I cannot read music. But about a month ago I was helping my daughter as she was just starting piano lessons and I at least knew more than her. That is no longer the case.
In my attempts to be better at practicing, I started working through my copy of Hal Leonard Guitar Method yesterday. I am starting at the very beginning and trying to use this opportunity to not just fill in the gaps of knowledge I skipped over through my haphazard approach to learning to play the guitar, but also to learn how to read music. I got through the first few pages just fine. But Ode To Joy was a real challenge. I can play Ode To Joy on the guitar just fine by ear, but to play it while calling out the note names as I play them on the fretboard and read them from the treble clef…well, that is very difficult.
And I don’t want to cheat either. I could just pretend that I’m reading the notes on the page when I’m really just playing by ear. Or I could memorize the song after I’ve figured out the notes once. I have done this before (not cheat, read music). I learned to play Ode To Joy on the recorder in second or third grade. I even read the music.
So I have two goals (you could almost say they are resolutions, but resolutions are ways you want to live your life and goals are things you want to achieve).
- Read the notes on the treble cleft as I play them.
- Know the notes I am playing on the fretboard as I play them.
This means when I see a C on the treble clef (third open space from the bottom) I know that it is a C and I know that when I play, for example, the second string on the first fret I am playing a C. I guess I know what I’ll be spending my lunchtime practice sessions at work doing!
But let’s be honest. I’ll always sound more like this:
Than I’ll ever sound like this:
Or like this: