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Play the piece backwards? #2276728
05/15/14 09:00 PM
05/15/14 09:00 PM
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Diane... Offline OP
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Yes, you heard right!

I had a teacher, she's not alive any more, or I'd ask her this question, tell me to play my advanced pieces "backwards"! I think I played them backwards, and it just felt awkward! So I hadn't thought about this until just recently, and I wish I had asked her why she would suggested to play my pieces "backwards"? At the time I just always did what my teachers asked. But now I think I should have asked WHY.

Anyone else ever taught this idea of playing pieces backwards? Or heard of this teaching idea? What benefits? & just... WHY?


Last edited by Diane...; 05/15/14 09:02 PM.

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Diane
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Re: Play the piece backwards? [Re: Diane...] #2276729
05/15/14 09:05 PM
05/15/14 09:05 PM
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I memorize backwards. Not ZYXWVUT backwards, but in sections starting from the end (memorize TUVWXYZ, then memorize LMNOPQRS...) That way when I play it through I'm always moving toward more securely known material.


Heather W. Reichgott, piano http://heatherwreichgott.blogspot.com

Working on:
Cabaret (whole show)
12+ variations from classical ballets
Verdi: Stabat Mater
Copland: Appalachian Spring
Tangos and other fun music for piano duo

I love Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and new music
Re: Play the piece backwards? [Re: hreichgott] #2276770
05/15/14 10:21 PM
05/15/14 10:21 PM
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Originally Posted by hreichgott
I memorize backwards. Not ZYXWVUT backwards, but in sections starting from the end (memorize TUVWXYZ, then memorize LMNOPQRS...) That way when I play it through I'm always moving toward more securely known material.

Thank you for your reply on this!

& how many of you are at the piano playing a piece backwards right now!

Hands up all you who are trying a piece backwards right now? grin


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Diane
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Re: Play the piece backwards? [Re: Diane...] #2276832
05/16/14 01:49 AM
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That's not playing backwards. That's dividing pieces up into sections, and working on them out of order. It stops Go Magic Fingers. It stops senseless memorization and teaches people how to think about what they are doing.

But the real idea is to first nail endings, then the hardest parts. The logic should be obvious.


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Re: Play the piece backwards? [Re: Diane...] #2276886
05/16/14 07:00 AM
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There was a teacher who posted frequently on one of the other forums that required his students to learn Bach inventions upside down (left hand playing the right hand part an octave displaced). I don't remember him ever talking about backwards. I guess you'd have to know it note by note, and I'm not sure that's an advantage.

Playing phrases from near the end, progressively starting more towards the front, seems like a different strategy than playing backwards.


gotta go practice
Re: Play the piece backwards? [Re: Diane...] #2276903
05/16/14 07:36 AM
05/16/14 07:36 AM
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I have heard on this forum about literally playing a piece backwards as a practice technique. I may have had a student do this once or twice, of their own accord. It was when I was trying to get them to understand creative practicing techniques, and let them decide a way to play the passage in question so that they could improve it. They inevitably come up with playing it backwards, which then I let them try. I don't see anything wrong with it, it's just devilishly hard, and I haven't used it myself.


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Re: Play the piece backwards? [Re: Morodiene] #2276931
05/16/14 08:41 AM
05/16/14 08:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Morodiene
They inevitably come up with playing it backwards, which then I let them try. I don't see anything wrong with it, it's just devilishly hard, and I haven't used it myself.


I misunderstood. I guess (now) you let them use the music.

I was thinking of doing it from memory, which would require a rather thorough knowledge of it.


gotta go practice
Re: Play the piece backwards? [Re: hreichgott] #2276952
05/16/14 09:58 AM
05/16/14 09:58 AM
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Originally Posted by hreichgott
I memorize backwards. Not ZYXWVUT backwards, but in sections starting from the end (memorize TUVWXYZ, then memorize LMNOPQRS...) That way when I play it through I'm always moving toward more securely known material.

