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Reading Intervallically #2596358 12/20/16 01:41 AM
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Arghhh Offline OP
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I've been teaching reading Intervallically to my students and have been wondering how to deal with reading intervals between the last note in a line and the first note in the next line, as well as key signatures. I haven't really been aware of how I actually read music. Since I'm playing a cello sonata currently that uses tenor clef, a clef I'm not used to playing from, I decided to analyze what I do.

Here's what I found:
- On melodic intervals I really only feel comfortable reading seconds and thirds. Any intervals larger than that I had to force myself to read by interval rather than figure out the next note.
- harmonic intervals (those played at the same time in a chord) didn't occur in my music, but I suspect I read more by interval than by all notes in that case
- in one instance there were a lot of repeated Fs interspersed by leaps up to Bb, C and D. I had originally thought I would read over the Fs and see the seconds or thirds between the other notes, but I didn't unless I focused on that. Perhaps this is a deficiency on my reading by not chunking enough, but I don't have issues in treble or bass clefs in reading a similar passage.
- when there was a flat to be played, my hand instinctively knew where to go based on where it was on the keyboard. I wasn't sure before if I played Flats/sharps based on note name or keyboard geography, and this confirmed the latter.


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Re: Reading Intervallically [Re: Arghhh] #2596384 12/20/16 03:28 AM
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I am utterly confused by your post. Can you clarify one idea at a time?? And maybe give an example of what you are talking about?


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Re: Reading Intervallically [Re: Arghhh] #2596416 12/20/16 08:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Arghhh
On melodic intervals I really only feel comfortable reading seconds and thirds. Any intervals larger than that I had to force myself to read by interval rather than figure out the next note.

For a long time, I oriented myself just using the 5ths on the staff that my hands were sitting. Visually - the 3 lines or spaces that each hand was sitting on. The visual pattern made it easy to look all the way down to the end of a piece (or to the next line) and quickly see if I needed to switch positions in either hand.

It's a natural mid-way interval, so it also helped me become familiar with the smaller and larger intervals fairly quickly. It's also a natural way into reading chords (though my teacher had me drill the inversion patterns as well).

Over time the underlying details resolved themselves, so now when I read music, I see/feel my hands jumping to and walking the notes on the staff - not just jumping and playing 5ths but all the different intervals and note patterns.


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Re: Reading Intervallically [Re: Arghhh] #2596423 12/20/16 08:49 AM
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This is interesting to me because I am trying to teach myself to read intervallically. I already read music in what I think is a reasonable speed, but I've heard so many descriptions of the benefits of reading intervallically here that I think learning it might improve my reading even more.

I'm using an edition of Bach Chorales scored with C clefs in open score. Currently playing one line at a time. When I finish the book I'll go back and try it two lines at a time, and then the third time through three lines, etc.

I find I only know where to put the accidentals in from the key signature by note name identification: that is, say I see one accidental in the key signature. When I get to an F(#) in the score, I don't identify it as an F# by name in the staff, but my hand in the piano knows it's coming to an F and therefore my head knows I need to add the sharp.

Now reading Arghh's post I see that there is a further and probably better way: to just feel the shape of the tonality and play the sharp by feel instead of by mentally remembering. But I don't know what to do to get there. Something for me to pay attention to.

I also have difficulty with intervals larger than thirds, but Groove On's method of seeing the three lines or spaces of a fifth may help me there.

Hmmm, in looking st this post I'm reminded that I really want to learn to read intervallically in hopes that it will speed up my reading of chords, and my Bach Chorales won't help with that. But I'll continue with them because I hope having an underlying ability to read melodies intervallically can help me for when I find some appropriate practice material for reading chords intervallically.


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Re: Reading Intervallically [Re: AZNpiano] #2596466 12/20/16 11:11 AM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
I am utterly confused by your post. Can you clarify one idea at a time?? And maybe give an example of what you are talking about?

I think they are saying that instead of actually learning the notes on the tenor clef, they try to figure out the next note by reading the interval instead. But, when they go from one line to the next, they have a hard time reading the interval because the notes are not printed next to each other. So, instead of just learning the notes, they are analyzing the death out of circumventing the actual problem.

