What Is The Deal With These Silly Reading/Technique Threads?

Michael McDanial

Senior Member
Seriously, I don't get why these threads keep coming up all the time, and I'm not just referring to Drummerworld. I am a member of a saxophone forum, and it is an issue that constantly comes up there as well.

"Can I still be a great drummer/saxophonist/(name instrument) without learning how to read music?"

"Will having a lot of technical skill on my instrument hurt my playing and cause me to play with less soul/feeling?"

These questions are just ridiculous. How can it possibly HURT you to know how to read music?! How can it possibly HURT you to become a better technical player?

Why do people constantly ask these questions? Is it because they're too lazy to put in the time to learn how to read, or the practice time to improve their technical skills, and they're just looking for some sort of approval from other musicians to make themselves feel better about their laziness?
 

Migaluch

Senior Member
I agree. And to me Drum Charts can be the easiest to read of all instruments, from my POV as only a drummer.
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
I also have heard every excuse that there is from musicians that do not want to learn how to read.
Im not the best reader in the world but I find being able to read invaluable.

My ability to read allows me to learn and understand much better than I could otherwise.
It also helps me to count and keep time properly.

I think that it is silly to resist learning how to read music.
It really isn't that hard to learn.
 

MikeM

Platinum Member
Okay, I'll bite; Because it changes your frame of reference. If you learn "the box" there's a tendency to stay in the box. But if you don't know the box, it's almost random if you happen to find yourself in it.

Here's my little story: I've played with two guitar players who knew pretty much zero theory and had marginal technical abilities. But they compensated by having a very unique/unorthodox approach to playing that focused their attentions on playing intervals and interesting patterns that they just liked but didn't understand the theory behind it. They were content to let others figure out that stuff (me among them).

These two players were two of the most interesting players (of any instrument) I've ever played with. Odd-meter was more common with them than common time was, but without ever sounding contrived or cliche (a HUGE feat there), and it was as effortless as it was accidental. Those experiences were very rewarding. I've played with bona fide shredders and theory monsters and they are utterly predictable compared to these guys.

That's my guitar player comparison. Me? I'm somewhere in the middle; I haven't studied formally, worked out on all the rudiments, and my sightreading is very slow (I can figure it out, just not in real time), so I won't be getting any session gigs, but that's okay because that's never been a goal of mine. I do like to think compositionally and a bit off the beaten path, and happily, I don't seem to have a hard time finding interesting gigs.

For some people the ideas are the driver and the technique and theory can come later, if slowly and incompletely. For others, the learning of technique and theory are the main drivers and the good ideas can (but not always) come later.

As I see it, this conversation is just a specific example of that timeless right/left brain debate. There are those at the extreme ends of the spectrum (the outliers), but most sit squarely in the middle of the bell curve.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Some people don't like anything "bookish" and understandably worry that their lack of inclination and aptitude in that area will adversely affect their chances of success. Often it does, but I guess they live in hope that they will manage to get around it.

Some people fear public speaking, some fear mathematics, some fear theoretical information (probably because they are not comfortable with conceptual thinking). I don't think judgement and an "eat your greens" approach is any more helpful to those people than saying "Sure, it doesn't matter".

It's very easy to judge but much harder to understand. However, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar ...
 
W

wy yung

Guest
I used to see this as a black and white issue. These days I am unsure. Through teaching I have noticed how some people have walls erected towards reading. Music seems so esoteric they doubt they can possibly understand it. Many adults have no desire to even begin. Each has their own reason. As a teacher I often have to navigate these waters carefully. I have been teaching many Pacific islanders of late and to a man they don't want to read. I have no explanation for this.
 

Michael McDanial

Senior Member
Some people don't like anything "bookish" and understandably worry that their lack of inclination and aptitude in that area will adversely affect their chances of success. Often it does, but I guess they live in hope that they will manage to get around it.

Some people fear public speaking, some fear mathematics, some fear theoretical information (probably because they are not comfortable with conceptual thinking). I don't think judgement and an "eat your greens" approach is any more helpful to those people than saying "Sure, it doesn't matter".

It's very easy to judge but much harder to understand. However, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar ...
I think you're taking this the wrong way Polly. I'm not saying "You're not a good musician if you can't read music" or "You're not a good musician if you don't have outstanding technique". What I'm saying is how can it possibly hurt somebody to learn how to read music or to improve their technique?

