Anonymous asked in Entertainment & MusicMusicClassical · 7 years ago

Musically dyslexic with a good ear?

Hey all.

I've been teaching myself to play piano for about a year. I've played flute for seven years and bass guitar for four. Thus, I'm familiar with both clefs.

As a pianist, I have exceptionally nimble fingers and a very good ear - but my ability to read a music and communicate what I see to my fingers is absolute trash. I can play music in a 5-6 year difficulty level with absolute ease, but I can't read music at a year 2 difficulty level whatsoever.

I can struggle with a piece of music for a month, then learn it in a few hours off of Youtube. Again, my difficulty isn't with the song difficulty - it's that I can't read the notes and play them. Once I know what the notes are, I can play them. I can play along at ~160bpm easy, but I struggle to read music at 5bpm.

If this was fitness, you could say that I'm a weightlifter with huge arms, but my legs are so small I can't stand up. I've tried taking simpler music and slowly reading it, but I just can't find any in a happy medium. If it's too simple, I play the song by ear after I have the rhythm down, and I'm left with little to no benefit. Too difficult and I have to listen to the song to understand the music, then I wind up playing it by ear to fill in the gaps my eyes leave me with. This is a good skill, and I'm happy I have it.. but I want to play The Turkish March, and I'm down to earth enough to know that I can't just play that by listening to it. I need to learn to read music so my fingers can progress to that next level of skill and the ones beyond it - I just can't do it because my reading ability is setting me so far back.

Mad World - Gary Jules, Just Give Me A Reason - Pink, and 21 guns - Green Day are pieces of music that are pushing the limits of my ability to read sheets. With each song I learn a few specific chords in sheet music, and I can pick them out and play them naturally now. The only issue is that I'm almost through them, and though I've been looking, can't find anything similar to work with. My fingers can play Metallica, but my eyes can't read Hot Cross Buns.

So, what can I do about this?

I so desperately want to be musically literate.


2 Answers

  • 7 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Sam, I'm genuinely impressed with how much you have thought about this -- I winced at your analogy of the weightlifter for it struck me as so melancholy -- but the solution is one of retrenching in order to lope with strides forward. The snag is that the backwards bit has to be done first, before the progress can happen.

    To be blunt:

    > 160bpm easy, but I struggle to read music at 5bpm

    your hands and your head are terminally out of sync. In pursuit of 'results' -- my own hands just now momentarily turned that into 'resluts', fortuitously for that shows what careless & less than thoughtful execution speeds can do -- you now can 'play' all sorts but there's no connection between your motoric understanding and the intellectual cognition that should actually drive it. You quite literally do not *know* what you are actually doing. The very moment you have to depend on notation as if your very life depended on it, you slow down to a crawl or simply flounder. Put differently, you can't actually, really, truthfully, read music at all. Until you can read it on the fly in the manner it is meant to enable you to do, you have a serious problem in that department.

    Backlevel, backlevel, backlevel..!

    You now need a teacher, a good one, who can save you a huge wad of time by minimising that backlevelling by analysing where your learning has derailed and putting you back to just before that point and rebuilding your learning but this time making it cognitively stick. The alternative is to go back to rock bottom by any other means. You can't bluff your way round this one, and it strikes me that you have already well and truly worked this out for yourself. Your cognitive acquisition of this stuff is damaged and those 'holes' won't vanish by the judicious application of some kind of ad hoc 'polyfilla'.

    You're a brave soul to face this out like this: not the avenue of choice where dilemmas of this kind are concerned for most. Use my mailbox if you think I might be able to help beyond posting here, any time.

    All the very best,

  • 7 years ago

    Oh pish posh sam

    What you need to do is start sight reading simpler music,

    Like O sussana or mary had a little lamb and TAKE YOUR TIME!

    and then once you mastered these simple pieces you can move on to something a little more challenging like Canon in D

    Source(s): I had the same problem, and Now Im better though not as much, I got a terrible headache from trying to sight read this piece the other day
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