Reading intervals is COMPLETELY NECESSARY if you are transposing on the fly, but regarding reading the actual notes, LEARN THE NOTES. smile

Just think, in the Baroque era, they didn't use ledger lines; they just moved the C-clef around however they needed to.


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Re: Reading Intervallically [Re: Arghhh] #2596485 12/20/16 11:59 AM
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Isn't there a one-to-one correspondence between notes on the page and keys on the piano?

I'm not understanding this topic at all.


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Re: Reading Intervallically [Re: TimR] #2596501 12/20/16 12:43 PM
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Originally Posted by TimR
Isn't there a one-to-one correspondence between notes on the page and keys on the piano?

Yes, but this person brought up tenor clef (a moveable clef where "middle C" is moved around), so while "middle C" is always middle C on the piano, it can be read in different ways depending on the clef.

Since this person doesn't have a fluent understanding of reading tenor clef, they are reading intervals instead of notes, and decided to analyze everything regarding their way note reading because they have never needed to think about it before.


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Re: Reading Intervallically [Re: SonatainfSharp] #2596508 12/20/16 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by SonatainfSharp
Originally Posted by TimR
Isn't there a one-to-one correspondence between notes on the page and keys on the piano?

Yes, but this person brought up tenor clef (a moveable clef where "middle C" is moved around), so while "middle C" is always middle C on the piano, it can be read in different ways depending on the clef.



Our brains aren't all wired identically, and what works for me may not work for the OP.

I do read multiple clefs, and if I have to refresh myself on one that is not as familiar then I'll use anchor notes until I get back to the one-to-one correspondence.

My preference would be that the intervallic reading be a short term crutch until the correspondence is established, because it's an extra layer of CPU processing that will slow down what should become reflexive.

But again depending on how you're wired, that strategy might not be easily available.

If you don't have to deal with clefs, different story.

Last edited by TimR; 12/20/16 01:14 PM.

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Re: Reading Intervallically [Re: AZNpiano] #2596637 12/20/16 06:32 PM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
I am utterly confused by your post. Can you clarify one idea at a time?? And maybe give an example of what you are talking about?

I'm equally confused.

I see "interval" used for a wide variety of concepts.

For me "interval" is simply the distance from note or key to the next, whether they are played at the same time (harmonically) or one by one (melodically).

In music the concept I teach is that you don't have to know the name or absolute placement of note #2 if you know where note #1 belongs. Obviously to make this work you have to start with only the notes that we know of as white keys on the piano.

That's the start. All the interval practice in the world will fall flat with key signatures, which makes the whole think vastly more complicated.

Re: Reading Intervallically [Re: TimR] #2596642 12/20/16 06:39 PM
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Originally Posted by TimR

Our brains aren't all wired identically, and what works for me may not work for the OP.

I do read multiple clefs, and if I have to refresh myself on one that is not as familiar then I'll use anchor notes until I get back to the one-to-one correspondence.

My preference would be that the intervallic reading be a short term crutch until the correspondence is established, because it's an extra layer of CPU processing that will slow down what should become reflexive.

At first, when using a new clef, I have to translate. An example would be tenor clef which is a must for us lower brass players.

I had to look it up:
Quote

ten·or clef
clef; plural noun: tenor clefs

a clef placing middle C on the second-highest line of the stave, used chiefly for cello and bassoon music.

That's not how I process it. I read it exactly like trumpet music, which is now euphonium in treble clef is written. That transposition for me is close to instant, and I'm not even aware of transposing.

I simply read tenor clef the same way but keep the key signature.

For French horn all notes are in two places at the same time, one for where they are written, the other for the pitch.

That's how my brain is wired. When I see a C, for me it is an F, and if I think C, in any way, I'm off a 5th.

The only reason I don't transpose all instruments equally quickly is that I have no had to. I don't normally deal with instruments in A, for instance. A clarinet is hard for me. Horn other than in F is hard. And so on.

Re: Reading Intervallically [Re: AZNpiano] #2596705 12/20/16 09:03 PM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
I am utterly confused by your post. Can you clarify one idea at a time?? And maybe give an example of what you are talking about?


