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#1044198 - 01/06/09 07:22 AM Reading two staves at once
Is it for me? Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/30/08
Posts: 2
Loc: Nottingham, UK
Hello everyone and a Happy New Year!
I'm new to this forum, having spent some happy hours reading the various posts. I learned to play the violin in my childhood, but having reached the ripe old age of 54, I'd love to take up the piano to satisfy one of my lifelong dreams. I read treble clef fluently for the old fiddle, and I can get by on the bass clef - although there is that little delay while my brain works out the note by imagining the note as being up one space (or line) to match the treble clef!
My question may seem really dumb, but how do you learn to actually read and take in two staves at the same time? My problem may be that I have always had the luxury of only having to read one line of music at a time. I'm sure I'm not alone, but the only piano players I know have always had piano as their first instrument, so they don't feel able to advise me.
Do you think that this problem is surmountable, or should I just accept that piano is not for me? A friend of mine gave me his old Casio MT6000 keyboard which dates from the 1980s, so I've got something to experiment with. I'd like to learn to play 'properly' as opposed to having the keyboard automatically providing a bass line accompaniment or chords. In other words, I'd love to be able to play an acoustic piano - even if only to a standard where I can play simple tunes such as hymns . . .waits for all the comments that some hymns are like piano concertos! \:D
All suggestions and encouragement are welcomed! Thank you very much for reading this.

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#1044199 - 01/06/09 08:03 AM Re: Reading two staves at once
Oxfords Gal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/21/06
Posts: 1553
Loc: Jacksonville, Florida
or should I just accept that piano is not for me?
Bite your tongue. \:D

Hi and welcome,

No one starts out reading two staves at once whether the piano is your first instrument or not.

I'm a late beginner and if I can do it so can you. It's a matter of practicing and going 1 step at a time. Get yourself a good method book that gradually introduces you to new things.

Playing the piano is like climbing a ladder. It's best to take one step at a time to reach the top as opposed to skipping steps.

I can't give any advise on how to do it because it happens automatically as you progress. You learn to use your eyes in a different way. Rapid glances, partial memorization. I'm not sure if it's 100% reading both staves at once or just some memorization coupled with your eyes hopping back and forth.

You can do it.
Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear, Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair.>>> Herman Munster

#1044200 - 01/06/09 09:53 AM Re: Reading two staves at once
musdan Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/05/05
Posts: 1228
Follow your dreams - with time you'll get there.

I agree with Oxford Girl's advice - if you can, find a good teacher to lead the way. A teacher will make it easier for you and progress will be a little faster.

Let us know how things are going and as Oxford Girl says...YOU CAN DO IT!!! \:\)

#1044201 - 01/06/09 11:46 AM Re: Reading two staves at once
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3773
One thing that helps a lot of my students is to understand that when we read anything, be it words, or music notation, the mind does not read letter for letter (words) or note for note (music), unless it is in the very beginning of the learning process.

I use the following to illustrate:

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.
This illustrates that the mind read things in patterns. Music notation is simply another style of patterns. As you become familiar with it, your mind will read the pattern, and allow you to play more complex music as you read that complex music on both staves.

Stick with learning to read music...your mind will absorb it, and eventually you will comprehend it enough so that you can read both staves at once.

As someone above posted, if I can do it, anybody can. \:\)

ps...the only time someone has not been able to read all of that scrambled mess is certain young children who have not yet encountered the words "Cambridge University". They stall at reading those because the pattern for those words is not in their memory bank.
Piano teacher and Blues and Boogie-Woogie pianist.

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#1044202 - 01/06/09 12:15 PM Re: Reading two staves at once
Rickster Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 10902
Loc: Georgia, USA
Excellent post, Rocket88! You've got me interested in learning to read music. \:D

Take care,

Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel

#1044203 - 01/06/09 02:15 PM Re: Reading two staves at once
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
You can't read both staves at once. You look ahead and memorize as you go. It's a bit like driving - you memorize bits of the scene and leave your brain to put it all together.
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.

#1044204 - 01/06/09 04:29 PM Re: Reading two staves at once
Kymber Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/25/08
Posts: 1358
Loc: MA
Yes! Youo can do this!!! It just takes practice.
Just do a little bit of reading every day and before you know it you will be reading both without even realizing it. And just think you are already ahead of most beginners b/c you can already read to an extent.
Good luck in keep us updated on your progress.
Welcome to the forum!
“The doubters said, "Man cannot fly," The doers said, "Maybe, but we'll try,"
And finally soared in the morning glow while non-believers watched from below.”
― Bruce Lee

#1044205 - 01/06/09 06:29 PM Re: Reading two staves at once
melwig Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/18/08
Posts: 95
Loc: California
I'm 53. I learned trumpet as a kid and then didn't play anything past the age of 18. Six months ago I decided to learn the piano. I still read treble cleff fairly well, but bass cleff has been a challenge to read quickly and spontaneously. After six months I can honestly say that it is getting easier to read both the base cleff and two staves. I see myself just reaching for the right keys instead of thinking about it so much. Try giving youself at least six months to a year of near daily practice and then ask yourself if piano is for you. By then you'll probably be hooked. \:\)
Keep it fun, and stay motivated!

If you can achieve something without a struggle, it's not going to be satisfying.

#1044206 - 01/06/09 08:26 PM Re: Reading two staves at once
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3773
Originally posted by Rickster:
Excellent post, Rocket88! You've got me interested in learning to read music. \:D

Take care,

Rick [/b]
Thats good news!
Piano teacher and Blues and Boogie-Woogie pianist.

#1044207 - 01/06/09 11:49 PM Re: Reading two staves at once
Key Notes Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/08
Posts: 744
Loc: CA
Welcome, and yes, it is for you, as well. I started almost ten months ago from zero knowledge of neither playing an instrument nor reading any musical notations whatsoever, and while the bass clef notes continued to be a challenge, I'm doing okay. You on the other hand have a big advantage of already knowing how to read your treble clefs fluently, therefore I wouldn't think that it would be too much time before you'll also pick up the rest of the bass clef notes as well.

I normally start off by learning hands seperate, then put them together slowly, one measure and one phrase at a time, and it has been working for me so far.

Good luck and enjoy your journey.

Key Notes \:\)
Music speaks where words fails.

#1044208 - 01/07/09 10:16 AM Re: Reading two staves at once
cosmic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/30/05
Posts: 30
Loc: Whangarei, New Zealand
Reading from two staves at once isn't that tricky, once you've had a bit of practice at it. Of course, when you're starting, everything is difficult, but I think an experienced musician such as yourself should be able to pick it up quickly.

Playing from two staves at once can be difficult, as you get the hand coordination together. It is more difficult if you're sight-reading. That takes more practice, at least in my experience.

Once you get good at reading two lines, have a heart for the organists, who read from three. \:\)

#1044209 - 01/07/09 10:24 AM Re: Reading two staves at once
Is it for me? Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/30/08
Posts: 2
Loc: Nottingham, UK
Wow! Thank you for so many encouraging replies. What a fantastic bunch of people on this forum. It will make me feel guilty if I don't have a go now!

I'll certainly get some help from a teacher, but with all of this encouragement I might have to go on the hunt for a beginners book fairly soon. Must read some of the posts about the best ones to get . . . .

Thank you all for taking the time to reply - and also to any others who do so from now on!

#1044210 - 01/07/09 11:18 AM Re: Reading two staves at once
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
The best books are the Fanny Waterman series but finding a teacher who really understands them will be difficult.
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.


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