Can reading music can help garner efficiency and opportunity otherwise left on the table?
It always amazes me how many devalue the skill of reading music, though I suppose I could understand how someone with skill sufficient to their playing environment would think it “overkill” or “just a formality”.
Far more than a mere formality, however, I have found it a powerful tool that I wouldn’t want to work without and have found benefits in it that those who taught me to read originally didn’t even know. It is from this standpoint that I wish to share three major benefits that can help you profit from an investment in learning to read music.
Reason #1: Musical notation is a communication system
One of the most important tenets of musicianship is that it is a group activity that requires precision communication both among musicians and from group to audience. It is itself communication.
As communication, however, music has its own language, and that language is musical notation. Using it, it is simple and easy to communicate the most complex of ideas among artists, especially handy in group situations. This can be a game changer in any band or other group activity.
Reason #2: Master what you may not otherwise figure out
My salvation for figuring out complex drum fills, time signatures, grooves and musical passages has been my mad reading skills. Reading gives you the ability to notate what is being played and to divide, subdivide and otherwise manipulate music too complex to understand.
Conversely, once you learn to read, it gives you a visual index in your thought process to where you develop the ability to “see” that drum fill in your head and instantly duplicate what it is and how to play it. Whenever I can’t figure something out, I notate it first and dissect it. Knowing its anatomy, I can play it. It’s a true superpower giving you confidence to play anything!
Reason #3: Save numerous hours of time in learning parts
One of the handiest tools where my reading skills are paramount is when I am hired to fill in for live performances or for studio sessions where I need to master a ton of material with limited time and don’t have the hours to put into the repetitive-playing method of mastering the material.
I recall a story of a cover band that hired me to fill in 48 hours before the gig. They handed me a couple of tapes for a 40+ song setlist and the pressure was on to get it learned. Carefully listening and charting the drum parts for the songs enabled me to arrive at the gig and not miss a note, section, fill or groove. It is something I apply to this day. It can really open up the door to gigs you may not otherwise have taken or thought you could.
BONUS REASON: It opens new opportunities!
Just knowing these three reasons, it is easy and simple to see there is a 4th advantage: opportunity. Undoubtedly you can see how that would be just from the experiences I have shared, let alone any realizations you may have had in hearing this. Many ensembles are sheet-music-based and do not come with “demo tapes” of the material being performed.
From pit orchestra gigs (of which I have played many) to orchestral and concert ensembles, and all manner of types in between, reading is a basic survival skill without which you are limited in the scope of what you can do.
Expanding your drumming horizons…
Communicating with other musicians, figuring out difficult passages and riffs, reducing time spent learning material and opening up opportunities otherwise closed, are four killer reasons to learn how to read. It is something which seems logical, if slightly daunting, to consider, but once mastered comes with a tremendous understanding and new-found sense of possibility.
Try it and find out how you can learn to read and watch your career possibilities bloom, grow and flourish right before your very eyes (and ears!)!
If you wish to learn to read, write charts or expand on what musical notation knowledge base you already have, schedule a free 15 minute Skype call with me to go over the possibilities.