It's fun to learn to read music
Since my last post I've reached out to many people on Facebook to tell them about my website. I've had responses from quite a few but I don't know if anyone has used the music yet. The developers of the website have set it up so I can use google analytics to track the traffic on the site, but I have yet to explore that feature.
What I wanted to discuss today is the process of learning to read music. 'Abdu'l-Bahá said that every child should learn something of music, and I take that to mean that it is important to learn the language of music. That's what music theory is - the study of the language of music.
Written music is the world's first universal language. People in all cultures, ethnic groups, religions and races have learned to read written music. Doing this allows people all over the world to play the same sophisticated symphonies or simple songs. Doing this allows someone in China to write music that can then be played in New York and then Rome or in Zambia.
It is true that there were strong traditions of music in the world that were passed from generation to generation orally and aurally, without being written down. The problem was that if there was a break in the oral tradition, through war or displacement, the music could be lost. Written music helps to maintain cultural continuity. Now we have youtube, which seems to be a reliable means to preserve music, as long as the enormous structure of the intranet endures and the lights stay on.
There was a time when it was normal for at least one child in a family to learn to play the piano. People gathered to sing in family groups. There wasn't much else to do for entertainment in the home. For worship, Churches and Synagogues appointed music leaders to carry traditions forward.
I'm not sure what is happening now in Bahá'í homes and communities. We are encouraged to add the arts to our activities, including music. But we don't have a systematic means of maintaining music's presence in our communities. I'd like to see the development of something like the Jewish synagogue Cantor in each Baha'í community. And for our Institutions to encourage Bahá'ís to learn to read music.
The simplest way to learn to read music is to take piano lessons when one is a child. Then one can replace the word THEORY with functional language.
Written music uses symbols that have certain meanings. Some symbols tell the reader the beat of the music, how fast it goes, when it repeats and when it ends. Other symbols show the position of the notes on a piano keyboard and how long each note should sound. These notes tell the reader to make sounds in a certain pattern, called a melody, with the notes sounding in distinct pitches. The pitch of a note is described by a pattern of vibration, which the human ear interprets to be music.
It is not necessary to learn everything there is to know about music scales or styles in order to read a simple melody.
I discovered a source for learning to read music on the internet. The website is called Opus Music Worksheets, a database of high quality, free printable music education resources for download, including free sheet music with simple exercises that train the user to learn to read music systematically. The URL is www.opusmusicworksheets.com
I recommend them highly. If you don't read music, try them out and let me know how you are doing. JTH