Reading Music – Secrets of The Pros

There’s a thousand ways to do anything – but with reading music, you only want the ones that work.

As much as I like new stuff – the old-school musicians kick serious butt when it comes to reading music. They get the job done right.

If you’re looking for shortcuts, they don’t exist. But you can learn the secrets of peak performance.

Here are some tips from top players.

1. Remember the Goal in Reading Music

It isn’t reading music – it’s making music that matters.

“Music notation is just the roadmap –

Creating powerful, emotional music is the Goal.”

Don’t get lost in the notes.

Music is emotion. Without emotion, its just math.

It’s easy to get lost in the swirl of memorization, counting and tiny details of reading music. But the end goal should be emotional impact – not just “right” notes.

2. The journey to Reading Music should include Writing Music

Think about how you learned to read and write.

  • You didn’t just memorize visual symbols – you also practiced writing them.
  • It wasn’t enough to just sound out the words – you wrote them.
  • Each new letter required drilling and repetition – you also practiced writing it. Over and over.

Old school musicians teach reading music AND writing it. You can’t have one without the other.

 3. Paper & Pencil were always part of the Reading Music Process

Software and apps can be helpful – but learn to write music notes on manuscript paper.

I don’t really know why, but it works better. 10x better!

There’s something about drawing notes on paper that creates a connection between brain and heart – idea and result.

It’s more personal than a computer. There are also popular authors that prefer to write with pencil/paper or a typewriter – instead of the computer. This short article about famous author techniques might surprise you.

Simple is always good.

In tight schedules, emergencies and last-minute changes… a cheat-sheet can be scribbled out on anything. No electricity required.

4. Reading music must involve Playing An Instrument

Books and videos are great – but you need to play a real instrument to read music correctly.

  • You have to begin the sound
  • supply the air/energy to sustain it
  • and know when to end it

You must play it – not just memorize images from a book.

Memorization is part of learning to read music, of course. But it’s only the ABC’s.

Learning to play an instrument AND reading music are the yin-yang of musical performance.

5. Ear Training is a fundamental part of Music Reading

Reading music involves listening – to yourself and others.

If you can, have a more experienced musician demonstrate things for you.

It’s important to hear your lessons played correctly. Get it right at the beginning in order to prevent bad habits later

If you can’t play with people, the next best thing is to play along with recordings.

Eventually, you will be able to recognize your “correct” notes, as well as your mistakes.

Music is an aural skill.

Old school master musicians would play along with you, and encourage you to listen analytically. Your ears are your guide.

6. Learning to read music requires Practice

Learning how to practice is an art in itself.

Shut off the social media, commit to regular practice time in a designated place, with definite goals.

I never learned to practice effectively until I was 30 years old. Now, I can accomplish more in 30 minutes than I did before in 3 hours.

Prioritize your goals. Make a plan. Put it on the calendar and stick to it.

Here is post I wrote called How To Practice Music – 7 Steps to Great Results that may be helpful.

7. Skilled Music Reading does not happen overnight

Take a breath.

It looks so easy. But like anything, it will take time, commitment and sacrifice to improve.

There are no short-cuts. You may even want to quit occasionally. Just keep going and take it one step at a time.

Learn to enjoy the journey.

8. If needed, find a qualified music teacher

A private teacher may be helpful.

If you are guessing and making mistakes – find a mentor. Get some lessons. Reading music should be a rewarding experience and if you need a pro – get one.

A qualified teacher will save you time. They’ve been where you are and can streamline the process.

And of course, How To Read Music: See it, Say it, Play it is an awesome investment in reaching your musical dreams.

However you do it – just get started.

Reading music is a great skill to develop. Learn to do it the right way, and you’ll enjoy it the rest of your life.

Plus, since you’re here, you can learn How To Read Music Notes and NOT Sound BORING… definitely a worthwhile goal.

Got a question? Reach out in the contact box below. Please share with your friends and fellow musicians. Thanks!

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