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Parents looking for advice #2851418
05/23/19 10:05 AM
05/23/19 10:05 AM
Joined: May 2019
Posts: 6
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Luy-pie Offline OP
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My son first enrolled in Yamaha group lesson when he was 5. He loved it. He liked cute songs, dance, and dvds. There was no or very little pressure for practice and he was fine. It was a 2 year program. By the end of 2 year, he no longer liked the cute dance and songs. To be fair, he was the only boy left in the class and we noticed people were leaving. Once he finished the course, he didn’t want to continue and that was fine.

I am his piano teacher now. He has soccer, swimming, karate, hockey and math tutoring going on and he plays soccer 5 days a week. I want to have some flexibility with piano. A bit of my background - I completed two years of university with piano major and transféred to another program, as I no longer wanted to pursue piano as a career. I was a serious student and won several competitions at high school. I never taught a beginner, but was a practice teacher for serious students (mostly grade 6-12) under the same teacher.

When I first took over last summer, I realized he doesn’t read notes. They taught him to play by singing in solfage and listening to music. I wasn’t familiar with this method, but he was playing Star Wars music by ear himself and I thought this can’t be that bad. I put him to piano adventure level 1 and then just taught him the way he was taught. Then half way through, I realized it was way too slow and I wasn’t sure if he was going to make any progress this way. So I ditched this and went back to note reading. It’s been a frustrating year, but anyway he can now read notes now. Since then, he could do one new piece every day and mastered it on the same day. He just finished the level 1 book and started 2a. I looked through it and felt this is very theory based with little emphasis on techniques. So I am starting him on Czerny op.599.

He is 7 now and practices about 30 min - 45 min about 3 times a week. He needs about 1-2 weeks to master one Czerny piece. Since Czerny looks overwhelming for him, I let him do right hand, left hand, and together by 4 -8 measure a day. For his piano adventure pieces, he can play many songs by sight and some will require separate hands. My mom, a retired violinist/music faculty member at local university, believes I am spoon-feeding him. My mom plays piano fine, but she doesn’t teach beginners either, so I am not sure how credible she is.

Is doing 4-8 measures at a time considered acceptable at this level? Or should I do the whole piece by right hand, left hand, and then together? I think he can play whole right hand by himself, if I ask him to. Or should I wait until he can play the whole piece by himself? I sit with him and help him practice. Should I let him practice on his own? Is his practice time enough?

Although he’s doing piano adventure 2a, he’s been playing piano for 3 years and can replay songs he hear with both hands, probably at higher level than 2a. Do you think I can start him on easy classical piece, such as Bach Minuet? My gut says he can move into “real pieces” and may develop faster that way. I love how Piano Adventure is teaching theory, but it’s too slow and easy.

I appreciate your feedback. Thank you!




Last edited by Luy-pie; 05/23/19 10:07 AM.
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Re: Parents looking for advice [Re: Luy-pie] #2851424
05/23/19 10:18 AM
05/23/19 10:18 AM
Joined: Mar 2018
Posts: 272
Texas
Dr. Rogers Offline
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From what you posted, it sounds like he's doing fairly well. Overscheduling is the only significant red flag I see here. I'm sure you realize that all those other extracurricular activities aren't all that helpful when it comes to piano. If he were my student I would probably recommend shorter daily practice sessions rather than longer sessions fewer times a week.

You might try introducing an easy classical piece, such as the infamous Bach/Petzold Minuet in G, see how he handles it. There wouldn't be any harm in trying.

How did you get a seven year old to do Czerny?

How is his technique - hand position, phrasing, dynamic control, etc.?

Do you have any piano teacher friends you could consult with? Faculty members with who you have maintained contact? Although it sounds like you have everything under control, teaching beginners can be quite a challenge.

Ultimately, you know your son better than any of us do. You should probably trust your instincts as a parent and a pianist.

(As an aside, I would personally take the Piano Adventures books and burn them, but I know I'm in a minority here when it comes to choice of instructional material.)


Austin Rogers, PhD
Music Teacher in Austin, TX
Baldwin SD-10 Concert Grand "Kuroneko", Baldwin Upright, Yamaha P-255
Re: Parents looking for advice [Re: Luy-pie] #2851426
05/23/19 10:23 AM
05/23/19 10:23 AM
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 8,113
Orange County, CA
AZNpiano Online happy
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Hi, welcome to PW.

