Learn Fast - Play Forever
There are two opposite approaches to performing music: reading and improvising. The reading musician derives his or her inspiration from a printed musical score, striving to render, as accurately as possible, the appropriate emotion and meaning symbolically indicated by a composer through musical notation. The improvising musician relies scarcely at all on the printed page (and in some cases, is actually musically illiterate.) But the improvising musician has stored in his or her memory the vocabulary of music acquired by usage, and thus can perform a wide variety of music “by ear.”
Disadvantages of Extremes
There are serious disadvantages in adopting either of these extremes. The reading musician relies too heavily upon interpreting, in a literal manner, music composed by others. Since reading musicians tend to avoid becoming deeply involved in the creative process, they are often woefully ignorant of musical structure on its various levels. This lack of involvement is undoubtedly the principal reason for the extremely high dropout rate among preteen children studying musical instruments. The world is full of musical dropouts who in later years can sit at the piano and play a few bars of “Fur Elise,” representing the pitiful sum total of all they had learned in several years of lessons.
On the other hand, the improvising musician has acquired a chord vocabulary, and can play “by ear” quite spontaneously. However, there is often a significant amount of wasted effort in the trial and-error process of working out a musical arrangement and its stylistic ingredients.
A Balanced Approach
The best solution is, of course, a balanced blend of these two approaches. The well-rounded musician should be able to make an effective arrangement of any melody as well as to have instant access to the conventional written language of music.
The Rhodes Piano Method is a unique blend of these approaches. In the same way a child first learns to talk “by ear” and later learns the written language, a Rhodes student first learns to be guided by his or her ear, and quickly becomes accustomed to musical language relative to its position on the keyboard. When notation is introduced a few weeks later, there is already the comforting familiarity and excitement of discovery well known to anyone who has observed a group of children at their first reading lesson.
The Rhodes system promotes an excitement and understanding of music through rapid accomplishment and satisfaction. Students are never frightened by the complexity of theoretical knowledge to which they are exposed. They are never told that learning is difficult, complex, or advanced. Each degree of success in the various stages of materials satisfies, but at the same time leaves a thirst for more and more knowledge.