I could identify the four types of sonnets as Shakespearean, Edwardian, Spencerian, and Petrarchan, elaborate on the Modernist works of Fitzgerald and Hemingway, analyze the epic poems of the ancient Greeks and recite the great Walt Whitman, but on my first day of choir class I learned of my illiteracy.
Sharps or flats, bass clefs or treble clefs, rhythms or rests, half notes or whole notes- I wouldn’t know the difference if it tapped me on the shoulder.
The art of language consumed me from childhood. I wrote poetry on the sidewalks with colored chalk, etched couplets into my school desks when no one was looking, but learning to read and understand music introduced me to a set of vocabulary entirely new to my ears. I struggled through, but I learned it.
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