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Learning to Read Music...Tips and Tricks? Best Mnenomics? #1894559
05/10/12 03:22 AM
05/10/12 03:22 AM
Joined: May 2012
Posts: 12
North Vancouver, Canada
kathykeys Offline OP
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kathykeys  Offline OP
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Joined: May 2012
Posts: 12
North Vancouver, Canada
Hi everybody, I'm new to the forums but am so glad there is this community online. Hopefully this topic hasn't been discussed to death already.

I've always relied on my ear and am just beginning to learn to read music. I can read guitar tablature but this is a whole other ball park.

What are some tips for learning to read music faster? Do we just keep practicing and staring at these notes and lines, naming them one at a time, hoping one day it all falls together?

My current method is to stick bits of tape above the keys with the corresponding notes on the staff in small handwriting. Also whispering words like "All! Cows! Eat! Grass" and "Fudge!" as needed.


“Master your instrument, Master the music, and then forget all that bullshit and just play.” — Charlie Parker
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Re: Learning to Read Music...Tips and Tricks? Best Mnenomics? [Re: kathykeys] #1894563
05/10/12 03:31 AM
05/10/12 03:31 AM
Joined: May 2007
Posts: 1,379
Stockholm, Sweden
chrisbell Offline
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chrisbell  Offline
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Posts: 1,379
Stockholm, Sweden
Forget the cows and the grass. But it's good to look through music and spell out loud the notes. It takes time, but it's well worth the effort. Think of it as a new communication language, like learning Arabic or Sanskrit, it is possible, others have done it before you (I used to lay in bed as a kid, under the covers with a torch and pencilling every single note . . ).

A remember, you have a marvellous graphical aid in the keyboard itself.

Re: Learning to Read Music...Tips and Tricks? Best Mnenomics? [Re: kathykeys] #1894583
05/10/12 04:35 AM
05/10/12 04:35 AM
Joined: Feb 2012
Posts: 3,838
Ireland (ex England)
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zrtf90 Offline
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zrtf90  Offline
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Ireland (ex England)
The mnemonics don't help much. Nor will the paper above the keys. It's better to go slowly and get it right. Take your time. No-one's looking at their watch.

The best way to familiarise yourself with the staves is to read one line of music at a time. Song melodies, hymns and carols where the melody is familiar are best so that you'll know when you make a mistake. Set aside a couple of minutes each day for this.

Easy pieces from the Anna Magdalena Notebook, or similar, are good once your hand is responding. Keep to one hand at a time while you're familiarising yourself with the notes. This isn't a prima facie sight-reading exercise.

When you can recognise and respond to notes up to two or three ledger lines above and below each staff you can start adding music with chords.

It would help to keep your eye on the music and feel the keys with your hand (feeling for the two gaps in the black keys at B/C and E/F) , just look down for confirmation periodically. It will help to say the notes as you play them, it will help more to sing them. When you can sing them before you play them you're making real headway.

The timing information is just as important, if not more so, than the pitch.

I started my boys on guitar and recorder tutors where the tunes were made up of only a few notes at a time starting with G, A, and B. It's easier to get the timing information because there's only a few pitches involved and dotted notes come after the stave is more complete.

One of the advantages of doing recorder first is that you learn to read music on one stave, one note at a time. Coming to the piano means you just have to learn a few pitches on the bass clef and recognise more than one note at a time. Dotted notes, rests and stuff are already done.

Welcome to the forum. smile




Richard
Re: Learning to Read Music...Tips and Tricks? Best Mnenomics? [Re: kathykeys] #1894625
05/10/12 07:39 AM
05/10/12 07:39 AM
Joined: Apr 2010
Posts: 2,496
Virginia, USA
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Andy Platt Offline
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Virginia, USA
I have to admit that during some dark moments, when my brain is all fog, I sometimes stare at the lines and have to think, OK F-A-C-E.

But, yeah, it won't help with actual playing wink

One thing that hasn't been mentioned in this thread is that when you are reading music, finding the "name" of the note (more importantly for the piano is automatically associating that with the key) is good for leaps and starting off. But for melodies, you want to follow the intervals. So include interval training too (plus you need that to read music outside the stave).