What you describe about the kiddie program is 100% the horror that I face on a daily basis. Kids would come to me after one or two years in that program and haven't learned a slick of reading. Transitioning them back to the traditional reading program can get tough for some kids.

Please do not use Czerny. It's awful.

I would suggest that you take your son back down to some pre-staff music and get him to read directionally, and to solidify his understanding of rhythm and fingering. I know for sure the kiddie program doesn't teach fingering--or their concept of fingering is GLUED to the middle C position, so that the D MUST MUST MUST be played with a 2.

Then, use Piano Adventures (or any other modern piano method) to teach him intervallic reading. This doesn't happen overnight. It takes a lot of time and patience to get him to read by intervals. And you'll know if he is doing it correctly if he can transpose simple tunes in other keys (for example, take a C Major piece up to G Major).

Intervallic reading is paired up with Landmark approach, which students are given one line or space to memorize at a time. It will take about a year to work its way across the grand staff. But by then the reading is solid, and kids play with confidence and musicality.


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Re: Parents looking for advice [Re: Dr. Rogers] #2851431
05/23/19 10:40 AM
05/23/19 10:40 AM
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 8,113
Orange County, CA
AZNpiano Online happy
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Originally Posted by Dr. Rogers
How did you get a seven year old to do Czerny?

FWIW, lots of people on this planet subscribe to Czerny 599. I have gotten one transfer student whose teacher uses that tome as his "method." I feel sorry for his students.

I also grew up on Czerny 599, but that's after I used Beyer 101 and a host of other modern methods, including John Thompson.

I think the crux of the problem here is the approach to teaching note reading. The old way of force-feeding letter names (or solfege) is very unhealthy, and can lead to all sorts of problems later on, like slow progress, slow sight reading, and slow learning. Also, kids like this tend to play in the wrong octave, as they have little or no reference to intervals.

Intervallic reading is something that takes time and effort to cultivate. But once that's in place, piano is actually easy. Sometimes I wonder why I'm getting paid, because the lessons move along so smoothly--I barely have to do anything.


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Re: Parents looking for advice [Re: Luy-pie] #2851443
05/23/19 11:13 AM
05/23/19 11:13 AM
Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 16,841
Boynton Beach, FL
Morodiene Offline
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I've got a few questions/comments:

Is there some reason you are choosing to teach him rather than have him study with an experienced teacher? I think knowing how to play piano and knowing how to teach are two different things that have some overlap, obviously, but when you want to fix your car, you don't call the racecar driver (forgive the terrible analogy LOL).

Practicing 3 days a week is not enough practice for anyone wanting to learn piano. We lose most of what we learn after 24 hours if it is not reviewed, and this is why daily practice - even if it's 10 minutes - if better than nothing. However, if that's the norm there will be issues.

Like Dr. Rogers said, it is concerning that your 7-year old son is involved in soccer, swimming, karate, hockey and math tutoring. Obviously, math is important. The other things can be too, but all of them add up to a tired boy that doesn't have enough time to just be a kid. I recommend having no more than 3 extracurricular activities, and if he does piano, keep in mind that for him to make decent progress and feel good about his playing, he needs to play 5 days per week minimum, and not to skip 2 days in a row. 6 or 7 is ideal and he will feel the best about his playing.

Knowing what this entails, have a talk with your son about what he would like to do the most and work from there. Let him know what kind of time is involved in piano, and see if he wants to give it a try. Then find a good teacher to work with him.

Last edited by Morodiene; 05/23/19 11:14 AM.

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Re: Parents looking for advice [Re: Luy-pie] #2851454
05/23/19 11:49 AM
05/23/19 11:49 AM
Joined: Oct 2008
Posts: 184
West Australia
Lostinidlewonder Offline
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Originally Posted by Luy-pie

So I am starting him on Czerny op.599.....
Do you think I can start him on easy classical piece, such as Bach Minuet?

I think of key importance is what music he is studying. Does he have any specific music that he personally likes, perhaps from video games, movies, radio, internet? I haven't met many youngsters who naturally gravitates to Czerny or Bach. There is so much repetoire out there and so many different places where music can inspire. Perhaps get a list of his personal favorite pieces he has played over the years, this may give a good idea what style he likes and you should aim to do more of that type. With his reading skills you need to get him to do many smaller pieces which can be started and finished in quick time, this will build reading skills much faster than simply learning pieces which challenge him and take weeks. It is not unusual for sight reading students of mine to do 100+ pieces a month, perhaps don't overwhelm him with that amount to start with but certainly introduce the idea of reading pieces from start to finish in quick time and build on that.


