Is it easier to learn chess or reading music?

Question: Is it easier to learn chess or reading music?

Chess notation and musical notation have a fair amount in common. Those who have studied diligently are rewarded with a chessboard/symphony in their mind. Still, reading musical notation and/or recording chess games are arguably the least fun aspects of “playing.” Some instructors even claim that it slows the learning process while new students find the practice dull or even revolting.

As a musician, I find that it is helpful remember that when learning a piece of music you can go as slowly as you need. Unless you are studying at a college level, no one should have a hard deadline to finish at a certain time. In the real world, a great deal of musical literacy has no speed necessity on the sight understanding part. It’s much more critical for practicing musicians to learn it right. Always remember that trying to learn a new piece of music to fast will undoubtably end up in working twice as hard to fix already well practiced mistakes.

As a chess player, the basic rules of chess are not very difficult to learn/teach but most new players despise notating their games at first. It’s simply much more fun to play 15 games in 1 hour than spend 1 hour focusing on playing and recording one game well. In chess, forging ahead without learning to notate properly will undoubtedly hurt newer players in the long run as they will repeat mistakes rather than learning from them. In youth chess tournaments, only the least skilled players do not notate their games and in professional circles, every player does.

As an instructor, I require that my students be either musically or chess literate based on their field of study. IMHO if you wish to have long term success in either art form you simply must be willing to put in the effort to build a foundational understanding. It stands to reason that such an understanding is much less likely without sufficient literacy in the art for which you hope to achieve success in.

My Wyzant profile is located here: Chris T. – Guitar and Chess Tutor in Fremont, CA

Published by chessmusings

Chris Torres is a nationally renowned scholastic chess coach working in both Bakersfield and the San Francisco Bay Area. His classes have attracted players of strengths ranging from rank beginners to world champions. A chess professional since 1998, Chris is widely recognized as one of the main driving forces behind the explosion in popularity and sudden rise in quality of scholastic chess in California. Currently, Chris Torres has the ranking of candidate master and serves as the President of the Torres Chess and Music Academy. Mr. Torres’ hobbies include playing classical guitar and getting his students to appear on the national top 100 chess rating lists.

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