Music Literacy Will Save Your Life!
The past few months have been an intensely busy period of activity for me. Having joined and/or helped to form three bands, starting rehearsals for the annual David Bowie Celebration concert, and picking up a couple of sub gigs, I've had to jam an unprecedented amount of new music into my head in a very short time frame.
If I were my 20-to-30-year-old self, I'd be able to tackle most of the material through intense listening study, with maybe some quick cheat sheets for a few of the songs. However, me being my 50-year-old self, I haven't got that kind of RAM in my brain anymore, and so I've been charting songs (writing out sheet music for the drums) like a madman.
You younger folks, I'm here to tell you: Being musically literate will save your life someday, and more than once. Being able to read music goes beyond being able to decipher the exercises in your method books. It's all about COMMUNICATION. Music notation is how the information needed to play a study, pop song, classical piece, or stage show gets to the musicians...keeping everyone quite literally on the same page.
Going beyond reading, once you get comfortable with writing it, you can write out charts for yourself (depending on your level of literacy, in some cases you can write them for others as well), thereby removing some of the load from your brain cells and enabling you to get a lot more music into your repertoire. I'm not saying that you should be able to write out a full score for an orchestra; what I'm saying is that at least a FUNCTIONAL level of musical literacy will get you places a lot faster, and you'll be far more useful as a musician to others.
Yes, it's very much like learning a foreign language at first, but the more you work with it, the better you get, and in fairly short order ... and the effort is SO WORTH IT!