Saturday, November 17, 2012


You dutifully open your Arban Complete Conservatory Method to pages 142 through 151 to begin work on your lesson assignment.  Anticipating dazzling solo material full of triple-tonguing pyrotechnics and flourishes of cornet heroism, you instead are greatly disappointed to discover only repeated boring wallpaper designs!  Groan . . . grumble . . . close book!!

You ask, "What does great music have to do with these endless patterns of boredom?  Or vise versa? Why must I practice these same uninspired measures in every single key! I turn the page and there they are again in minor, then once again in dominant sevenths.  The next page has even more drudgery in diminished insanity! How dull is this picture!"

Quite dull indeed, if that's how you want to think of it.  You must learn to thrive on the architecture of music as well as the drama. Theory matters. Arpeggios are to music what steel girders are to skyscrapers.  Without the ability to arpeggiate in all keys, performers would be severely handicapped.

How boring if all music had to be confined to C major simply because musicians could not handle any other keys.  "Sorry, Johann, we can't publish any of your Brandenburg Concertos because of the key signatures.  Ludwig, you are not allowed to delve into any of those foreign keys.  Such extremes will only flummox, dumbfound, and bewilder the musicians."  

For peace of mind and confidence, own arpeggios in all keys.  You will not have time to read every note of those fast-approaching arps in context of solos and orchestral music.  Welcome the "worst" keys imaginable and conquer them.  Make it a game.  Vacchiano would offer money to anyone who could play the one-line g sharp diminished seventh study on page 149 of the Arban book without a mistake.  Apparently he never had to fork over any money to any challenging student!  Amazing.     

Is it wallpaper or music? 

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