Yes, there are great musicians out there who can't read music, and yes there are great musicians out there who don't have a solid understanding of music theory. However, even though those people exist, I would never recommend to somebody to NOT learn how to read music, or NOT learn music theory, or NOT improve their technical skills.

I am a teacher. A student at the junior high once asked me "Can't girls have a baby at 15 and still get a good paying job and make a good living?" The answer, of course, is yes, it is possible. However, would I recommend that they do such a thing? HECK NO!

It's one thing if a person comes onto a forum saying, "Hey, I'm having trouble improving my reading/knowledge of music theory because I'm not really a book person. What would you recommend?"

It's a different thing when a person comes on a forum saying "There have been great drummers in the past that couldn't read music, so it's ok if I don't learn how, right?" That comes off to me as basically "I don't want to put in the time to learn how to read music, and I'm just looking for some approval from other musicians."

Maybe my original post seems harsh, but I get annoyed when people don't want to put in the time for something and are just looking for a reason to justify it.

It's one thing to ask for help in how to improve a certain area that you aren't comfortable with, such as reading music. It's another thing to not want to put in the effort to improve your skills in reading music and trying to justify it with "well, so-and-so didn't know how to read music, so why should I?" and then come on forums looking for approval of this attitude.
 
W

wy yung

Guest
Wy Yung...I'm half white, half black. Does that equate...like maybe the white half loves to read, the black side doesn't...or is it the other way around?
I have no explanation why these particular students do not wish to read music. I do not know enough about the culture to even guess. I lean towards culture being the reason. Certainly colour has nothing to do with it.
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
Someone was trying to play the Race Card!
I didn't see wy's post as implying anything of the sort.
I didn't see wy's post as argumentative either!
I don't get what sparked that reply.
 
W

wy yung

Guest
Someone was trying to play the Race Card!
I didn't see wy's post as implying anything of the sort.
I didn't see wy's post as argumentative either!
I don't get what sparked that reply.
Me either. It would be silly with me anyway. My last girlfriend, Mi Hee, is Korean. Before her was Akiko, Japanese. Before her, Shyleja, and Indian. :)

My favourite musician is Duke Ellington. :)

Favourite percussionist is Brazilian, Carlinhos Brown.

My favourite drummer is a Pom. :)
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
I think that he misunderstood what you meant by "Black and White"
I knew that you were not speaking about race.
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
Someone was trying to play the Race Card!
A simple misunderstanding of the term.

"No grey area" was implied, but unfortunately not recognised.

As for the thread. In my humble, albeit limited opinion on why the question is constantly asked, was summed up by this.

"There have been great drummers in the past that couldn't read music, so it's ok if I don't learn how, right?" That comes off to me as basically "I don't want to put in the time to learn how to read music, and I'm just looking for some approval from other musicians."
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
When wy used the term he was using it as, Being in total opposite contrast like night and day.
It had nothing to do with a persons race.
 
W

wy yung

Guest
if ever I discover the reason, I will let you know. The situation though is real. I am having to alter my teaching methods in these classes. I expect I will learn from it. Lovely people.

Anyway I am Australian, born of mostly convict stock. Looked down upon by the British as uncouth. That's kind of the white black of the Commonwealth.

I remember an Australian being introduced to John Cleese. When informed he was Australian cleese said, "how very unfortunate for you!" :D
 
W

wy yung

Guest
[
QUOTE=Destroy1;747949]Dear madame, I was referring to the term "Pacific Islanders" not wanting to read to a man.

To a man?!?[/QUOTE]

I mean my students. Seriously mate, lighten up. I also have white students who don't want to read. And strangely a Chinese piano teacher mentioned to me she was experiencing the same issue. This is her reality. I do not know why it is so. And I meant nothing negative about it. It was simply an example of some people who do not wish to read. I will ask this week.
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
Getting back on track, How can you use a drum exercise book without knowing how to read music?
I am a slow music reader. I have to study the chart for a while before I get it.
This time that I take helps me to better understand what it is that I am learning because I have to take time to look at the music.
 
W

wy yung

Guest
I just rang a student and asked. He said "I don't know, I think we like to feel it."

He was not offended.

I am now going to leave this thread. I am only posting to ignore chronic pain. And this thead is not helping!

:)
 
Top