Music existed long before 900AD when standard (Western staff) notation first began to be developed. How did they learn before that? They obviously had a different method.
In fact, many famous musicians/composers haven’t employed traditional notation. The list includes early Classical music figures; Francesco Landini, Antonio de Cabezon, & John Stanley – Jazz greats; Dave Brubeck, Errol Garner, Earl Hines, Jimmy Smith, Chet Baker, Sidney Bechet, Charles Mingus, Joe Pass, Wes Montgomery, & Django Reinhardt – Film composers; Hans Zimmer, Danny Elfman, & Randy Newman; Broadway composers; Lionel Bart (Oliver), Harvey Schmidt (The Fantasticks), Jerry Herman (Hello, Dolly) Claude-Michele Schonberg (Les Misérables), Charlie Chaplin, Anthony Newley, Irving Berlin – and virtually every Pop & rock musician & composer of the last 60 years.
Considering the list above, there MUST be another way to learn & communicate music – in fact considering the success of these people – it’s reasonable to believe there might be a “superior” method.
Music is actually based on simple interval formulas – numbers (see: Pythagorean Monochord). These formulas are key independent (movable “Do”) concepts, abstract theoretical principles that remain consistent for every scale, chord, & key.
Standard music notation cannot communicate formulas. It cannot communicate an arbitrary musical idea, concept, or abstract theoretical principle. It must give a specific example. Harmony is traditionally taught with copious specific examples, hoping the principle will sink in.
NUMU (number music)
On the other hand, NUMU is easy, intuitive, and was created specifically to illustrate interval formulas. I believe it’s far better to teach students a few simple formulas – that impart understanding – instead of requiring them to memorize hundreds of note combinations – that don’t impart understanding
Once any musician, regardless of instrument or genre, understands even a little harmony (how chords are built) & composition (how chords fit together), it allows them to see behind the curtain and grasp the inner workings of music. They can understand what they play, remember it easier, play it better, change their part, change the key, compose, & improvise.
My focus is not training students to just reproduce prepared material. I want students to understand what they play, not just play it.
I want to set them free