Is it important to be able to read music?
Today I would like to propose a food for thought on one of the most debated topics of amateur chorus. Often, in fact, one wonders whether or not it is necessary for a chorister to know how to read music.
Undoubtedly, it is not easy to answer this question categorically. During the Festival, for example, I listened to excellent choirs in which not all the choristers knew musical writing; on the other hand, I also happened to listen to choristers with excellent reading but, to be honest, a little chilly.
My opinion? Well, with regard to the initial study of a piece, the chorister who can read the score certainly has an advantage. And I would also add that, when a choir reads the music well, the initial study times are reduced, thus saving the teacher a bit of effort.
Having said that, however, I would not overlook the fact that one thing is the initial study, another thing, quite different, is the final result. And the result, for a choir, is only one: the best possible performance. Much more than being able to read music in an academic sense.
Hoping to obtain this result exclusively with a good reading ability is not realistic, especially if this ability is not accompanied by what I believe are the four "cardinal virtues" of the chorister: passion, availability, commitment, perseverance.