Why Rudiments?


Resource Type: Articles
Topics: Music | Singing

Music is a language, thus it communicates. Just as you learn to communicate at a young age without understanding any grammar, you can learn music without understanding rudiments. But to communicate more effectively with music, understanding the building blocks of music (rudiments) is essential.

Ryan Kimberlin

Rudiments can enrich your musical enjoyment by helping you better understand how music works.

Lee Weaver

It opens up a world of understanding what is taking place in the music, and also allows you to access all the music that’s been written down, rather than only accessing what your memory can hold.

Daniel Yutzy

If you sing or play an instrument, your ear already knows much of what a Rudiments of Music class teaches. Most importantly, a Rudiments course gives you the language and skills to understand and apply both what you hear and see. You can understand more fully what you hear, and you can translate what you see on the page to sound for the ear. It’s a beautiful and powerful tool.

Brandon Mullet

Music is communication that we can hear, speak, and understand. When we become literate in this language, we can also read and write it. Rudiments are the building blocks of that language. When combined, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, because we listen and comprehend not only with our bodies and senses but with our hearts and spirits.

Gwendolyn Good

Music is sound. It’s in the air and in the ear, meant to be played and sung and moved to. But in the last millennium or so we have gradually developed a written musical code, and (as demonstrated by the hymnals in our pews) we hope people can understand the code and convert it into sound. Rudiments is the study of how to crack the code, and turn symbols into sounds (reading music) or sounds into symbols (writing music). It’s not essential for singing, playing, and enjoying music, but it is necessary if you want to make sense of written music.

Wendell Nisly

Music is made up of patterns of pitches and rhythms that join together to make certain sounds. A study of Rudiments is looking at the individual elements or building blocks that make up the whole musical structure.  It is a puzzle to solve, a predictable mathematical system to logically discover, an organism to dissect.

Regina Brubaker

Rudiments is the study of the musical language and is necessary to build a strong musical foundation. Many students enjoy music more while learning the language of melody, rhythm, and harmony. Sight singing or sight reading is using knowledge of rudiments in actual performance of music.

Dwilyn Beiler

We engage music in many forms.  Electronic devices can connect us to wonderful sounds in mere seconds.  The isolations of Covid reminded us of what we’ve always known, yet not fully understood: that beyond hearing and enjoying songs, we need to sing them – and sing together.  Pitches and rhythms are not the song, but a gateway to a song somewhere inside them, waiting to be discovered.  Rudiments of Music begins unlocking the mystery of notes on the page.  It opens the path to finding the song, connecting into its heart, making it your own, and fleshing it out by singing it yourself — and together.

Lloyd Kauffman

Studying music rudiments is like studying astronomy or biology–it equips the learner with the eyes to see and ears to hear and appreciate the order and design in the surrounding landscape.  In the case of music, this landscape is both written and (more fundamentally) aural.  Studying rudiments has practical benefits (e.g., helping you to read notated music), but it also has the potential to fill your soul with wonder and delight.

Anthony Glick

This article is a collection of responses from SCMC instructors answering the question: “Why is the study of rudiments important?”

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