I have been taking lessons a little over 2 1/2 years, could not read music and am a senior.
It’s going to vary a lot Anna, and there are going to be a lot of factors:
1) The difficulty of the tune
2) The difficulty of the arrangement
3) How much time you have to devote to practice
4) How involved you are with the tune (it’s a lot easier to learn a tune or an arrangement that you love!)
5) Your own dexterity
6) Your own, innate, ability to learn and retain music
These are going to vary from harper to harper, and from circumstance to circumstance.
Yeah, it really depends on what it is. Debussy? A very long time. One of Sylvia Woods arrangements? A week or two.
When I learn a jazz piece it actually takes me the longest. I learn the basic piece, melody and basic accompaniment. But then I take a while to study the structure. The chord progression and the main intervals used and to what effect. I really need to get that under my skin and it takes a while. Then I have to play around with it for a while to get some ideas on which to build counter-melodies and to provide a basis to improvise over. The whole dissecting and analysing part takes longer than just learning the head and chords even though the actual reading of the music is often easier than reading a even one of Sylvia Woods ‘easy’ arrangements.
My advice is to not judge yourself by other people in these things. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Some people can sit down and play almost perfectly from the written page the first time though (and I admit I envy that ability), but they may have difficulty with memorization or problems playing by ear. Others can improvise an accompaniment for another player without even knowing ahead of time the structure of the piece, but can’t play from sheet music to save their lives.
So don’t worry. Just work on the things you feel you need work on and in the process you will discover your strengths as well. We all have problems in one area or another, and we all shine in others.
I absolutely agree with Kay 100% on this. I posted a similar experience to this in “Beginning In the Middle” yesterday.
I sometimes prefer working on harder pieces a week or so more than my teacher wants me to work on them too, and she usually goes along with me on that, because she knows that I have a particular goal in mind with the piece.
I am a retired certified music teacher who took up the harp two years ago this coming April.
That is not a matter of time or hours – there are songs that are pretty easy to learn and you will take just a few days to learn them and others you wont know them after years. It is very hard to tell – it depends how you learn, how concentrated and how many songs at the same time …
There is no answer for that sorry 🙂
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