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Re: Parents looking for advice [Re: Luy-pie] #2851467
05/23/19 12:18 PM
05/23/19 12:18 PM
Joined: May 2013
Posts: 2,579
Florida
cmb13 Offline
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As parent, I agree that "piano, soccer, swimming, karate, hockey and math tutoring going on and he plays soccer 5 days a week" sounds like an awful lot of activities. It's great to introduce a child to variety of activities, but if those are all organized activities, it's just too much. Unless, of course, the sports are by season (eg swimming in summer, soccer in fall, hockey in winter), in which case cross training for athletes can be beneficial.


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Re: Parents looking for advice [Re: AZNpiano] #2851507
05/23/19 02:24 PM
05/23/19 02:24 PM
Joined: May 2019
Posts: 6
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Luy-pie Offline OP
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Thank you for your feedback. It has been a frustrating year. But finally he’s reading notes. I think he’s reading by steps and skips. If he can’t connect the step/skips, he finds c and then go from there. Is this intervallic reading?

I grew up with Czerny and Bach. They are beautiful and build basic techniques. I don’t plan on doing every single piece and will focus on the ones that he can benefit from. He’s done about 4 pieces so far and oh I see huge improvement in his fingering and speed. I love how Bach develops music ear, getting him ready for more complex music. I still play Bach to warmup my fingers and tease out my ear.

He’s doing Piano Adventures, and I plan to use it, so he doesn’t have any holes in theory. Theory is my weakness. He enjoys John Williams and Hans Zimmer. I taught him Star Wars by John Williams by rote, and he sort of memorized them. Now he likes Pokémon. I will try to get a sheet music for him.

Re: Parents looking for advice [Re: cmb13] #2851511
05/23/19 02:42 PM
05/23/19 02:42 PM
Joined: May 2019
Posts: 6
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Luy-pie Offline OP
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Luy-pie  Offline OP
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I realize he's doing too much. I plan to talk with him and see if we can do hockey/soccer seasonally. We need to prioritize.… That will probably free up some time. Thank you!

Re: Parents looking for advice [Re: Luy-pie] #2851512
05/23/19 02:51 PM
05/23/19 02:51 PM
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 8,113
Orange County, CA
AZNpiano Online happy
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Originally Posted by Luy-pie
Thank you for your feedback. It has been a frustrating year. But finally he’s reading notes. I think he’s reading by steps and skips. If he can’t connect the step/skips, he finds c and then go from there. Is this intervallic reading?

No.

Intervallic reading covers 2nd, 3rd all the way up to an octave. It's really about recognizing the shape and the angle of the notes on the printed page.

Try asking him to transpose a simple 5-finger piece by sight.


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Re: Parents looking for advice [Re: Luy-pie] #2851619
05/23/19 11:27 PM
05/23/19 11:27 PM
Joined: Oct 2008
Posts: 184
West Australia
Lostinidlewonder Offline
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No one can really tell you your son is doing too many activities as each person is individual, you of course are the best judge in this case. I teach some kids who do even more and they thrive and others who of course feel over worked, but each to their own.

Originally Posted by Luy-pie
Thank you for your feedback. It has been a frustrating year. But finally he’s reading notes. I think he’s reading by steps and skips. If he can’t connect the step/skips, he finds c and then go from there. Is this intervallic reading?

Building reading skills happens in stages so even though reading from c when unable to attach the notes to its neighbouring ones and derive them is inefficient it is not forbidden. Actually knowing the multiple locations of c that is middle c in both clefs, octave above that in trebel and octave below in bass, and also the 2 octave above ledger in trebel and 2 octave below in bass are excellent markers for determining approximately where notes being read are on the keyboard, they can be used as bounds for estimate where particular notes will fall. An exercise I do for reading estimation with my students is to ask them approximately where particular notes are by using these c bounds.

He should of course become familiar with all line and space notes on the stave, some of my students simply memorise the space notes and adjust up and down one for the lines, this is fine, at least if your son memorises at least where all the Cs are and the space notes this gives many points he can solve the notes from.

Doing some exercises with chords reading is helpful to train his intervals and pattern recognition as well as seeing how one chord may change from the other eg if a progression goes CEG to CFA we would say something like the top two notes go up and the bottom stays where it is, this can be highlighted with arrows showing the directional movement and a solid line showing stagnant points commenting both chords. Draw the shape that these chords produce at the keyboard for example minor root triad may look like a triangle shape, these visualisations can be included in the sheet music to guide his reading.


