Significances to Mass

Information per se is useless unless put to use. That is axiomatic.  However, publishers continue putting out the ‘latest’ in learning… whatever.  It makes them and the PhD’s that write the texts wealthy.  The consumer is only too willing to put out cash for those ‘latest’ learning texts. When one system falls short the pianist looks for another… and another. New texts have more attractive graphics, or promote different organization of the material. Still, the lack of an ability in learning a language, spoken or music, persists.

The imbalance of significance to mass is extremely apparent yet no one seems to recognize the imbalance.  Significance may be defined as information.  There is much information but its use (mass) is lacking. Memorizing significances such as parts of speech is fine. But without an ability to put parts of speech in sentences leave the student with only a grade in their language classes but no ability to speak the language.

A three or four-year-old in any country in the world speaks and understands the language of his/her country.  But the adult student only understands significances.  Putting a sentence together with basic syntax of subject-verb-object is beyond the foreign language student’s ability.  However, the same language student may be able to translate texts, but must use a ‘phrase book’ when visiting a foreign country.  The piano student is taught significances; scales, rhythmic values, the key circle, etc., but must use his/her phrase book …the music page… in order to play music.  Putting a phrase together in basic music syntax of ‘IV-V-I’ is just not possible.

Use, is the key to learning to play music. The three or four-year-old uses his words regularly in the language of his country with parents and other children, while being exposed to the language with TV and surrounding signs and phrases.  Limited vocabulary is not a deterrent.

An Atlantic article is very apropos;  search, ‘The Wrong Way to Teach Grammar’

The language or music student feels the need for more and more significance so that that they become fluent in the language, but that never happens.

Ralph Carroll Hedges B.Ed., B.M., M.M.

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