This is a very effective method for memorizing music. It forces you to look at the structure as well as the notes, because you're needing to find starting places each day as you work on the piece.

For example, one of my students is having great difficulty memorizing Bach Invention n.6. We looked at the total number of measures (62), divided that by 7, rounded up to 9 and then started looking at the piece to see how evenly we could divide up the piece for memorization. Nine measures didn't work well, but we could see that the subject appeared at 10 measure intervals, so we worked backwards 10 measures at a time. Still didn't work out quite right, but we were able to group the piece into 7 reasonable sections to memorize. Then we began. Sure enough, the last 10 measures, which he could just stumble through at the beginning of the lesson was memorized in about 10 min or so.

The benefit of this reverse memorization process is that as the student learns each new section, they will play forward, reinforcing their memory of the latter sections.



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Re: Play the piece backwards? [Re: Diane...] #2276962
05/16/14 10:19 AM
05/16/14 10:19 AM
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All of you teachers are changing this up on me. I understand the divide and conquer thing. Breaking the piece into SECTIONS, and working on each set.

But I'm not taking about dividing the piece up into sections and working thru sections at a time. Usually starting at the last section of the piece.

I am specifically talking about playing a piece "backward' with the music in front of you! Start at the very last note and playing note for note ..."backwards"!

Try playing a piece backwards. It just feels awkward.

Anyways, I am trying hard to remember what she may have said about why, but I can't remember WHY.

She wasn't a quack teacher, so I'm sure she had a purpose in asking me to play pieces "backward"!

And again, it's note for note, backwards. I'm not talking about playing "section"! I'm talking specifically about "backwards"!




Last edited by Diane...; 05/16/14 10:21 AM.

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Re: Play the piece backwards? [Re: Diane...] #2276969
05/16/14 10:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Diane...
I am specifically talking about playing a piece "backward' with the music in front of you! Start at the very last note and playing note for note ..."backwards"!

Try playing a piece backwards. It just feels awkward.


Well, it would. You've learned a set of motions in one direction. How you land on any particular note or chord depends on where your hand was when it left the last one. Even your fingering choices often depend on what you just played.

Do you reverse the dynamics, too? Crescendo and decrescendo, e.g.?

We had a discussion about handbell ensemble (vs choir) practice recently. The strategy for starting in small sections near the end works for choirs, where typically you have your assigned bells and make few changes. It does not work for handbell small ensemble, where people use many bells, many of which are shared, and must carefully choreograph the changes. Small ensembles work from the front towards the back because everything depends on what just happened.


gotta go practice
Re: Play the piece backwards? [Re: Diane...] #2276983
05/16/14 11:25 AM
05/16/14 11:25 AM
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Diane, I've done versions of this, and it was part experiment, part advice. It begins with the idea of sections as already mentioned. Then within a small section of the music, you might play the notes backward, or omit and add notes again, and other things. I think it's more effective if you have a purpose in mind, or your teacher tells you roughly what it's about (not sure).

Exploring it:
- We can get into autopilot when we play beginning to end. That can even happen in working on chunks. So backward might break that up so your awareness of individual notes comes back.
- There is also the idea that as we play we go toward something (the next note/passage). You're always groping your way toward what is less familiar. If you miss, you'll tend to play the notes you already have solid, to go to the next note - you're practising what you can already do well, the most. If you start on the final note, then the preceding note, and move to the final note, then you're moving to the familiar rather than the unfamiliar, and you're practising what is "new" more.
- Maybe what your teacher had you do was just to rewire or expand part of what you were able to do. A million dollar question: Did it seem to do anything for you?

I found this flexible routine especially helpful for honing reading skills, because automatism would set up fast and then you're no longer reading.

Re: Play the piece backwards? [Re: Diane...] #2276994
05/16/14 11:45 AM
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Hey Tim & keystring,

Interesting ideas, I think you both are onto something.

Just wish now I had asked my teacher for the reason. She would have told me!


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Re: Play the piece backwards? [Re: Diane...] #2276996
05/16/14 11:47 AM
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Suppose there were 10 notes in a phrase.

