More than one way to take up an instrument

Posted on: 9th March, 2015

Category: Music

Contributor: Mark Holland

Hunky Dory stocks a huge range of instruments, accessories, CDs and vinyl. Contact Mark on 023 8834982 or pop in to have a listen.

Formal or freestyle? Learning to play a tune ‘by ear’ or starting on page one of the sight-reading manual? For many this is a consideration when thinking about how to go about ‘taking up’ an instrument, when it comes to deciding how our children should proceed, it’s a different matter altogether. In the shop I often meet parents who can’t decide between the two; it becomes a problem when they can’t decide which may best suit their child and end up not choosing at all. My advice is to try them on one, see how it goes and if it doesn’t seem to be working you can always try them on the other one.

There is a lot to be said for both methods. In an effort to educate myself I asked two local musicians who both teach piano, in different ways, for their thoughts.

John, who is formally trained, has had great results teaching people the ‘learning by ear’ method. People can go to him with the music or songs that they want to hear, want to play, and quite quickly learn to express themselves on the keyboard in a way that gives them great joy and encouragement.  Particularly for those of us who struggle with the structure of formal education.

John often picks up students that have tried the ‘by the book’ method and have been left cold, uninspired, and even their natural aptitude choked, to be allowed unfold their wings in fertile ground and soar to unimagined planes to express themselves quickly. They are often playing on the keyboard the songs they wanted to play, the songs they have in their heads, the songs that they want to be played, within weeks. There is no better encouragement.

Tonya has a different has approach. She knows well that learning staff notation is structured, a bit like schoolwork, and doesn’t give instant results, but it’s not that hard. Learning to read music takes time but is much simpler and more straightforward than learning the alphabet.

Every one of us has different aptitudes, capacities and skill levels, but for most of us there is a limit to how many tunes we can keep in our heads. The ability or skill to read music means that, as time goes on, a player can at any time go back to a piece they have played before (or a piece they haven’t) and play it as they read it from the sheet.

It is hard to know if one method is detrimental to the other.  It may be that if you can play a few tunes by ear, you find it hard to go back to the beginning to begin on the formal training of sight-reading, but with a little application you could be back up to speed sooner than you think, and have learned a new skill in the process.  Often people who have reading or concentration difficulties have a gift to pick stuff up by ear.

For adults in particular who may have less time on their hands and just want to be able to knock out a tune or two, learning and playing by ear may be a fast track.  But for those of us who are a bit more ambitious, it’s the guy who can read the music that’ll get the gig.

I was talking to a (very lucky) person today who is hoping be in Mali this year in time for The Desert Music Festival.  As soon as I got home, I had to put on one of my favourite albums, which just gets better with time — a collaboration of two of my favourite musicians, blues guitarists Ali Farka Toure and Ry Cooder’s ‘Talking Timbuktu’. If you like that, then I would also recommend Ry Cooder’s Paris Texas sound track.  Hope you enjoy.

Latest News Articles:

Schull Garda Station wins ‘Leading Light in Road Safety’ award from Road Safety Authority
Go quackers at the 2018 West Cork Bird Race
Bandon in danger of losing its youth café
Local professionals invited to Anam Cara information pack launch
Bandon Transport and Public Realm Enhancement Plan shortlisted for Irish Planning Awards
Christmas on the beat
Clonakilty town aims to get snowed under with the return of the Clonakilty Christmas Express
On call for Christmas
Have your say in shaping the future of Clonakilty
Dursey Island project passes first phase in Failte Ireland’s Grant Scheme

Join us on Facebook

Visiting restrictions in place at Bantry General Hospital due to Flu Presentations

Strict visitor restrictions have been put in place with immediate effect at Bantry General Hospital due to the number of patients who have presented with flu like symptoms.

In the interest of patient care and in order to restrict the spread of the flu virus within the hospital, it is necessary with immediate effect to ban all visitors to Bantry General Hospital, with the exception of following: critically ill patients are restricted to one visitor per critically ill patient and confined to visiting times only, and attendance at the Medical Assessment Unit (MAU) and Local Injury Unit (LIU) should only take place if absolutely necessary, only one relative per patient attending these areas.

The elderly, children, pregnant women or young adults, those with chronic illnesses or vulnerable others are advised not to visit. Outpatient, Day care services and routine hospital admissions are not affected.

