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11/03/2003 Entry: "Music as a Language"

Go to google. Search for reasons to love a person. See who comes up at the bottom of the page? See what post it's referencing? Cool, eh?

Let me talk to you a little about rehearsal for My Fair Lady. The music is a big departure from the last show I played. West Side Story had very difficult music. It was rhythmically complex, with lots of time changes. My Fair Lady is quite a bit easier. But still...

On Saturday I went to my first rehearsal. I had not played with the pit band before. I had never played the music myself. (I did have a copy of the music, and I did look at it quickly, but I didn't actually practice it.) The conductor started. I started playing. I was quite impressed by my own sight reading ability. We, as a pit band, could've played that show just like we did at rehearsal for opening night. It was that good. We were all together. No train wrecks. No problems at all, really. There was one song towards the end where there was this little rhythmic figure that the whole band plays together. And we did. Correctly. No one was out of place. And that got me thinking.

Being able to read and write music is almost identical to reading and writing a language. Someone I don't know can write something for me on a scrap of paper. I can then, by reading what they've written, play what they want me to. And I can do the same for them. In fact, when I played with Mac a week or so ago, I did just that. We figured out an ending for a song. It was a rhythmically complex, non-textbook example ending. I just wrote it out. That way, when we played the song a week later, we could all remember the ending. And we nailed it.

I can get across the emotional ideas I have for music by writing them down. Someone who reads music can then do exactly what I want. Like if I spoke Spanish--I could write Spanish down, and another Spanish speaker would be able to communicate with me. They could then write me back, and I could read it. Like a language, music can be used to communicate ideas through a series of agreed upon written symbols.

Why, then, a musician wouldn't want to know how to read and write music is beyond me. I teach all my students to read and write music.

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