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Why We’re Different

At the New School of American Music we teach pop music and only pop music. Yet ninety five percent of piano teachers as a whole teach only classical. In fact when students learn pop tunes from a traditional piano teacher, they most likely learn to play them in classical style. The result is often disappointing. There’s a world of difference between the classical and pop methods of playing, and the two systems should not be used interchangeably.

Pop music differs from classical in many ways, starting with the learning process itself. For starters, pop piano players seldom depend on written music. Many pop musicians cannot even read music notation at all. So how is it pop music professionals learn to play?

Consider this. Music has always been an important part of the human culture. Thousands of years before musical notation even existed, people created and preserved their music, using only their innate senses. They learned music similar to the way we all learn languages — by imitation and repetition of the sounds they heard.

We at the New School of American Music believe all humans are born with the ability to be creative through music. But in our culture the creative seeds are often misdirected — even stifled — through well meaning but needless regimentation.

Formal classical music studies came about some 500 years ago, and linked music education with mastering music notation. This changed the notion of how one learns music. In a sense, the notation system took music away from the people and entrusted it to the educated few.

But now, thanks in part to audio recording technology, we’re learning music once again through the aural process. Now almost anyone can participate without a tedious lifelong dedication to mastering the notation system.

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