Score Reading Project – Day 1

I just finished reading a really interesting book, So Good They Cant Ignore You, by Cal Newport. The book is ultimately about how we find joy in what we do for a living. A big piece of advice is to approach whatever you do with what Newport calls a craftsman mindset; focus on the quality of your output and the fun stuff will follow (he has other good tips as well, but I’ll skip those). According to the book, the primary way we get better is through constant deliberate practice, rather than accepting your work once it is considered good enough. As a musician, I am familiar with the idea of deliberate practice. But I had never thought to apply this way of thinking to my day-to-day job as an attorney. So while I have some ideas on how to ‘practice’ law, I also got inspired to start a new music project: improving my score reading.

I was a piano performance major in college. And after that I accompanied singers and instrumentalists professionally for two years. So, even with a few rusty years in between, I am still a pretty decent sight reader. But I have always thought it would be really neat to be better at reading open scores. For those of you who don’t read music, or aren’t music geeks, here’s how it works.

Normal piano music looks like this:

There is a Treble clef and bass clef. Pianists get used to reading two staves at once.

Bach chorales in open score looks like this:

Four staves at once. Obviously, this is harder. Not to mention here there are C clefs, which pianists (me included) aren’t used to reading.

Haydn Symphonies look like this:

You get the idea.

I had a great teacher in college that introduced me to the concept of reading scores. It was hard work then, and with everything else going on at the time, I didn’t give it a lot of effort at the time. So, why not now?

My ultimate goal is to be able to play through some symphonies with a friend. One person takes the string parts; the other takes the winds. I mean, can you imagine a better way to spend a Friday night?! Plan is to start with the Bach chorales, and go from there. I will use this to log my practice–kind of a practice journal. See you soon!