Tag Archives: reading systems

#SOL14: Commencement


Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. 


Verizon Foundation on 06.01.14 tweeted this link to the 25 Most Promising Graduation Speeches of the Year and I was immediately intrigued to think about “HOW” that rating would be determined.  After all, Commencement for me is all about the music.  It’s hard to imagine a graduation ceremony without Pomp and Circumstance played as the processional tune at graduation.  Majestic, inspiring, regal, stately!  That is my view as a “listener”!




Pomp and Circumstance totally sets the tone for graduation ceremonies.

What does a musician need to know?

He or she would need to understand the sound symbol relationships in musical notations including:  time signature, “allegro con molto fuoco”, “poco allargando”,  treble clef, bass clef, notes, sharps, rests, crescendos, codas, etc. Could you pick this music up and play it expertly right now?  If yes, how many years have you been playing the piano?  If no, what would you need to learn in order to play this piece?  What knowledge gaps do you have?  Would you need to begin at the beginning?  Or with a little refresher or review of some basic skills and a piano to practice on, could you play one of the lines reasonably accurately?  Do you REALLY know Italian or do you just know some of the musical phrases?  And then what about the intricacies involved when multiple instruments have their own parts in the band or orchestra?  How does it all come together at that graduation ceremony?

Listen to a bit of Pomp and Circumstance:  Pomp and Circumstance for graduation

Expecting a novice musician to play this score well is like expecting a novice reader to read and understand the nuances of the Preamble to the Constitution.  Instruction is needed.  Appropriateness of the text is also a consideration.  Background knowledge and motivation come into play.  Depending on the age and experiences, some scaffolding may be necessary.  And then deeper understanding to be able to compose or improvise something similar involves understanding the mathematics involved in scales in terms of  the progressions in scales and the relationships between the black and white ivory keys.  Many, many, many layers of knowledge similar to reading a text . . .

What other connections to life can you make?

I can appreciate the beauty of this music without being able to play it all personally myself.  But if my passion is reading and writing music and reading and writing words, will I have to somehow learn the notation system in order to put it altogether?  When and how will this happen?

How many different “reading systems” are there in my life?
How did I learn them all?

How many systems will the kindergarten students need to learn in their lifetimes?

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