For me reading intervallically means: identifying the first note, and then reading the next notes by how far up or down they go from there. If there is a melody going C-D-F on the staff, Read C, and then play a step/2nd up to get to D, and a skip/3rd up to get to E.

Let me rephrase into a more direct question.

How do you read music and how do you teach reading music? I know at one point you started teaching reading by interval (steps, skips, etc.) and have stated that your students now read music better than before.

How do you handle reading from one line to the next? A lot of my students do fine on the line they are on, but then going to the next line they have to figure out where the note is on the piano and what finger will be playing it.

A lot of my students also fail at putting flats and sharps into their sight reading. How do you teach this, and do you process the information the same way that you teach it.



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Re: Reading Intervallically [Re: Arghhh] #2596740 12/21/16 01:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Arghhh
How do you read music and how do you teach reading music? I know at one point you started teaching reading by interval (steps, skips, etc.) and have stated that your students now read music better than before.

That is true. My three prime candidates for intervallic reading are now sight reading extremely well. A fourth student can sight read well, but since he doesn't practice, sight reading is all he does.

Originally Posted by Arghhh
How do you handle reading from one line to the next? A lot of my students do fine on the line they are on, but then going to the next line they have to figure out where the note is on the piano and what finger will be playing it.

You don't! You're not supposed to read intervallically from one line to the next. That's why most method books write out the first finger number of each hand for every system. It's sort of cheating, because at least once a line the student is forced to read a finger number. You could theoretically white out that number and make the student read one note per line.

Originally Posted by Arghhh
A lot of my students also fail at putting flats and sharps into their sight reading. How do you teach this, and do you process the information the same way that you teach it.

This question is not related to intervallic reading, so it probably should go to a different thread.


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Re: Reading Intervallically [Re: PianoStudent88] #2596747 12/21/16 03:04 AM
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Originally Posted by PianoStudent88


I find I only know where to put the accidentals in from the key signature by note name identification: that is, say I see one accidental in the key signature. When I get to an F(#) in the score, I don't identify it as an F# by name in the staff, but my hand in the piano knows it's coming to an F and therefore my head knows I need to add the sharp.

Now reading Arghh's post I see that there is a further and probably better way: to just feel the shape of the tonality and play the sharp by feel instead of by mentally remembering. But I don't know what to do to get there. Something for me to pay attention to.

What you're doing isn't too far off from what I'm doing, I don't think. If my hands automatically go there, it is from a lot of playing and not by specific practice.


Originally Posted by PianoStudent88
I also have difficulty with intervals larger than thirds, but Groove On's method of seeing the three lines or spaces of a fifth may help me there.

I thought it was interesting that Groove On started with fifths.

What I say to my students is that a line to a line skipping a line is a fifth (or a space to a space skipping a space). If playing in the 5-finger position (ie. C-D-E-F-G with fingers 1-2-3-4-5) that automatically means playing from finger 1 to finger 5, or vice versa. I just don't see it that way in my own playing unless the two notes are played together.


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Re: Reading Intervallically [Re: Gary D.] #2596748 12/21/16 03:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Gary D.

In music the concept I teach is that you don't have to know the name or absolute placement of note #2 if you know where note #1 belongs. Obviously to make this work you have to start with only the notes that we know of as white keys on the piano.

That's the start. All the interval practice in the world will fall flat with key signatures, which makes the whole think vastly more complicated.


This sounds like what I'm teaching as well. It looks like you and AZN concur that intervallic reading and playing key signatures are unrelated and a different process is involved.


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Re: Reading Intervallically [Re: Arghhh] #2596752 12/21/16 03:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Arghhh
Originally Posted by Gary D.

In music the concept I teach is that you don't have to know the name or absolute placement of note #2 if you know where note #1 belongs. Obviously to make this work you have to start with only the notes that we know of as white keys on the piano.

That's the start. All the interval practice in the world will fall flat with key signatures, which makes the whole think vastly more complicated.


This sounds like what I'm teaching as well. It looks like you and AZN concur that intervallic reading and playing key signatures are unrelated and a different process is involved.

Absolutely.

