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 Post subject: Reading Music
PostPosted: Thu Mar 08, 2012 2:21 pm 

Joined: Thu Mar 08, 2012 12:24 pm
Posts: 8
Hello,

I went to college in 2000 and graduated with a degree in Vocal performance in 2005. While I have always been a really good imitator and a very good vocalist I suffered from one glaring weakness. Up to the point that I went to school for a Music degree...I didn't know how to actually read music. This caused, what you could say...a bit of angst on my side. I had struggles and through them I learned enough to get along; but I never really felt like I understood it enough to fulfill the true depth of my talent. I was always too proud to ask for help and as such I was a very mediocre music student...with a phenomenal voice.

In many ways, I feel like I squandered my education. I've learned more about making music now that I'm not actually doing anything with it. I play guitar and banjo, but most of the stuff I play by ear, and use the theory I remember to make logical conclusions about what chord I'm supposed to play. My ear has always been better than my brain; I have near perfect pitch, and I did fairly well in ear training. But I sometimes feel like that's akin to having a 1000 HP race car in a blind alleyway.

Has anyone else done this: had talent, but wasted it due to the inability to swallow your pride and ask for help?


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 Post subject: Re: Reading Music
PostPosted: Thu Mar 08, 2012 6:32 pm 

Joined: Sat Oct 15, 2011 8:22 am
Posts: 63
I played trombone for many years and was always pretty poor at reading music. I also didn't know anything about music theory, nor did I listen to music myself. I don't think that's such a bad thing.
I wouldn't say I was amazingly talented in the nusical arena though.

You don't have to be able to read sheet music to be a good musician. I'd rather have a perfect pitch and a knockout voice than be classically trained but have mediocre talent.

I've wasted creative talent or lost opportunities in other areas, but I think that's more a result of lack of support than lack of asking.


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 Post subject: Re: Reading Music
PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2012 8:28 am 

Joined: Thu Mar 08, 2012 12:24 pm
Posts: 8
I remember vividly, sitting in a practice room plunking my part out on a keyboard and wondering what the hell I was trying to do. I went to college and was so proud of how good I was, and then I totally got knocked down. I just wish I could package the maturity I've gained in the last decade and FedEx it to myself 12 years ago.


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 Post subject: Re: Reading Music
PostPosted: Sat Mar 10, 2012 12:46 pm 
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Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2011 3:25 pm
Posts: 211
Priest81 wrote:
Has anyone else done this: had talent, but wasted it due to the inability to swallow your pride and ask for help?

Dear Jared,

To answer your question, I think most people have found themselves at a place in their life with 20/20 hindsight, wishing they were able to explain their younger selves what they have learned, enabling them to make 'the right decisions'.

That's why I would turn your question and your story upside down. Maybe the thing you needed to bring into existence was not exploiting your great talent, but the capacity to ask for help.

A talent is something nobody can take away from you. You have this, you can still work it, make your living out of it, or just have a great deal of fun with it while you are filling your life with other stuff as well.

But learning this lesson of being able to ask for help, was apparently a difficult one for you to learn, and therefore it took a talent like your musical skills to give you the opportunity to bang your head against the same wall until you got it.

Don't see it as a waste of time or talent: you got the message. Now you can move on, using what you have learned.

Set your new goals, see how you can get there, and don't forget: ask for help ;) . You might be surprised how quickly things can change for the positive in your life, when you start walking your new path.

_________________
Recognizing somebody else's strength doesn't diminish your own (Joss Whedon)


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 Post subject: Re: Reading Music
PostPosted: Tue Mar 13, 2012 8:56 am 

Joined: Thu Mar 08, 2012 12:24 pm
Posts: 8
Just to be clear, I wasn't trying to toot my own horn in my first post, or write a 'poor me' post I re-read it and it sort of sounded like that. Really what I'm getting at is an epiphany of sorts. It is amazing how seemingly unrelated passive observations can lead to really deep introspective philosophical realizations. That's what happened to me, and I just felt compelled to write about it.

I was reading Bear's Bio, and I came across the fact that he worked on BSG when he was 24, and it made me think of where I was when I was 24. I hadn't thought about school in a long time; I've been out since 05 and have had a career in business so I have been otherwise occupied. But for some reason the fact that he was an accomplished composer at the age that I was still working on finalizing my senior recital took my train of thought back, and I had one of those hindsight moments. I was able to see myself for how I was, and all the B.S that I had surrounded myself with then.

I didn't realize how much of my self-identification was wrapped up in my ability to sing. Internally I was very aggressive towards anything that challenged that. I had always thought that secretly I was intimidated by people who could look at a score and hear it, or more so even hear the music in their head and write it down. For the longest time I thought it was some sort of inferiority complex, me thinking that I wasn't good enough to be called a musician because I couldn't read music well, or that I wasn't worthy to hang with the people who do. But it was all this self-centered pride; and the fear that if people saw my weakness it would iligitimize my talent...which went back to the self- centered pride again. circular heat death.

Reading this forum I realized that It wasn't that at all. I had every opportunity to change this, and I was no different than anyone else, but I let that whole fear/pride combo get the best of me. I was so proud of ME and my talent, and so afraid to let people know that I really didn't know anything that I never told anyone about the struggles I had, and I never reached out to get help. My pride made me say, "If you just fix this yourself, no one will ever know." The problem was I didn't know how to 'fix' it. I didn't, pardon the pun, 'face the music,' and so as others grew, I stayed the same...too afraid to admit my faults and I wasted time when I could have really grown. I never started some things because I was afraid to fail. And so I failed.

