Sight reading should really be called sight doing. You read a bunch of notes and you have to make your hands do acrobatic feats. Seriously. I’m at Book 2 of the Faber Duo’s Adult Piano Adventures and let me tell you, it’s like a workout for the brain and the hands.
It’s the same as learning a language, but this is a different type of language. It’s hard to describe exactly what kind of language music is. We humans are not songbirds. I don’t believe we came up with it ‘naturally’. Did you know that the very first musical instrument was forged out of a bow? We must have known, even back then, better to make music than to wage war. Or something like that…
It requires a lot of focus. This sight-reading thing. The precision and practise it requires is insane. You have to make all your fingers do these crazy acrobatic feats. We all know that learning a musical instrument is hard. That’s why so many start young and then give up once their parents don’t force them to go to lessons anymore. It’s gruelling, mentally exhausting and repetitive.
Despite the repetitive nature of music, I have never played the exact same way twice. Somehow or another, an error creeps in. Or a snicker of creativity that I did not expect is waiting to reveal itself. Both tendencies generally annoy piano teachers who expect you to play it as it is.
They expect you to recreate it exactly as it is written.
But my mind and my hands simply do not obey the instructions that have been handed down to me. It wants to hold a note a little longer than it should. It wants to play a note a little faster than what has been prescribed.
This is all fair and good; seeing as how I am a solo act at the moment. But I can imagine it being a right mess to deal with in the event that I have to jam with others. We’d sound like an un-choreographed mess. No one would want to see that or even pay to see that.
That’s why I think most of these acts on talent shows are total cheats. They just get on stage and show you how amazing they are. But that’s not really what makes a show happen. You can be a star, but there are other stars out there, you know. Just look at the night sky and you’ll see all of them diamonds strutting their stuff. It’s so wildly beautiful that we’ve put them into clusters and given them names.
So what I’d really like to see is a whole bunch of stars together. Instead of making these musical geniuses compete with one another, talent shows should make them work together. That’ll be something I’d watch. Because after a while, you even become immune to this ‘individual amazingness’ that all of them display on stage. They even sing the same old big songs. I’m sure that the judges are tired of hearing them by now. Make them shine together, I say. Make them shine together!
Anyways, coming back to my self-imposed piano practise with a side of mischief, I must say that I am enjoying it a great deal.
If I could re-write Genesis, I would say, “In the beginning, there was only noise. With practise, it slowly started to sound like music… And perhaps a judge or two thought it was good.”
Till next time, happy sight-doing!