Monday, December 17, 2007

5. Am I Dyslexic or Something??

Well, I've been at for about a week, and I'm starting to wonder if I have some kind of undiagnosed dyslexia! Sometimes I'll read the bass clef as treble, or the bass clef in the right hand, etc.

I'd also like to know what kind of sick, twisted jerk came up with the idea of two clefs which, although they look exactly the same, represent different notes. A large part of my learning effort is devoted to inhibiting the bass clef interpretation of a note so that I can read the correct treble clef value. I've learned both, but since I used bass clef exclusively for seven years as a child, that's the one that tries to take charge when I'm looking at a note. For more, see my diatribe on this topic.

There was a famous musician who gave lectures about music to kids. He would start a talk by having a seven-year-old girl come up on the stage, and ask her to rip the Manhattan phone book in half. She couldn't do it, of course, so he'd whisper a few words to her, put her behind a screen, and at the end of the lecture she'd come out with the book in two pieces. She did it by ripping one page at a time.

The point here was that when you have a big task ahead of you, it can help to destroy something. Ha ha. No, the point is that if you can accept small increments of progress, you can eventually solve a big problem.

As I'm playing some of these hymns and other songs at a glacial tempo, I just have to have faith that I will eventually get better. Each day I improve by the thickness of a single, thin piece of paper.

While I'm plodding through some of these easy pieces, it doesn't seem possible that anyone could actually sight-read them at a realistic tempo, but I know, of course that it can be done.

The concept of not slowing down or stopping is much more difficult than you might think, even with the metronome running. The best remedy is to play along with others, but I'll have to improve a lot before I can find some way to do that.

Similarly, looking ahead is not working for me at this point. I can sometimes look ahead a measure, but memorizing the next measure while simultaneously playing the current one is not happening.

I have a few things going for me. My hands generally know where the notes are, so I usually don't have to look down from the music. Bigger jumps are a problem, though, so I try to spend some time each day playing jazz, scales, or other exercises blindfolded.

Also, I'm finding that my theory background helps a lot. That is, I know what accidentals to expect, and knowing what chord is likely to come up helps me play it.

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