Reading music

Young pupils tend not to be able to feel direct reciprocity with a composition in its notated form, and therefore need outside help. The notation does not convey anything to them, nor do they find any alternative form of communication with the written music. Children rarely have experiential knowledge about a new piece, as they are finding their way in the repertoire. An adult then takes the role of an intermediary. Once the young person is helped through this music-reading phase, he/she is able to practise the piece independently for long periods. There is an example in the video section, under the heading “reading a new piece”: six-year-old Otso reading a new piece with his teacher Kata. (link to video Otso reading music)

Reading music may be a laborious process for many musicians. Works for piano contain lots of complicated information. At the initial stage a new piece does not yet communicate, it does not feel familiar, nor does it invoke recognisable passages, harmonies or emotional reactions. When a piece grows familiar, it becomes, as it were, part of the player. Even professionals may experience similar deficient communication when practising works by a new, unfamiliar composer. The musical “language” sounds strange, and it is impossible to say when the piece goes “right” or “wrong”. When the texture gradually becomes familiar, the practising turns more communicative. Professionals are often helped through this stage by analysing recordings. Pupils, too, should listen to records and other players as well as actively attend concerts with a view to enhancing their familiarity with the repertoire. Listening to skilful players of the same age group is particularly motivating. 

Does this subject interest you?

Read more (research results with source references). Junttu 2010 pp. 93-95

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