All infection control measures are in place and every effort is being made to manage and contain the spread of the flu virus.

People with flu like symptoms are advised to contact their GP by phone in the first instance and avoid presenting at the Emergency Department at Bantry General Hospital.

Bantry hospital staff are asking people to think about all their care and treatment options and keep ED services for the patients who need them most. Others with a less serious illness can be treated by their GP or out of hours GP service where their GP can refer them to an Assessment Unit the following day if required.
... See MoreSee Less

8th January, 2018  ·  

West Cork People - The Best Free Read in West Cork shared Cope Foundation's Happy Christmas from Cope Foundation. ... See MoreSee Less

What makes Christmas special? Children and adults we support, our incredible staff, families and supporters - these are the people who make our organisation so special every single day, but especially at Christmas! Meet some of them here... Thank you to the wonderful team at AV3 Media who kindly produced this video for us as a Christmas gift! To make a Christmas donation today, go to www.cope-foundation.ie/donate. We believe that together we can do great things and with your support we can do so much more! Please SHARE our video so that more people can learn about the amazing things that happen at Cope Foundation! Evening Echo; Irish Examiner; The Southern Star; The Avondhu; Cork Independent; West Cork Times; West Cork People - The Best Free Read in West Cork; Bandon Opinion/The Opinion; Vale Star; East Cork Journal; Cork Chamber - Faces of Cork Business; Cork City FC; Cork Institute of Technology - CIT; University College Cork; Corks RedFM 104-106; The KC Show Corks 96 FM; Cork's 96FM; Cork's Best; C103 Cork; Cork Airport; Cork Opera House: The Everyman; Cork County Council; County Cork; Cork City Council; CorkLike; CCCahoots; Cork On Ice; Glow Cork; CIT Cork School of Music; RTÉ Today; Ciaran Bermingham - Actor; Rob & Marian Heffernan; John Spillane; Ger Wolfe; Eimear O'Brien PR; Jack O Rourke; Theo Dorgan; Mahon Point Shopping Centre; Blackpool Shopping Centre & Retail Park

18th December, 2017  ·  

This is the real spirit of Christmas at Caseys of Clonakilty. ... See MoreSee Less

Are you alone or do you know someone who will be alone this Christmas? If so, then we here at Casey’s would like to make your day that little bit easier. We are offering a full Christmas dinner on us! Christmas dinners can be collected Christmas Eve from 12:30pm - 8:30pm. Wishing everyone a very happy Christmas from everyone at Casey’s

15th December, 2017  ·  

RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta’s has just announced its Christmas schedule and it features several programmes of interest to listeners in West Cork.

On New Year’s Day at 12.08 pm we’ll hear highlights from the Éigse Dhiarmuidín Festival that took place in West Cork in early December, remembering musician and broadcaster Diarmuid Ó Súilleabháin. An Nollaig ar Oileán Chléire is an archive show presented by Mícheál Ó Sé on Wednesday 27 December at 5.30 pm about Christmas on Cape Clear and on Friday 29 December and 5 January at 7 pm, Peadar Ó Riada will bring us very special editions of his Cuireadh chun Ceoil programme from Múscraí. Keep an ear out!
... See MoreSee Less

15th December, 2017  ·  

West Cork People - The Best Free Read in West Cork shared Garda Síochána - Cork, Kerry & Limerick - Southern Region's photo. ... See MoreSee Less

REMINDER: An Garda Siochana are hosting a Retail Crime Prevention Meeting, to be held at 7pm on Wednesday 29th November 2017. This meeting will be held in the Munster Arms Hotel in Bandon. This meeting is one of a series being held across the West Cork Garda Division, in association with Operation Thor, the Garda National Anti-Crime Strategy. The purpose of the meeting is to increase the cooperation between Gardai and the retail sector, ensuring that the current low levels of crime in the locality extends past the busy approaching Christmas season. The meeting will be addressed by the local Crime Prevention Officer, Sergeant Ian O’ Callaghan, who will discuss burglary prevention, shoplifting, fraud, and cybercrime. There will be a particular focus on cash handling and cash exposure of businesses in the run up to the Christmas shopping period. All aspects of commercial crime will be discussed, and we would strongly urge all businesses to make a special effort to attend on the evening.

28th November, 2017  ·  

Jump to:

Top