There are no squibs in music

MONDAY, October 12, 2020 – 9:56 AM

What’s a squib?

In the Harry Potter universe there are wizards and muggles, and squibs. The wizards do magic because they are born with special powers. You can’t do magic in his world unless you have powers, and you have to be born with them. You either have those power, or you don’t. Then the rest of becoming a wizard is being taught how to use your powers.

Squibs are the people who can sense magic but have no talent for doing it. In some cases they see when someone is doing magic, but they have no powers. They are the people who are left out but who know what they could do if only they had those powers. Many people in the real world think they are musical squibs, even if they don’t know the word.

Are there musical squibs?

Almost never. In the real world it’s not true that some people are born with musical powers, and others are not. When someone can’t play an instrument or sing, usually it means they have not been taught, or they have been taught badly. In the real world playing is mostly about whether or not you are willing to work hard, and getting a good teacher.

So why can’t more people play piano or keyboard?

Because in general piano instruction is not very good.In fact, for piano as a solo instrument most of the instruction is either weak or downright awful. The sad fact is that in the US anyone can claim to teach piano. Anyone can charge you a lot of money to learn while knowing nothing. You do not need a degree, a license or teaching experience to call yourself a teacher and start charging money. You just need to convince people to give you money and then deposit the money.

What is the biggest problem with musical instruction from teachers who actually can play themselves?

It’s the teaching of music reading. No one seems to know how to do it. No one seems to know what steps to go through to set up success, so every year hundreds of thousands of people start piano or keyboard lessons and then end up quitting having totally failed to learn how to read and play. If you can’t read music, usually you can’t learn music. If you can’t learn music, you’ll never play something you want to play. Or even if you finally do play something you like, it will be slow, and it will take you forever to learn it. And even then when you stop reviewing the music, you’ll forget it.

We don’t like to fail…

I know I don’t like to. Failing makes me feel stupid. Failing makes me hate the thing I failed to learn. So when you start out trying to learn something, if you fail you will probably hate it. That’s whys so many people hate algebra. And foreign language. We end up hating the things we are bad at because it makes us feel stupid, and many times we don’t know that the real failure was from the teachers.

Where do piano lessons go wrong?

It happens in the first six months. After six months, if you can’t find lines and spaces, if you can’t play a simple tune, if you don’t know a few chords and scales, if you just can’t play anything that you can show off at least for your family or friends, you’re going to quit. Success leads to success. Every month you continue with lessons while you are not learning it just adds to a feeling of frustration. No one likes doing work and getting nothing for the work. That’s not how human beings operate.

If you have taken lessons for several months but you aren’t getting anywhere, whose fault is it?

If you have a good teacher but you refuse to do anything that teacher recommends, and you aren’t doing any work, it’s your fault. No teacher can teach a student who does no work and who won’t follow sound advice. But that is NOT usually the problem.

Yyou are really trying, you are really listening, but you aren’t getting anywhere. Can that your fault?

No. You either have a poor teacher or you have a teachers who is just not right for you. No student should fail at something when the student is putting in a good effort.

So what’s probably going wrong if you aren’t getting anywhere?

It always comes down to two main problems. If you aren’t learning to read music, everything is hard, and slow, and frustrating, and most likely boring. So you will not get anywhere. That leads to failure.

If no one has told you efficient ways to practice, So you end up putting in 10 or 20 times as much work as necessary to make a bit of progress. That also leads to failure. And failure eventually means quitting with nothing to show for your work.

How do you fix this?

If you have been working with a teacher for six months or a year and you aren’t getting anywhere, figure out if you are really trying, really listening, really putting in work. If the answer is yes, if you are really doing the work, unless you have some kind of unusual learning disability something really important is not happening in lessons. In almost every case it turns out you are not learning to read music properly. Then, if reading the music is not the problem, your practice strategies are not working. You are taking too long to learn you music because you don’t know how to learn efficiently. No one practices efficiently without being taught how to do it.

When do you know when you have a good teacher?

First of all, the teacher’s other students will be successful. You will sense that other people are learning. Beyond that you will know that you are being taught to read music. There is nothing more important than that. In addition, you will experience success in what you are learning. You will sense progress. You will gain both confidence and the skills that give you confidence. You will start learning music you never saw or heard before. And every few months you will know you are getting better.


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