Since we’re on music.
One of the finest SSO violinists once asked me if my kids were in music class. I said Yamaha. He said, to my surprise: “That’s great, you know. Too many classically-trained musicians can’t play by ear.”
Broadly, you have musicians who play by Score, and those who play by Ear.
(Of course everyone falls somewhere in-between, but they’re usually more of one than the other.)
Those who play by Score are those classically-trained, who likely start and end up on the ABRSM syllabus, take examinations, are technically brilliant, can read a new piece of music like they’ve played it all their lives, join orchestras.
But. Ask them to improvise or play along to a new piece of music they’ve never heard before, and they are lost in the forest.
They (generally) need scores. So if I had to play a new piece with classical musicians, I would write out every single note for every single instrument. (Which brings to mind a recent string quartet transcription of Coldplay’s Viva La Vida and Clocks, me sitting down on Youtube and listening to the damn pieces on repeat as I write down Every. Single. Note.)
Those who play by Ear might be self-taught, or went down the jazz / improv route. They may not have great credentials, may not have great technique and are generally less well-regarded in Singapore than the classically-trained musicians.
But. They can play anything they listen to. And play along with anything they hear.
I started out as a Score musician and I still am, more of a Score musician. There is a comfort in reading notes.
But I’ve had the luck to play with some amazing Ear musicians.
Where all they need is a few lines of alphabet chords to effortlessly flesh out a song. These gigs stress me out somewhat as I, well, have no score. But I manage!
Day’s music school teacher told us parents recently: The best kind of music training, really, is to give your child Score and Ear skills.
I could not agree more.
It is these musicians who will have the greatest currency and relevance.