You’ve surely heard of the concept of nature versus nurture, right?
The same goes with one’s knowledge of music. Having the talent to sing or play any instrument by ear is laudable for many.
But whether you’re a professional musician or a casual music enthusiast, learning how to read music, on the other hand, can benefit you in a myriad of ways!
Learning how to read music doesn’t have to be limited to conductors, stage performers and musicians – from professional songwriters to casual listeners, knowing how to interpret sheets of music is not only a nifty skill (not to mention plus points in the event that you’d want to impress someone *wink wink*), but it can also be beneficial for avid listeners (and even casual music enthusiasts) to enjoy on their own:
Musical genres broaden your perspectives at a faster pace.
Surely you’re familiar with the popular tunes that you hear in the radio every morning, right? From pop to rap, music is sorted into different genres, each of which are created by individuals from different cultures who wrote melodies and lyrics from different timelines. Each music piece can also be translated into text through music sheets, and learning how each genre of music is created broadens your perspective on other works that people and cultures have created.
Preserve and appreciating music helps you and other composers.
Memories may fade but written texts survive throughout the ages. After all, Beethoven and Mozart’s masterpieces lived on centuries after their deaths because they kept their music in written form. Other people continued to remember them, simply because they could understand their work. From here, you get to appreciate songs that outlived their time and incorporate them into your own work.
Remembering any kind of music takes lesser time.
All the songs that you’ve heard throughout your life didn’t just come out of nowhere! And although one might argue that writing the lyrics would make it easier to remember, there are other songs that only provide melodies, not words! Writing the music notes down not only helps you remember the melody but it also gives you a better understanding of how that song was conceptualized and why it was designed that way.
Taking creative risks helps you and your listeners.
Whether you’re a casual singer or an aspiring songwriter, knowing how to read and understand music notes also means you’ll be able to see how a song stands out compared to other songs. From here, you can translate that to your own work by applying these changes to your own!
Collaborations and communications become second nature.
Music is a different language that you also need to interpret for others. With that being said, keeping your songs in written form means you’ll find it better to notate your ideas for other musicians and songwriters to produce once you collaborate with them! Conversely, being able to read music notes also means you get a glimpse of another songwriter or composer’s ideas, which not only introduces you to a different world, but also helps you get to know another person better.
The knowledge increases precision and efficiency.
When you first learned how to read, you had to mouth the words off and say them out loud, depending on how they sound like? The same goes for reading notes! Understanding how each pitch goes based on how it’s arranged on paper also teaches you how to be more precise with your work.
Versatility means stepping outside your comfort zone.
Since music can be interpreted in so many ways, knowing how to read music will gradually compel you to go beyond what you know! If you’re skilled in playing the piano, for instance, you’ll eventually be compelled to explore other facets of a music piece using other musical instruments, such as adding violins, drums or even your voice to the mix!
Originality is key.
Being able to read music also grants you the ability to translate your melodies into writing, which you can use to explore new ideas until you find your own distinct sound that helps you stand out from other musicians. Not knowing how to read usually leads to visualizing what needs to be played based on playing what you hear, which limits what you play to something that you’re already familiar with.
It’s a very useful skill that many take for granted.
Between a person who’s skillful with an instrument and an individual who knows how to follow directions by learning how to read notes, most directors would rather choose the latter. Why? Because knowing how to read notes is an uncommon skill that also sets you apart from the rest!
Overall, learning how to read notes is an interesting and useful skill that you can use, even outside the music world.
But what if I want to take music professionally?
If you feel the urge to convert your passion for music into a career right after college, then you’ll definitely need to learn how to read and write notes! Having this skill also comes in handy for professional careers in the future.
Whether you’re applying for an undergraduate, masters or a secondary degree in a conservatory of music, learning how to read notes is a must since these exams are designed to test your knowledge on music theory. After all, surviving in a music conservatory also means reading and writing music sheets every so often, so familiarizing yourself with ledger bars and g-clefs as early as now will be a valuable asset in the future.
The same goes for auditioning in professional bands, stage productions and orchestras. Although it helps if you know how to play melodies by ear, relying on sheer memory alone isn’t always guaranteed to help you out, especially if you’re asked to play a song on the spot. Plus knowing how to read music notes from a written source saves a lot of time, both for yourself and for others.
If you’ve ever been part of a choir in your school or church, members are also encouraged to have this skill. It’s also a given, considering that you and your choirmates will need to collaborate in order to produce a well-rounded harmony using a combination of your voices and instrumentals.
And of course, if you intend to teach music to the younger generation (or you just want to study music from an academic standpoint), music education requires a better deeper understanding of music, which, of course, entails reading music.