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The Thing I Thought I Couldn't Do



My sister learned to read music before she learned to read books, and for a lot of years, she was the one who could sit down at the piano and sight read while we sang, and I was the one who wrote songs, played shows, and mostly figured music out by ear.


We always said she was the one who could understand the theory side of music. That it was "how our brains worked". Until September.


I started to ask myself, what if I had just always thought of myself as someone whose brain didn't like to read music? What if I had always just leaned on my sister for her expertise, which allowed me the total luxury of having someone close at hand who could pick up just about anything and play it for me while I sang? What if I was avoiding the challenge of trying something totally unfamiliar to me? What if I could be good at the "brainy" part of music, too?


I'm mid-way through my first semester of music theory, and wowed by THE WAY MUSIC WORKS. Intervals and inversions, seventh chords, scales, and key signatures. They're beautiful. And really, really helpful when you're writing or playing music, which are both things I really love to do.


More than anything else, it's just a delight to be brand new at something. To turn over stones and see what's underneath. To trip over roots I didn't notice on a path that's wholly unfamiliar. I'm learning to have humility as I make beginner mistakes, and to feel a sense of wonder instead of the kind of overwhelm I used to feel when I looked at a page of sheet music. This area that I thought was filled with scary monsters turns out to be brimming with opportunity.


Is there something you've always told yourself you're kind of crummy at? If there is, this music theory student would like to encourage you to take a closer look.

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