thing to read notes with the help of the piano and your voice. Here, all sensory organs are working together simultaneously. But does this mean that we should measure them and develop them all simultaneously? Of course not!
It is extremely important to understand once and for all that in this tying in, the most important evidence appears, often seen in everyday life.
If a child can’t stand on his own feet and can’t crawl, what’s the sense of telling him where he needs to go, with which step, and at what speed? The most important ability in education is coordination. I’ve seen blind musicians. History even knows deaf composers. I often have to see people play without ever learning their notes. But there isn’t a single professional pianist out there that can’t control the coordination of his hands and fingers.
While learning notes, it is most logical to depend on one’s coordination. The music text should be made to be easily legible. The vision should be a guide to the muscles, and not a personal burden that only adds difficulties.
The most important result and goal of piano lessons should be speedy reading. The understanding, conscious and whole, of the entire piece depends on it. Seeing the entire composition helps the perception to seize the sense of the words and sentences.
The rate at which we read determines exactly what we are reading. If it is by syllables, we can only take on a kids’ book in which the pictures are larger than the words. And if we can read quickly, then we can take on big, serious novels. The rate of reading is directly tied to the level on which we think. It shouldn’t lag behind the rate at which we understand things. In this regard, the reading of music isn’t at all different from the reading of books. The only difference is that while reading a music text at a decent speed, the beginner also develops his hearing and voice.
A method in which all senses work together, but the attention is directed towards the coordination of the fingers and hands is the most effective. While a child hasn’t worked out his coordination adequately, all of his attention will be lost on the fingers and keys, and an expectation of normal sight reading would simply be nonsensical. Luckily, kids quickly develop coordinational skills, and once their movement is right, more attention can be devoted to the music text.