I could play 10, 10, 10, 10-9-10, 10-9-8-9-10, 10-9-8-7-8-9-10, etc.

It would take some mental concentration.

It's not completely free of the problem that a note approached from one direction might need a totally different fingering or motion mechanics than if approached from some other direction.

The purpose of doing a small amount of it might just be to break the flow to solidify learning.


gotta go practice
Re: Play the piece backwards? [Re: Diane...] #2277001
05/16/14 11:53 AM
05/16/14 11:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Diane...
I am specifically talking about playing a piece "backward' with the music in front of you! Start at the very last note and playing note for note ..."backwards"!

Why? To what purpose? In reverse order, it's a completely different piece with no relationship to the piece in front of you? Perhaps it was just a drill to get you to actually read the notes.

What level were you at?


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
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Re: Play the piece backwards? [Re: John v.d.Brook] #2277020
05/16/14 12:10 PM
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It could be a forced break in concentration.

With my handbell choir, I insert breaks. When we're working on a piece for performance, there will be a point where it is working smoothly. But they've been working on that section for a while, just like if you spend a half hour on your piano lesson piece and it comes. But you can't play it for your teacher, because it's a different piece when you don't that half hour running start. So I make them keep a page from another piece handy. We'll stop, and do 4-8 bars of another piece to completely flush the memory banks, then return. Each time we do this the warmup time gets shorter, until they can play it cold.

Maybe I'll try a backwards play for the same purpose.


gotta go practice
Re: Play the piece backwards? [Re: John v.d.Brook] #2277023
05/16/14 12:19 PM
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Originally Posted by John v.d.Brook
Originally Posted by Diane...
I am specifically talking about playing a piece "backward' with the music in front of you! Start at the very last note and playing note for note ..."backwards"!

Why? To what purpose? In reverse order, it's a completely different piece with no relationship to the piece in front of you? Perhaps it was just a drill to get you to actually read the notes.

What level were you at?


Hey John,

It was at a Grade 7 level, & I think you may be right that it was just a drill to get me to actually read the notes. Once you know a piece, one tends to play on autopilot.

Giving students pieces where they are playing both hands in the bass clef or both hands in the treble cleff. Makes the mind have to really think because it's not the norm. Makes the mind think harder. I think that's called abnormal! grin But a good way to wake up the "mind"!


Last edited by Diane...; 05/16/14 12:21 PM.

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Re: Play the piece backwards? [Re: Diane...] #2277034
05/16/14 12:54 PM
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Speaking of "waking up the mind"!

I always wear high heels when I teach. I love to look at my shoes. Gives me a "mental" break. So when I'm feeling like I need a mental break, I look down at my shoes. And I love fancy fun shoes. For that very purpose.

Anyways, when I go out for the evening, I put on high heels, and automatically ... I feel smarter. Why?

Well it's because my mind sharpens when I put on high heels because I go into "teacher" mode! grin

Mind over Matter?... I think it's Matter over Mind! hahahaha



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Re: Play the piece backwards? [Re: Diane...] #2277039
05/16/14 01:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Diane...
Anyways, when I go out for the evening, I put on high heels, and automatically ... I feel smarter. Why?





Because you're taller. Doh!


gotta go practice
Re: Play the piece backwards? [Re: Diane...] #2277184
05/16/14 06:02 PM
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I will play a melody or something easy backwards just to show it is possible.

But this is mostly to get students to realize that it can be done, and reading is such a strong skill that it can be done in either direction.

I would never actually DO it, to learn. It seems pointless.


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Re: Play the piece backwards? [Re: Diane...] #2277191
05/16/14 06:09 PM
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I'm thinking that if the student is advanced to any degree, then he/she might invent approaches themselves. You start with a difficulty or something you are trying to reach, and see how many angles you can find. Then you have half a dozen ways of practising, and there is a certain creativity to that. I once did practice two measures backward, but there was a reason to it. And it was fun. laugh

Re: Play the piece backwards? [Re: Diane...] #2277373
05/17/14 07:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Diane...
All of you teachers are changing this up on me. I understand the divide and conquer thing. Breaking the piece into SECTIONS, and working on each set.

