Fluency – How understanding musical context will help


As my own children are going through school, I am becoming more aware of the process of fluency.  In school it starts out with Kindergarteners, who can already speak, learning their letters, but it doesn’t stop there.

They learn to group those letters into words, and then group those words into sentences.  Next, the sentences are grouped into paragraphs.  Paragraphs are grouped into chapters, and then chapters are grouped into books.  Each step of the way the context is broadening and the teachers are asking the students to explain the meaning of the words, sentences, paragraphs…..etc.

In music education, it’s critical to always broaden the context.  It’s very easy to only pay attention to single notes because that’s the minimum that students need to play a piece. But what about groups of notes (chords), and groups of chords (chord progressions)?  If students recognized these larger patterns by ear, and visually through notation, how much greater would their fluency become?

Music is a performing art, and as such it’s very easy for performance to trump the process of fluency.  As I explain in my improvisation tips I’ve found that if I go into the deep tonal and rhythmic structures of the music my students begin to make larger connections which ultimately speeds up the learning process and actually makes them better performers. Fluency and deeper comprehension are high but attainable goals.  GO FOR IT!!!


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