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Re: Learning to Read Music...Tips and Tricks? Best Mnenomics? [Re: kathykeys] #1894631
05/10/12 08:01 AM
05/10/12 08:01 AM
Joined: May 2011
Posts: 87
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PianoPraise Offline
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Welcome.

Practice, Practice, Practice.

Do you have an Adult Method Book? I started in Faber Adult Piano Adventures. It gradually introduces notes and concepts.

There are also online games you can do one site is Musictheory.net. I also have an app on my Android phone for sight reading, there are many different ones just try them and pick your favorite. There is one called C Sharply app has interval reading game also.


Be patient and you will get it.



Started lessons 03/22/11
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Re: Learning to Read Music...Tips and Tricks? Best Mnenomics? [Re: kathykeys] #1894633
05/10/12 08:05 AM
05/10/12 08:05 AM
Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 12,623
Georgia, USA
Rickster Offline
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Rickster  Offline
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Georgia, USA
I can sympathize with you… having played musical instruments mostly by ear most of my life has left my music reading skills very weak to almost non-existent.

However, I have been dabbling with learning to read music and you have gotten some great advice here so far… especially the part about recognizing intervals rather than the specific identification of notes (though that is important). Also, I’ve found it helpful to get familiar with where the note is located on the keyboard; soon you will be able to zero in on that note and nail it quickly (figuratively speaking smile ).

I wanted to learn “Somewhere over the rainbow” correctly by reading the notes on the sheet music. It was a very slow process to start with and then it began to come together… soon, I realized I didn’t need the sheet music any more; I had memorize the song and didn’t need it. Oh, and by the way, "Somewhere over the rainbow" is written in the key of Eb! smile

All the best,

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
Re: Learning to Read Music...Tips and Tricks? Best Mnenomics? [Re: kathykeys] #1894665
05/10/12 09:42 AM
05/10/12 09:42 AM
Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 16,954
Boynton Beach, FL
Morodiene Offline
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Morodiene  Offline
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There are a couple of issues with learning to read music that many people misunderstand, usually adult learners have the hardest time with this.

First, there are two ways we read music, and you must be adept in both to become fluent. One way is the way that most adults assume is how you *have* to do it and if you don't do it that way and accidentally do it the other way, you are somehow not doing it right and therefore are not a good reader. This one way is reading every note name as you play it (C-D-E etc.). Now, this way is important and valid, but it is only half of the equation.

For this first way - actually naming each note - I believe that mnemonic devices such as FACE, Elvis' Guitar Broke Down Friday or whatever words you like to use, are extremely effective if used correctly. It's a process however, and it takes time to get fast at doing this until you no longer need to use them. The way that I help students to learn these is note identification sheets where they have to write in the note name, and also play it on the piano. They are to do these at first with a sheet that shows the mnemonic device written under each note on the staff (so you have F-A-C-E underneath the space notes written on Treble Clef). I think of it as a "cheat sheet". Also, using flash cards and naming the note out loud and finding it on the piano using the cheat sheet is good as well. The more instances where you use this, the quicker and better you will learn it. Also use it to find the first note in each hand in a piece you're learning, but after you do that it's OK to just write in the first note names in the sheet music. You can also do this for the occasional tricky note in a piece. Once you have the mnemonic devices memorized, you can put the cheat sheet away and only take it out if you draw a blank.

Now, the second aspect to reading music has to do with reading the intervals. A line note going to the very next space note is a 2nd and so you go to the next note on the piano up or down as indicated in the music. A space note going to the very next space is a 3rd (or line to next line). A space going to not the next line but the one after that is a 4th, space going to a space note skipping a space is a 5th, etc. You need to become fluent in reading intervals all the way up to an octave. Doing lots of theory worksheets can help this, and doing sightreading exercises can help this as well because you don't have to time to sit there and read every note. This is the step that most adult students think is "cheating" or not real music reading , but it is.

Good music readers do both of these, but personally I do more of the interval reading than I do note reading.

