Writing Music

Okay, it’s been a million years since I was in school, and I’m certainly not up on the current music ciricullum, but I wonder if the “old school” disciplines are still taught with the same enthusiasm my generation experienced? In elementary school, We learned how to read and write music. We would sing along with teachers as they’d pound out these great old folk songs on the upright. It was really music appreciation at it’s finest. It instilled my love for music long before the Beatles came on the scene.

Sometimes I ask students who arrange with drag and drop software on their computer, “if your computer completely shit the bed, and you had a session in the morning with a roomful of musicians to teach the parts to, could you do it? Could you sketch out some charts so they would at least have an idea of what to play?” Many say no, and some say yes, but with difficulty. This, to me, is where some of the current generation of musicians fall short. Technology has made it too easy to bypass what used to be essential skills. I’m not wagging my finger here, because with the miraculous programs and apps available, I’ve gotten lazy too, BUT if my computer shit the bed, and I had a pencil and some staff paper, I could dig those skills out again to save the day. I think it’s great stuff to know- that’s all I’m saying.Depositphotos_2017092_s-2015

One of those skills is writing music, and if you don’t know how, there is a world of books and videos available that can teach you just that. Back in the day, I would make my own lead sheets for recording sessions. it was actually fun. When the red light came on, you’d know right quick if you’d made a boo-boo. Another skill that integrates with writing music is dictation, where somebody plays something on an instrument, and there you are- with just- you guessed it, some staff paper and a pencil- immediately writing down what you hear. How accurate your transcriptions are is the acid test.