Growing up, I always had a fondness for classical music. It intrigued me how something could sound simple and sweet, but require a complex form of knowledge and skill to create. To be able to read music is essentially the equivalent of learning a foreign language. Music is another type of literacy that tells a story with emotion through the detailed and deliberate dots and markings on a bar consisting of five horizontal lines. It requires multiple layers of steps to fully acquire the desired result of fully produced music.
During the fifth grade, I decided to learn how to play the flute. Teachers have always said from day one that the flute is one of the toughest instruments to learn, along with having no basic knowledge of music whatsoever. The beginning process of learning music is just like how an individual would learn any new language; the basics. First you have to understand what you are looking at on the sheet in front of you. My teacher taught the class what each note meant and where they were placed on the staff. However, I became baffled when the teacher had to teach us all separately in groups based on our instrument. That is when I realized how diverse and complex of a concept music is. Music is read differently by every instrument, along with different key signatures and finger positions on the instrument itself.
While considering all of the logistics of producing and understanding music, you have to also consider your embouchure, air supply, and air temperature. All of which you are able to properly execute by reading what the music requires throughout the piece. These requirements are represented through symbols either above or below the bar in which it applies to. I remember feeling so frustrated and confused as to why I could not just play the music the way wanted, especially when the idea of having to memorize what another layer of symbols mean is in order. In all honesty, I could easily play it how I want, but that takes away the point of what that piece in particular is trying to make the listener feel or react to. The symbols help tell the instrumentalist to play notes a certain way to give off a type energy or feeling. The task of memorizing, understanding and connecting the symbols, notes, and fingerings seemed rather daunting to me. It took so long for me to get the hang of it, for while I thought it was going to be a lost cause. Yet, through lots of practice and dedication, everything started coming together and became a cohesive understanding between all of the subjects at hand. This change in pace was the moment for me when everything became a more clear understanding. I became much more comfortable with music as a whole, now that I am able to look at the page and understand what it’s asking rather than having to stop and figure out beforehand what it means. This was a big step for me in my musical career.
But wait there’s more! Not only are there symbols, but there are also Latin or Italian words used as well. Just when you thought music notes were a heck of a language to learn by itself, you also have to know a bit of another language. Different Latin words are used throughout sections of the piece to provide more direct instruction of how a certain part of the piece should be performed. Some of the Latin words used, for example, are largo, andante, allegro, vivace, etc. This required a lot of studying and practice to be able to properly understand the instructions the music is giving you. I remember constantly being tested during band class on what different Latin words meant in both middle school and high school. It felt like there was so much being thrown at me all at once.
For so long I had thought that there would be a time when you have learned all there is to learn about music and be able to play anything that is thrown your way. The reality of it is that music, like any language, is constantly growing. There is always something more to learn when it comes to music. You learn how to balance with the other instruments around you and to match their tone and speed. I sometimes can even tell what a specific note is just by hearing it. Through the vigorous process of learning music, I have come to learn that it has also enhance my senses regarding emotion as well a visual understanding of the sound being produced. What I mean by this is that when I listen to music, you can feel a pull or push of emotion whether it be of sadness or anger or happiness, as well as seeing a type of color or scene being played in my mind by the movement of the piece.
Music as a form of literacy is incredibly diverse, offering an array of opportunities expand both your senses and knowledge on an entirely new art form. To this day, I have played the flute for a totally of nine years. These past nine years of reading and playing music has helped me to understand what instrumental work entails, as well as being able to execute said knowledge through example. It has opened up my mind to a whole world or aspect of literacy and how it has helped me to develop into the artistic person that I am today.