Last edited by Morodiene; 05/10/12 09:45 AM.

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Re: Learning to Read Music...Tips and Tricks? Best Mnenomics? [Re: kathykeys] #1894668
05/10/12 09:46 AM
05/10/12 09:46 AM
Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 117
Spain. Cadiz.
supertorpe Offline
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supertorpe  Offline
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Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 117
Spain. Cadiz.
I propose the following process to learn (to recognize lighting-fast) the notes in a month.
Print 2 sheets (treble cleff and bass cleff), plasticize and trim it with a cutter.
You will have a deck of 32 cards (16 for the treble clef and 16 for the bass).
Start, for example, with the treble. The first day takes only 3 cards: the middle C, the next E and the next G.
Shuffle the 3 cards and go through them several times, saying aloud the note names.
Then each day you add a card to the deck:

Day 1: C, E, G
Day 2: C, E, G, C
Day 3: C, E, G, C, E
Day 4: C, E, G, A, C, E
Day 5: C, E, G, A, C, D, E
Day 6: C, E, F, G, A, C, D, E
Day 7: C, E, F, G, A, C, D, E
Day 8: C, E, F, G, A, B, C, D, E
Day 9: C, E, F, G, A, B, C, D, E, F
Day 10: C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C, D, E, F
etc ...

You can go with the deck everywhere and everytime and practice at any time.

In addition to this, you must learn and assimilate the durantion or the figures.
You can read out loud, away from the piano, the note names of a score respecting the duration of the figures. Start with very easy pieces, but read both clefs (one first and then the other).

And finally, do some sight-reading daily. Start with five-fingers-fixed-position.

Do this 15m daily and you'll be amazed at the progress made.


Started learning piano: 01 March 2010
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Re: Learning to Read Music...Tips and Tricks? Best Mnenomics? [Re: supertorpe] #1894756
05/10/12 12:24 PM
05/10/12 12:24 PM
Joined: Mar 2012
Posts: 322
France
Jean-Luc Offline
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Jean-Luc  Offline
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Posts: 322
France
Another little program I really like, http://www.jalmus.net/ (freeware java program)
The especially like to use it with the five and nine notes range using my keyboard as midi input device. I try to develop a reflex reaction between the note I see and my finger in a given position (well, for me right now it's C and G only, very early beginner). I also like e-music theory (similar concept but maybe a bit more configuration options)


- Please, forgive my bad English smile

Jean-Luc
Re: Learning to Read Music...Tips and Tricks? Best Mnenomics? [Re: kathykeys] #1894770
05/10/12 12:53 PM
05/10/12 12:53 PM
Joined: Oct 2009
Posts: 2,375
south florida
JimF Offline
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JimF  Offline
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Posts: 2,375
south florida
KaythyKeys

For basic note learning, it is hard to beat the apps that are available for cellphones. I have an android phone and use an app called Music Sheet Workout. I am pretty sure it was free. It is very basic, essentially the electronic equivalent of flash cards.... but of course it tells you when you get it wrong and gives you the correct answer if you want it. I have been using it for a few weeks a couple times a day to improve my recognition speed with ledger lines and the results are quite dramatic.

One other thing you can do is make sure you have some "landmark" notes, such as all the C's and all the G's. It is then an easy matter to figure the notes closest to your landmarks. Over time those close notes also become landmarks and before you know it the whole grand staff is your oyster.

Jim


Consolation No.2 E maj, F.Liszt
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Re: Learning to Read Music...Tips and Tricks? Best Mnenomics? [Re: kathykeys] #1894775
05/10/12 01:08 PM
05/10/12 01:08 PM
Joined: Mar 2012
Posts: 322
France
Jean-Luc Offline
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Jean-Luc  Offline
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Posts: 322
France
Another thing I noticed and that work well (at least for me) is learning a group of 5 notes (C-D-E-F-G for example) in every place where they appear (for example, middle C, then the octave above, then on the bass staff). It is in fact similar to what Jim just described and G becomes a "pivot" note, and you don't really learn "F" and "A", you just know them in relation to "G".
I use the Jalmus for that (but e-music theory would work the same) and I try to say the name of the notes when working because after a while my fingers react without me really thinking (which is good I suppose). So, it seems my fingers actually "read" by interval (It almost seems my brain is actually slower, I can still do the "line game" at the highest speed but I can't name the notes at that speed).