I realize now that I had let that weakness ruin the time I had, and the premise that I had been living under was incorrect. School is a place where you go to learn. You can't learn anything if you already know it all, just like you can't fill a cup that's already full. I went to school with a full cup, which kept me from being able to learn. Back then I had thought that what I needed was for someone to validate my talent and tell me that everything was all right; but now I see what I really needed was someone to sit me down and tell me to stop being so full on arrogant and self-centered, admit that I didn't know everything in the world, and to ask for help...and then work to make it happen.

But as Skating_Lientje said, this isn't a permanent state. I can still learn, I can still grow. Past failures shouldn't prevent future successes. Thank you Internet for the therapy...at least until I get your bill.


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 Post subject: Re: Reading Music
PostPosted: Tue Mar 13, 2012 12:09 pm 
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Priest81 wrote:
but now I see what I really needed was someone to sit me down and tell me to stop being so full on arrogant and self-centered, admit that I didn't know everything in the world, and to ask for help...and then work to make it happen.

Well, it seems that you found somebody to teach you this lesson, or it came to you through experience.
Now I'm really interested to see what's going to happen in your life. Seriously, keep us posted.

Priest81 wrote:
But as Skating_Lientje said, this isn't a permanent state. I can still learn, I can still grow. Past failures shouldn't prevent future successes. Thank you Internet for the therapy...at least until I get your bill.


The bill might come in the form of reciprocity. Help another one out when he/she tells you something you think you might give them some insight. Just pay it forward :).

Elin

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Recognizing somebody else's strength doesn't diminish your own (Joss Whedon)


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 Post subject: Re: Reading Music
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2012 9:55 pm 
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Joined: Sun Dec 11, 2011 4:06 pm
Posts: 46
Location: Montpellier - France
Anyway, to answer to your question, I'm myself making music with anything I can find or get. Some instruments (guitars, didgeridoo, percussions, drums, keyboard, etc), computer assisted music, etc.

I'm listening to a lot of music. More than a lot, actually, I try to listen to music 24/7, even when I sleep. I've always loved music, I've always loved listening to it, practizing and making it. It's my life. I'm someone who enjoys life and everything, I'm strong, but a thing that I'm sure of is that if I have to turn deaf some day, I won't be able to keep living in this world. That's the sad but true story of my life.

And, I find myself also not being able to read or write scores. So, what's the deal ? I also do everything by ears and, what's the problem, really ? I can follow anybody who starts something. This makes me a better improviser than someone who needs to be guided with sheets I can create music, with anything, and tell a story, and make people feel something, because my experience and my passion give me the power to "read" the music. I don't mean read sheets, I mean understand what music means, what stories a music can tell, what kind of emotion some chords can make people feel.

I'm actually making Sound Design studies, where we, among lots of other things, practise computer assisted music composing. Guess what ? We never learn to read or write. Instead, we make sort of challenges like half the group has to make up a story, then create a music telling that story, and the other half of the group trying to guess what the story is about. It works very well.

What's important is to feel and understand the music, not being able to read sheets. I'm sure Bear is able to read and write music notations but, when I hear what he does, I'm also sure that he can feel and understand the music, because his work always fits perfectly with what the story tells or shows.

Don't be so affraid for this lack. It's really not important. If you think you need it, then you can still learn. But you don't, really.


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 Post subject: Re: Reading Music
PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2012 10:01 am 
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Posts: 351
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Priest81 wrote:
School is a place where you go to learn. You can't learn anything if you already know it all, just like you can't fill a cup that's already full. I went to school with a full cup, which kept me from being able to learn. Back then I had thought that what I needed was for someone to validate my talent and tell me that everything was all right; but now I see what I really needed was someone to sit me down and tell me to stop being so full on arrogant and self-centered, admit that I didn't know everything in the world, and to ask for help...and then work to make it happen.


Priest81... this has been a fascinating thread to read. I could comment on it for days. As Elin pointed out, 20/20 hindsight is easy to come by when you're looking back at your life, but don't beat yourself up over it.

As for your feelings in school, I promise you I felt the exact same way when I first arrived. It's a form of self-delusion that is a defense mechanism. In high school, I would tell myself that I'd move to Los Angeles, land some huge big budget movie and, though I'd never taken a formal orchestration or composition class, I'd be able to knock it outta the park.

It didn't work out that way. Thankfully.

When I got to USC, I was probably the least knowledgable of all my classmates. I found out there were AP Music Theory classes they'd taken in high school. I'd never even heard of such things. So, I struggled. Argued. Tried to ignore them and just do my own thing. And what I lacked in knowledge, I made up for in unbridled passion and energy. I scored student films, wrote music for myself, for bands, for anyone who would play. But, I always thought I had everything I needed and everyone else was just trying to hold me back. This was, of course, not true.

I suppose a major break happened for me around my third year. Somehow at this point, I finally just gave in and acknowledged to myself that I needed to learn the technicalities. To acknowledge that my student peers were better than me at conducting, orchestration, ear training, sight reading and theory.

Looking back (with that 20/20 vision again!) I can see that was definitely the moment at which I started to really improve. My music began to evolve more quickly, and I caught up on orchestration, conducting, theory, counterpoint within that year. Suddenly, having all that enthusiasm and energy COMBINED with the practical knowledge I was lacking, I was in a much better place and more prepared for what was ahead.

I came to LA thinking I was ready to land a major gig right when I got there. I'm glad it didn't turn out that way, actually. But, shortly after graduating, I landed BSG and put all that I'd learned to the test.

I still wish I'd paid more attention those first two years. I'd have learned more, and be a better composer for it. But, the point is... it's never too late. Once you decide that you're ready to learn new things, they will begin pouring into your brain. You don't need to be in school for that. Just surround yourself with what you want to learn, and with people who know it better than you.

Good luck!

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-Bear


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