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Music is Sound Art

....Or the art of sound.

This is something I tell my students or the parents of my students and they always give me this look like I just said something really revolutionary.  I don't know how/why it happened but somewhere along the way music got separated from the other arts.

It's strange.  People see music as an art but they don't necessarily think of music falling in the same category as painting or sculpting.  But it is an art.  It's just as much of an artistic expression as a painting.  The difference is in which sense is being stimulated.  Painting is a visual art.  Music is auditory.

And just like any other art form you must study the masters.  This means listening to other artists perform your pieces.  The Suzuki Method has become famous (for better or worse) for making children listen to their pieces.  Unending discussions have arisen about teaching students to play by ear and whether this "Suzuki" approach is really all that much better than a "traditional" approach.

Listening and learning music by ear should not be restricted to any one method.  Listening should be part of learning music.  To me teaching a child to learn music from sight reading alone makes about as much sense as verbally describing the sculpture they should make.  Yes, it can sort of give them guidelines.  But if they've never seen a stone sculpture and studied what others have done with the medium, they can only get so far.

Ear training is really just a matter of practicality.  In order to be able to hear if something is in tune or not, you need to listen.  It order to become an artist, you need to explore what has already been done.  You need to explore where the boundaries are and what it would take to push past them.  Beethoven wouldn't have been Beethoven if there wasn't a Mozart before him.


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