So basically, I learn "C-D-E-F-G", then I will move the group of five notes to "E-F-G-A-B" and "G-A-B-C-D" and see how it works smile

Last edited by Jean-Luc; 05/10/12 01:10 PM.

- Please, forgive my bad English smile

Jean-Luc
Re: Learning to Read Music...Tips and Tricks? Best Mnenomics? [Re: kathykeys] #1894995
05/10/12 07:46 PM
05/10/12 07:46 PM
Joined: Oct 2008
Posts: 4,885
San Jose, CA
Jeff Clef Offline
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FACE and All Cows are ok, but take a sheet of staff paper and look at where the simple sequence (lower notes to higher) A-C-E occurs--- or maybe I should say, recurs--- from the lowest ledger lines, through the grand staff, and up above through the highest ledger lines.

It is easy to find the aces, both on the staff and on the keyboard, and easy to remember. "He aced the exam. She was an ace pilot. The poker player won: he had all the aces (and the Joker was wild."

Write it out on your staff paper--- writing helps fix information in your brain cells. At the very least, it will help cut down on counting ledger lines.


Clef

Re: Learning to Read Music...Tips and Tricks? Best Mnenomics? [Re: kathykeys] #1895010
05/10/12 08:16 PM
05/10/12 08:16 PM
Joined: Nov 2011
Posts: 388
Japan
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MaryAnn Offline
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Japan
I used the iPhone app PianoTutor to learn notes. It's great away-from-the-piano practice, and the keyboard has sound if you are someplace you can turn it on.


Re: Learning to Read Music...Tips and Tricks? Best Mnenomics? [Re: kathykeys] #1895036
05/10/12 09:10 PM
05/10/12 09:10 PM
Joined: Jun 2011
Posts: 40
DanTheMan14 Offline
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DanTheMan14  Offline
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Posts: 40
Hey!

I used to be at that stage a long time ago and struggled.

First of all from experience I highly don't recommend not to use the " Every good boy does fine. " or " All cows eat grass." ect It makes reading take longer because you have to count up, and it prevents you from learning individually knowing what each note is. Think of it like this instead. " G, D, B, F, A. " " E, G, B, D, F. ". I also recommend practicing it in front of a keyboard, so you not only know what letters they are but what individual keys they are so you don't scramble to find which C of all the different C's on the keyboard for example. Look at a line or space and memorize them individually.

I understand that it is a lot of information to handle at first so please don't be hard on yourself because it is tough and your only human. Remember if you just individually remember a few letters on sheet music, that is still a huge improvement. Games have also helped me. This game is great on this website. http://www.teoria.com/exercises/read.php check mark visible keyboard. A healthy time limit to name note should only be a few seconds. If your speed doesn't match. It can be achieved by practice :P.

Flash Games helped a LOT for me.

When we were little, reading seemed hard. But now that we are adults it is easier and effortless. Music Theory is a language. Just like English, Spanish, or French. It has laws and meanings and symbols.

The more you learn how to read, the more exciting it will be.

I wish you luck for you learning this instrument just believe and you will achieve your goals. smile

-Daniel.

Re: Learning to Read Music...Tips and Tricks? Best Mnenomics? [Re: kathykeys] #1895821
05/12/12 04:06 PM
05/12/12 04:06 PM
Joined: May 2012
Posts: 12
North Vancouver, Canada
kathykeys Offline OP
Junior Member
kathykeys  Offline OP
Junior Member

Joined: May 2012
Posts: 12
North Vancouver, Canada
Thank you all for the wonderful feedback and advice!!

I'm excited to try out the flashcards method first with a program called Anki [http://ankisrs.net/] which is an "intelligent" flashcard program with pre-made cards uploaded by other users.

You guys are great.


“Master your instrument, Master the music, and then forget all that bullshit and just play.” — Charlie Parker

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