But I'm not taking about dividing the piece up into sections and working thru sections at a time. Usually starting at the last section of the piece.

I am specifically talking about playing a piece "backward' with the music in front of you! Start at the very last note and playing note for note ..."backwards"!

Try playing a piece backwards. It just feels awkward.

Anyways, I am trying hard to remember what she may have said about why, but I can't remember WHY.

She wasn't a quack teacher, so I'm sure she had a purpose in asking me to play pieces "backward"!

And again, it's note for note, backwards. I'm not talking about playing "section"! I'm talking specifically about "backwards"!



I was understanding you correctly, Diane. I think the same reason for this applies to any of the other practice techniques we use: playing blocked chords, playing staccato instead of legato (or vice versa), adding accents on different beat subdivisions, etc.

When you play backwards, the intervals remain the same between the notes, but you are approaching it from another direction, obviously, so perhaps it helps you to anticipate the next note when playing forwards. That's my guess. All I know is that changing the way you play things and looking at it from all different angles is helpful.


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Re: Play the piece backwards? [Re: Diane...] #2277391
05/17/14 08:33 AM
05/17/14 08:33 AM
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My piano teacher would play (or ask me to play) a portion of a piece backwards to demonstrate how composers developed variations for other works.


Bob W.
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Conway, Arkansas
www.pianotechno.blogspot.com
Re: Play the piece backwards? [Re: Morodiene] #2277428
05/17/14 10:36 AM
05/17/14 10:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Morodiene
Originally Posted by Diane...
All of you teachers are changing this up on me. I understand the divide and conquer thing. Breaking the piece into SECTIONS, and working on each set.

But I'm not taking about dividing the piece up into sections and working thru sections at a time. Usually starting at the last section of the piece.

I am specifically talking about playing a piece "backward' with the music in front of you! Start at the very last note and playing note for note ..."backwards"!

Try playing a piece backwards. It just feels awkward.

Anyways, I am trying hard to remember what she may have said about why, but I can't remember WHY.

She wasn't a quack teacher, so I'm sure she had a purpose in asking me to play pieces "backward"!

And again, it's note for note, backwards. I'm not talking about playing "section"! I'm talking specifically about "backwards"!



I was understanding you correctly, Diane. I think the same reason for this applies to any of the other practice techniques we use: playing blocked chords, playing staccato instead of legato (or vice versa), adding accents on different beat subdivisions, etc.

When you play backwards, the intervals remain the same between the notes, but you are approaching it from another direction, obviously, so perhaps it helps you to anticipate the next note when playing forwards. That's my guess. All I know is that changing the way you play things and looking at it from all different angles is helpful.


Yes, Thank You Morodiene! I apologize! You did get the question right.

So I think this poster should actually read,

"If You Can Play This "Backwards" Thank a Music Teacher !!! grin
This one is actually easy enough to play backwards. Just wear ear plugs when you do! hahahaha

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Last edited by Diane...; 05/17/14 11:34 AM.

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Re: Play the piece backwards? [Re: bkw58] #2277429
05/17/14 10:38 AM
05/17/14 10:38 AM
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Originally Posted by bkw58
My piano teacher would play (or ask me to play) a portion of a piece backwards to demonstrate how composers developed variations for other works.


I don't quite understand what you mean here. Could you expand further?


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Diane
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Re: Play the piece backwards? [Re: Diane...] #2277461
05/17/14 11:50 AM
05/17/14 11:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Diane...
Originally Posted by bkw58
My piano teacher would play (or ask me to play) a portion of a piece backwards to demonstrate how composers developed variations for other works.


I don't quite understand what you mean here. Could you expand further?


