Non-coding geek: Like a musical illiterate?

Net Efekt, via Flickr (CC license)
It might as well be
PHP to me…

In my bio, I refer to myself as a semi-geek: I use many online and computer-based tools quite effectively. But I’m not a programmer. I don’t know how to code beyond basic HTML. I rely on my network of real geeks for coding and server-side help when needed. I manage to get a fair amount of fairly sophisticated online work done on my own, but I know my lack of coding ability definitely holds me back in some areas.

I’m also a self-taught musician. I play guitar, mostly by ear. I can follow chord notations and charts, but I never learned how to read music. I’ve still managed to write many songs, and I enjoy playing. But I’m very limited in a jamming situation with other musicians because I don’t really understand music theory — the underlying structure of the music. I haven’t been disciplined enough to learn my scales, so my fingerpicking and lead abilities are severely limited.

Right now, my husband is teaching himself keyboards and music theory. I’m amazed at how much he is learning, and quickly. He’s also a consummate software engineer, programming in several languages.

It seems to me that my status as a semi-geek has an awful lot in common with my musical illiteracy. I don’t feel any compelling need to rectify either situation, but I just thought it was interesting.

5 thoughts on Non-coding geek: Like a musical illiterate?

  1. You have enough on your plate without taking up the study of music theory!

    I will admit to enjoying learning how music “works,” but I must say — you flatter me too much. I still have a *LOT* to learn!

  2. Yes, Tom, you have a lot to learn re music, but you’ve learned a lot fast, too — more than I ever learned about music theory, that’s for sure.

    I’m wondering if this represents a fundamental difference in learning style — you get intrigued by computers and learn how to program. I get intrigued by online media and learn how to play with it. You want to learn an instrument and you delve into music theory. I want to learn and I just pick it up and play with it until I get to a point I’m happy with.

    – Amy

  3. You sound like me! I’m about where you are on the basic HTML scale, but I can’t seem to learn an instrument no matter how hard I try. Then there’s my husband, who’s already an excellent drummer, teaching himself to play guitar (in the middle of teaching himself to be a recording engineer/producer).

  4. Thanks, Jane. Yes, I think there’s something going on here regarding different learning styles. I’ll have to delve into that more. Time to start reading cognitive science blogs again…

    – Amy

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