Why did the Wright brothers build an airplane? They wanted to let men fly. Since the days of DaVinci, man had hoped to fly. These brothers followed what was later coined by Robert Kennedy, "I dream of things that never were and ask why not?"
There is always going to be something that is taken at face value as being "just the way it is." However, in the age of information we are now able to see and hear ideas coming from an incredible number of sources. I look around and see that most of the music instruction sites still present music in the traditional way. It is my utmost goal to help people play musical instruments as soon as possible. This means going in a new direction. Actually, it is a direction that so many people and groups started taking in the 1960's. This direction is learning in a direction that some would call backwards. In the old school, you played an instrument by learning how to read music as your first step. This is like teaching a baby the alphabet and grammatical rules before ever speaking to him. Of course you teach the child how to read and all the rules associated with the language, but far after you have taught him how to convey his feelings and ideas through speaking, first.
In today's world, and today's music that the average listener enjoys, the playing of single notes is almost always a very small part of the music. Accompaniment (chords in the background) constitutes the largest part of the sounds you hear in contemporary music. The second largest part is the vocal part or melody. No little tyke ever had to read notes to sing their A,B,C's. They played their "built-in" instrument, their voice, by repeating what they heard. I want to show people of all ages how to do this with their hands, whether it be on piano, guitar, bass guitar, or banjo. To play along with a song that has a vocal part, you don't want to play what the singer sings. You want to join the accompaniment section, which means playing chords. A sad fact is that for so many piano students and a large number of guitar students, they are taught to read notes on the staff line, first. This means it takes months, literally, to ever get to playing chords. I turn that around. My students play chords, first, and get to enjoy playing along with their favorite performers much sooner.
For guitar, bass guitar, and banjo, there is a method of transcribing music called tablature. This conveys not only the notes to be played, but also exactly where to play these notes. On these instruments, you can find the same note in more than one location. Showing an E note on the bottom line of the treble clef does not tell the student exactly which E note to play. Tablature takes care of this. For piano there have been a number of attempts at creating tablature, most of which are very complicated and many don't show how long a note or chord is supposed to last. I believe I have the solution and my method was selected to be presented on the Music Notation Project because according to them, "...it is certainly possible to solve problems in a different manner, as you have done with your carefully designed system, which is one reason why we want to maintain a link to your Web site on the MNP page. Another reason is that you've come up with a novel rhythmic notation, and rhythmic innovations are under-represented on the MNP Web site." My method is called NUME, an abbreviation for New Understanding of Musical Expression. Please check it out on the ellismusiclessons.com NUME page. There is no sign-up or charge. It is completely free to see, download, and to use to write your own music. Professional Music Instructor Dan Anderson sent the following comment about NUME, "Your NUME notation system is so sensible it makes me feel guilty for putting kids through our convoluted traditional system."
Tablature for stringed instruments was not created to replace conventional note reading, but to give students an alternative to it. NUME was created with the same intent. "I dream of things that never were and ask why not?"
Mike Ellis Music Instruction
9450 Skillman, #101
Dallas, TX 75243