Once upon a time, when playing piano, I was at the peak of my powers in being able to read a grand staff. It was not fast, but let's just say my fastest pace ever in terms of being able to look at notes on a staff, and translate that info in my head into what note it represented, and then getting my fingers to respond, by playing the right note.
After I dropped the piano however, I almost immediately lost the ability to read more than 1 line, more than 1 staff at a time. It was wonderful! I was now playing a wonderful wind instrement, through which I could express emotion (couldn't do that with my fingers very well!) and have to only read 1 line, 1 staff, at a time. This freed up my brain considerably.
But once my saxophone was stolen, I had no instrement to play, and the singing that I had always done through the ears, I continued and concentrated on. Now, my brain would not have to even bother with the translation of note to finger combination, or have to know exactly which pitch level was being conveyed on the page all the time (if singing solo). I was in heaven! Singing always provided me with the most direct link of being able to read a piece of music with my eye, or hear it with my "ear", and immediately express what I wanted expressed.
Going backwards however, from singing to woodwind instrement is what I am finding tough. The goal of playing the horn now is to make it as much an extention of my body as my voice is. So that once I hear what I want to "sing" I just simply "sing it" through my horn, with the right finger combo. That's a bit of an issue that is over come , probably with daily constant practice. And you know, scales. But are there any particular exercises you recommend for this type of thing (not imstrument-specific)?
More central to my struggle however, is what seems like a learning disability to me. 1)My eye is allllllwaaaaaays dragging along, and 2) my ear is always speeding through to the next thought. Those 2 extremes, when put together, makes things extremely frustrating.
It has always been my experience that my ear wants to be in the driver's seat. Playing by ear is what I DO, and DO WELL! (I think. Or at least, better than how I play with my eye.) But usually, in most typical circumstances, you are requireed to read music that other people came up with and put down on paper, so one is constantly a slave to the eye.
But I do actually READ music. Intellectually I understand and comprehend, but if I stare at notes on a page for too long, my mind will no doubt start to wander, and I might even forget what the notes were. (and what the hell does it matter, b/c my EAR wants to go over here! )
That would plague me in theory classes in the beginning.
Any suggestions on the whole eye vs. ear conflict, and how this should affect my practice?
Play SIMPLE things WELL, not complex things badly.
LISTEN to the tone of the notes that you are playing.
Give yourself time to THINK.
DON'T get stressed over someone else's dots on a page - if you want to improvise, improvise.
If you want to play someone else's dots - be prepared for it take A LONG TIME!
Sightreading is a grand skill but playing by ear is just as valid, if not more so.
You see, one can tell themselves this all the time, and it not mean anything. But if you have someone else reminding you, and you can put a mantra of such words on an index card, and have it out as a constant reminder, then it may actually mean something.
I'm all about the slow.....when I'm awaaaaaay from the computer!
(to anyone who may be in a position to know) is there a name for such a learning disability though, or is there one that is known to exist, when it takes a full second longer for the brain to decode what the eye is looking at? I'm sure it's similar to slow regular reading skills. Although my regular reading seems to be normal, I am sure that my son can now read random notes on a page a half second faster than me, which is quite a considerable time difference when you all up all those half-seconds! Not that I'm competing with my son, of course, but given both of our relative accumulated hours in a lifetime spent decoding dots in between lines on a page.
I think reading notes off a staff is rather different to reading words on a page, there's bound to be a delay as there is an additional motor skill involved (hitting the appropriate key or holding down the appropriate string with one hand, picking with the other) wheras reading a word there is only recognition involved. That's almost instantaneous for experienced readers. The only way to speed up is of course, goes without saying really, practice practice practice.