I am learning to play the harmonica. As with so many people around the world, the approach I use is to take a song and its notes somewhere from the internet and practice it until I can play it well.
But somehow I feel I'm missing something very important here. As I proceed further and deep into it I feel this thing can be briefly divided into two parts:
- Learning how to play a instrument.
- Learning what to play on the instrument.
The whole idea of practice is to do the first part. That is to learn the instrument, its behavior, its sounds and then getting so used to it that ultimately playing the instrument becomes a part of your muscle memory. I know that is no ordinary feat in itself but there is hardly anything special about it.
I am a programmer by profession, and I can type very fast. I know editor commands of a code editor called Emacs so well that I do some actions automatically. But none of this helps me in software cognition or code cognition. They sure help me in expressing ideas faster, but they are tools for when I solve the problem on paper so that I can quickly express it on the computer. In other words, typing quickly is not programming.
In the same way, I draw parallels between learning a instrument and learning typing. Currently I take song notes from the internet and just practice. This means that I am currently just learning the instrument, not music itself. I also see that a few people have the intuition to just figure out music by ear! I know there is some logical cognition involved which helps them do this.
My question is, how can I learn music cognition? What should I read and practice about music that helps in thinking and producing my own music and understand music produced by others? Is it possible to develop music cognition? Or is it only some sort of natural talent?