Continuing on my earlier post about the benefits of choosing more accessible performance and practice literature, I’d like to now look at the potential for stronger reading skills and exposure to a larger catalog of music. Inherently all of these benefits are in some way related, but these two seem to be most clearly interdependent.
As I mentioned previously, great musicians are typically great sight-readers. As the conversation goes, how do you get to be a better sight-reader? Practice sight-reading of course! Let’s take that a step further though … sight-reading music poorly doesn’t make you a better sight-reader, so practicing sight-reading well is actually more important than just to simply practice sight-reading. Students who don’t sight-read regularly or who frequently sight-read or practice literature that is too difficult often struggle to improve their sight-reading skills. Instead, they find themselves consistently demonstrating inaccuracy in their reading and potentially gravitating towards rote learning and memorization rather than developing a strong reading skill. Sight-reading or practicing literature that is within the limits of your reading facility (even when it’s not the amazing marimba solo you saw on YouTube) leads to more accuracy, better reading and sight-reading skills, and the ability to learn music more quickly, which segues nicely to my next point…
Inevitably, practicing and performing more accessible literature creates an opportunity for exposure to a larger catalog of music. As percussionists, we certainly don’t have near the canon of music available to pianists or violinists, but we have a quickly increasing body of literature that is more than sufficient to comprise a lifetime of practice and performance. In that light, easier music means learning, performing, and moving on to the next or adding more to an active repertoire. As facility and reading improves, more challenging literature becomes accessible without necessarily slowing the pace of this exposure to more and more music. In order to play the most advanced literature, one need not spent months or years practicing it if the musical and technical skills have been systematically developed with continuous exposure to music at an appropriate level of difficulty.
My last point about the benefits of choosing accessible literature will be in the next post, along with a few concluding thoughts.