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Many people who love music and have a wide hearing acquaintance with it suffer from a feeling of inferiority because they cannot read music and are timid about asserting their opinions in the company of musicians. They may have excellent taste and judgment concerning what they hear, but they wilt before the professional because of his technical knowledge. The layman in literature and art will stand up for his ideas, but the poor music lover is apt to back down and feel that somehow he has got beyond his depth. So music becomes something mysterious to him and the musician a strange fellow who lives in a world different from his.
Obviously, musicians are the best judges of music, but non-professional opinion should not be brushed aside. The layman is the consumer and patron and what he thinks is important. He will find that with technical knowledge music loses none of its magic, but he will be able to see through some of the hocus-pocus now. The ability to read music is the first step and can make him feel that what he has to say about programs and performances is entitled to the professional's respect.
Educators think wistfully that some day notation may be taught in the elementary schools along with the alphabet. Children could master it easily, and many of them would have a lifetime of pleasure from the skill. But it is not being done, and the concert halls are filled with eager people who have found out too late that they are missing something important.
To these frustrated individuals, Howard Shanet's Learn to Read Music will come as a happy surprise. Not only because of its clarity and competence but also because of the author's infectious spirit of optimism, the reader will arrive at confidence and hope.
MacDowell Professor of Music
Copyright © 1956 by Howard Shanet