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Flying Hands Music School in Louisville, Kentucky


Sight Reading Music vs By Ear

My wife plays violin and is a very good sight reader. She can ad-lib on the violin, but is a better reader. I am a good improviser on guitar and can read guitar music, but not like she can on the violin. Thankfully, our teen-aged daughter inherited both gifts. She reads drums and percussion in band and is quite good at it. She also can jam with a band on a drum set with a great deal of comfort. Obviously, there's a lot of room for her to grow in both dimensions because she's still young.
Rock singer Pat Benatar had opera training, Lady Gaga sang jazz and studied piano. Both of these performers read and ad-lib very well. A serious Classical piano player will fall into the same category as my wife and be a great reader. Louisville Orchestra Director Teddy Abrams jams all around town on piano and clarinet, both. He obviously has the gifts of reading and improvisation.
Sight-reading (notes on a page) developes great technique. Classical training in particular, is strict about hand placement, breathing and posture for piano, guitar and voice, as well. Improvisation comes straight from the heart. The greatest musicians can do both. Being a technician that improvises often has amazing results. We will extend this subject on the next blog, covering Technique vs Feel.

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