A FEW NOTES ABOUT READING MUSIC

by Jnana Hodson

On one of her first nights at the helm, our new director asked the choir, “Do you read music? Raise your hand if you do.”

Well, ability to read a score is not one of the requirements for joining and we have no auditions, so it was a fair question.

To my surprise, my hand stayed down. Just what did Megan Henderson mean by “read music”? Hear it in my head, the way a composer, conductor, or professional performer would? Not me!

Immediately identify a note on the staff? Well, I studied violin, but that was in the treble clef and I sing in the bass clef and that causes a delay when I have to translate what I see as G to a the B it really is before I pipe up.

Sight read? Well, sometimes yes. For many of the notes on the page, I know how they feel or fit in my throat and on my tongue.

And then there’s the matter of keeping time. Sometimes I’m a stickler for the beat, but sometimes I miss. Just saying.

It helps being in a good section, surrounded by strong musicians. But then it’s also fun when we sing mixed, surrounded by the other parts instead.

So do I read music? I really should have raised my hand – halfway.

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