Hi Diane. It's been almost 50 years. The only example that I remember was playing the last few measures of Prelude in C-sharp minor (Rachmaninoff) "backwards" and you get the opening measures to his C-minor piano concerto. I don't know if this is the same "backwards" of which you speak, but your post caught my eye. Many things I have forgotten, but for some reason this one stuck. Any thoughts? Have a great day. smile


Bob W.
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Conway, Arkansas
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Re: Play the piece backwards? [Re: Diane...] #2277658
05/17/14 09:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Diane...
Originally Posted by bkw58
My piano teacher would play (or ask me to play) a portion of a piece backwards to demonstrate how composers developed variations for other works.


I don't quite understand what you mean here. Could you expand further?

I think bkw58 means using a theme in retrograde.


Heather W. Reichgott, piano http://heatherwreichgott.blogspot.com

Working on:
Cabaret (whole show)
12+ variations from classical ballets
Verdi: Stabat Mater
Copland: Appalachian Spring
Tangos and other fun music for piano duo

I love Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and new music
Re: Play the piece backwards? [Re: Diane...] #2278896
05/20/14 02:47 PM
05/20/14 02:47 PM
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about a year ago I played a few measures of a diabelli piece really backwards

here it is

http://www.pianoworld.com/Uploads/files/normalandrev.mp3

It starts with the backwards-played piece played backwards on my audio system, so that you can hear if I really play it correctly backwards. Then after that you hear what I actually played.

It was very difficult to get this all down. You need to start all the notes where they normally END, and this is quite hard to see in a normal score. I had to reverse it on paper first. Then all crescendos revert, the chord progressions are totally screwed up so your intuition does not work at all. All figures go on the wrong sides.

Apart from some fun, I don't think this is actually useful for anything

Regarding backwards learning, yes learning the last measures first has some benefits. I usually start with the HARDEST measures, not necessarily the last.


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Re: Play the piece backwards? [Re: TimR] #2278900
05/20/14 02:57 PM
05/20/14 02:57 PM
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Originally Posted by TimR
Suppose there were 10 notes in a phrase.

I could play 10, 10, 10, 10-9-10, 10-9-8-9-10, 10-9-8-7-8-9-10, etc.

It would take some mental concentration.

It's not completely free of the problem that a note approached from one direction might need a totally different fingering or motion mechanics than if approached from some other direction.

The purpose of doing a small amount of it might just be to break the flow to solidify learning.


You think too simple of this. 10 may be an 16th note, and there may be an querter note at 7 (in another voice). Then you need to play that quarter note also already at 10. If you would play that quarter note slightly shorter (this is correct in baroque pieces), in the reverse you would have to start playing the note still in at 10 but a bit late.
Fingering should be fine though, but yes backward gestures are really awkward. The LAST note of each group now needs to be loudest instead of first. so you gradually need to get into the keys and then suddenly get out of it when you reached the start of the group and jump to the end of the previous group if you're still following :-p


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Re: Play the piece backwards? [Re: wouter79] #2278906
05/20/14 03:10 PM
05/20/14 03:10 PM
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Virginia, USA
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TimR Online content
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Originally Posted by wouter79
Originally Posted by TimR
Suppose there were 10 notes in a phrase.

I could play 10, 10, 10, 10-9-10, 10-9-8-9-10, 10-9-8-7-8-9-10, etc.

It would take some mental concentration.

It's not completely free of the problem that a note approached from one direction might need a totally different fingering or motion mechanics than if approached from some other direction.

The purpose of doing a small amount of it might just be to break the flow to solidify learning.


You think too simple of this. 10 may be an 16th note, and there may be an querter note at 7 (in another voice). Then you need to play that quarter note also already at 10. If you would play that quarter note slightly shorter (this is correct in baroque pieces), in the reverse you would have to start playing the note still in at 10 but a bit late.


I hadn't thought of that, but you're right. Good catch, and it does get complicated.


gotta go practice
Re: Play the piece backwards? [Re: Diane...] #2281490
05/26/14 09:16 PM
05/26/14 09:16 PM
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http://www.snopes.com/college/exam/music.asp

student turns in backwards music, with embarrassing results!


Learning as I teach.
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