The Synergetic Novel: Episode 15

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A plump little man in hospital scrubs shuffled his way into the door, pulling a tray with a platter. He looked at Matt, showing an odd lack of surprise at seeing Matt awake.

“Wakey, wakey, eh?” the man said with a gruff scratchy voice, his face leaning in toward Matt’s. “Why it’s about time. You must be right famished. What’s it been, a day?”

“A day? How long have I been here?”

“Pshhht.” The sound was like the mix between a sneeze and huff, “that’s a doctor question, ‘fraid. I’m just a low nurse I am. Be needing your breakfast you will, I am sure.”

“Uh,” Matt said, looking up at the single muffin on the platter. It looked fairly appetizing, but Matt didn’t feel like eating at the moment, “I don’t think I’m hungry, really.”

The man eyed Matt wearily, and Matt could see a rather hastily shaven Continue reading

Episode 14

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Matt had very few memories of his parents, and he couldn’t tell how many of them were genuine and which were formed by a mix of old photographs and his own imagination.He had always had vivid dreams, too, especially in the last moments between sleep and waking. It was in such a moment that Matt saw his parents at a distance, wrapped in each others arms, just like in his favorite photo of the two. They were wrapped up in each other, as if they had the whole planet to themselves.
As he watched them, he felt a sudden urge to come to them, and began to walk toward them. With the great distance, Matt expected it to take a great deal of time to reach them, but as he walked, the distance closed so quickly that in only a few seconds he was nearly close enough to reach out and touch them. They turned, as if to look at him, but their gaze stopped at something beyond him. He turned around. Someone stood only a few feet from him, but as he looked, his vision blurred, and he couldn’t make out the face.

It was a man, he was Continue reading

Episode 12

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Alice sat down behind the information desk, exhausted at the end of a full day.  In the early afternoon, a school class had come on a field trip to the library, and Alice was the only one available to give them a tour and read to them.  Then after school let out, one of the local scout troops had come for some merit badge… something.  Somehow it felt like she was catching up on everything else for the rest of the day.  But now it was 8 pm, the library was closed, and the doors were locked.  She slumped back in the chair, tempted to fall asleep right at the computer.

She looked down at a paper next to the keyboard.  She had nearly forgotten about her research on local history.  The sticky note had the names of the books Matt Robinson had brought in.

There was something strange about Matt.  When he had come in the library that morning, he had been dressed in an outfit that Alice would have described as being appropriate for a mountain-man, and he was accompanied by a young kid of ten or eleven.  His attitude had been very direct and determined, though she had assumed that he was a foreigner.  He acted like he’d never seen the inside of a library before, and was very conscious of everything happening around him.

But when he returned in the afternoon, he was Continue reading

The Synergetic Novel: Episode 11

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Matt stared at her.

“Actually, it’s been a lot of fun to research,” the librarian said.  “This has always been a curious little town to me.  My Grandparents grew up here and own a house nearby, so I’ve been to visit often throughout my life.  When my Grandpa passed away I offered to move in with Grandma so I could attend school here.  She’s really independent but she’s grateful for the company.”

A teenage boy stood by, waiting to check out some books.  “Oh, excuse me for a minute,” she said, turning to the boy.

Matt watched her.  She spoke to Matt as though she knew him well.  Was she just a very trusting person, or was she mistaking him for someone else?  And how did she know Continue reading

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Play by Ear, Write by Heart: Part 5

Play by Ear, Write by Heart: Part 5

In my mind, reading music and learning music by ear are completely different. I do read music. I’m rather slow at it, so far. I have known about reading music much longer than I have known anything about music by ear. I have come to conclude that while the principles of both overlap some, the methods of practice and levels of skill are completely different. I say this for a couple of reasons. For one thing, one who is new at the piano will likely feel very intimidated to play in front of a well practiced, sheet-music reading, piano player. While you may hear and see incredible skill and agility in the hands of the experienced, know that some such players have not developed any of the most basic levels of learning by ear. They do have an advantage, even great advantage, because their fingers and minds have developed great capacity for movement and coordination, but they yet lack the skills necessary for playing by ear or heart.

The other reason I mention that learning by ear and reading music are different, is for the sake of those of you who are experienced in reading music. You do have an advantage, and likely you will learn much faster than if you had no experience. But if you have never learned to play by ear, then you must consider that you are learning a whole new skill, a whole new talent that has very little to do with the skill you already have.

Keeping this in mind as you are getting started will keep you from getting discouraged. There is a risk that you may try to learn by ear, find it too basic or too challenging, get impatient with it, and give up. You must not consider that the ability you have will help you develop this new talent. The fact is, it will help you, but if you have that in mind as you try to learn to play by ear, you will likely find yourself getting discouraged, and you’ll eventually give up. I promise you, the effort is well worth whatever time and energy it may take.

If you have practice and experience with both learning by ear and reading music, wonderful! Help others learn these skills, since there are so few who have confidence in their ability to learn these things.

Most of the accomplished musicians I have met have mastered both arts, ear and reading. They find it easy to play by heart. They can write music with ease. There are reasons for this that we will discuss later. I will say that those who learn to play by ear have a much easier time learning to write their own music and play by heart than those who only read music.