If I see a 5th, for example, I see a two lines with a line skipped, or two spaces with a space skipped. But I have no idea if either of those notes will be "black", meaning indicating a black key, or if either will be a white sharp/flat without more information.

This means that line 1 and 3 in the treble clef may be E B, Eb Bb, E# B#, and so on. If a 5th of that sort occurs later in a long measure, it may be Eb B, E B#, and so on. Just when you think you have thought up something so weird that no decent composer would use it, suddenly it is there.

As Tim mentioned, if you are in something like tenor clef, those same lines are no longer E B. In fact, that first line can be any letter, theoretically, since any line or space can be set to C, and that means everything else is moved.

There is a problem with key signatures that I run into with people who know every link between lines and spaces to keys but don't know the letters of the keys. This means, for example, that in the key of G they may or may not have mapped out which keys are "moved", since sharps and flats are indications to adjust to the left or right.

This doesn't mean that there has to be a name. If someone knows that an F# in the key signature is moving every F to the right, to the adjacent black note, there may simply be a picture of that key in the mind, where it is everywhere on the keyboard.

Then as you are reading music, using any clef, you simply need to know what spots on the page are showing Fs, whatever you call them, and that they need to be moved.

The whole idea of using intervals to read faster is more than a mystery to me, because I have always been a lightning fast reader. When I look at notes on a page, I feel the keys mentally and have a picture of the whole thing. There are times when I can't name intervals until way after I've played something. For an example, I was just looking at a moving LH part in a Chopin prelude, A F# alternating with E# D, reading up. Looking at the letters I would say immediately that it is a 6th alternating with a 7th. In fact, by sound those are alternating major 6ths. But when looking at the score, I clearly see F and D because I am seeing the keys and the colors, not names. I am not seeing circles, or letters, or anything like that. I see my LH pushing down those keys, and that's way faster than naming anything or analyzing.

Last edited by Gary D.; 12/21/16 03:34 AM.
Re: Reading Intervallically [Re: Gary D.] #2596928 12/21/16 05:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
colors


?


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Re: Reading Intervallically [Re: Whizbang] #2596946 12/21/16 06:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Whizbang
Originally Posted by Gary D.
colors
?

It would be helpful to see more context quoted than a single word taken from a long post.
Given that the post refers to black and white keys, I can assume that "colours" refers to this.

Re: Reading Intervallically [Re: Gary D.] #2596948 12/21/16 06:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
The whole idea of using intervals to read faster is more than a mystery to me, because I have always been a lightning fast reader. When I look at notes on a page, I feel the keys mentally and have a picture of the whole thing. There are times when I can't name intervals until way after I've played something. For an example, I was just looking at a moving LH part in a Chopin prelude, A F# alternating with E# D, reading up. Looking at the letters I would say immediately that it is a 6th alternating with a 7th. In fact, by sound those are alternating major 6ths. But when looking at the score, I clearly see F and D because I am seeing the keys and the colors, not names. I am not seeing circles, or letters, or anything like that. I see my LH pushing down those keys, and that's way faster than naming anything or analyzing.

"Colors" in context. (Bold added by me.)


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Re: Reading Intervallically [Re: Arghhh] #2596981 12/21/16 08:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Arghhh
This sounds like what I'm teaching as well. It looks like you and AZN concur that intervallic reading and playing key signatures are unrelated and a different process is involved.

I don't know what Gary teaches, but for me key signatures (or keys) are a different concept altogether.

Intervallic reading, at least the way I use it, involves the recognition of spatial distances on the page and on the keyboard (white keys only). It should be taught gradually up to include 6th, 7th, and octave. And it should also be taught in conjunction with landmark notes.


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Re: Reading Intervallically [Re: AZNpiano] #2597033 12/22/16 03:15 AM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano

I don't know what Gary teaches, but for me key signatures (or keys) are a different concept altogether.

Intervallic reading, at least the way I use it, involves the recognition of spatial distances on the page and on the keyboard (white keys only). It should be taught gradually up to include 6th, 7th, and octave. And it should also be taught in conjunction with landmark notes.

Essentially the same thing, but with the clear understanding that the spacing on the page and the spacing on the keyboard may conflict, and always go with the keyboard when in doubt...


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