Originally Posted by Luy-pie

He’s doing Piano Adventures, and I plan to use it, so he doesn’t have any holes in theory. Theory is my weakness. He enjoys John Williams and Hans Zimmer. I taught him Star Wars by John Williams by rote, and he sort of memorized them. Now he likes Pokémon. I will try to get a sheet music for him.

Lots of fan sheet music out there, I have kids who love minecraft and we do lots of the music from there. It does however require that I simplify the music for some of them but if they love it it is great material to use, it excites and encourages them to work hard alone.

Last edited by Lostinidlewonder; 05/23/19 11:32 PM.

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Re: Parents looking for advice [Re: AZNpiano] #2851623
05/24/19 12:07 AM
05/24/19 12:07 AM
Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 16,930
Canada
keystring Offline
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by Luy-pie
Thank you for your feedback. It has been a frustrating year. But finally he’s reading notes. I think he’s reading by steps and skips. If he can’t connect the step/skips, he finds c and then go from there. Is this intervallic reading?

No.

Intervallic reading covers 2nd, 3rd all the way up to an octave. It's really about recognizing the shape and the angle of the notes on the printed page.

Try asking him to transpose a simple 5-finger piece by sight.

Adding a bit about the intervallic part:
- If you see a note on a line, and note on the next space right above it, that is a 2nd. Ditto for a note on a line and one on the next space. It has a visual component. It's like when you look at dice, and instantly see the shape of the dots as a number of dots. You don't actually count the dots. The counterpart on the piano for white keys (the notes you get in C major) is they will be two piano keys touching each other.

- If you see a note on a line, and a note on the next line, that is a third: ditto for space and next space. On the piano you have a key, skip a key, and the next key. CE for example since I can't show it on an actual piano

- A 5th is easy to see, because the two notes will be on two lines or two spaces, with a line or space in between.

It is like recognizing the dots on dice, instead of counting the dots on the dice (instead of counting up note by note, or 1, 2, 3, 4 ... or C, D, E, F, G, A aha it's A ... all of that labourious). You recognize your "3" in the notes as a picture, and the "3" on the piano as another kind of picture, to make it more instant.

In reading you'll probably use more than one device, and this is one of them.

(Just expanding. AZN, please correct anything or elaborate or shrink. wink )

Re: Parents looking for advice [Re: AZNpiano] #2851625
05/24/19 12:14 AM
05/24/19 12:14 AM
Joined: Apr 2018
Posts: 4,896
Tyrone Slothrop Online content
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Intervallic reading covers 2nd, 3rd all the way up to an octave. It's really about recognizing the shape and the angle of the notes on the printed page.

As a piano student, this sentence just gave me an "aha moment"!

Wow. Going to Amazon.com and see if I can find any material on recognizing note shapes/angles!

EDIT: Let me add that I am already learning and practicing intervallic reading, but I did not previously think of it as recognizing note shapes & angles. This, specifically, is the "aha" moment referred to above. (I've been thinking of it as counting lines and spaces in melodic intervals.)


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Re: Parents looking for advice [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2851627
05/24/19 12:28 AM
05/24/19 12:28 AM
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 8,113
Orange County, CA
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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Wow. Going to Amazon.com and see if I can find any material on recognizing note shapes/angles!

Let me know if you find anything.

Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
EDIT: Let me add that I am already learning and practicing intervallic reading, but I did not previously think of it as recognizing note shapes & angles. This, specifically, is the "aha" moment referred to above. (I've been thinking of it as counting lines and spaces in melodic intervals.)

Hmm....that's your piano teacher's fault. You should have been informed.

All printed music have the angles and shapes more or less "standardized." You occasionally will have an editor who will bend a certain angle just to conserve paper. But most of the 4ths on the page will look a certain way.

This also explains why it is more challenging to play from a hand-written score. Because all the angles and shapes are messed up.


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Re: Parents looking for advice [Re: keystring] #2851628
05/24/19 12:37 AM
05/24/19 12:37 AM
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 8,113
Orange County, CA
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Originally Posted by keystring
(Just expanding. AZN, please correct anything or elaborate or shrink. wink )

Nothing to add, really.

But for people who grew up with Czerny, this intervallic reading thing is a whole new animal. I certainly had to teach myself to read intervallically, and that happened about the 5th year into my piano teaching, and I didn't embrace the idea initially. Many method book series now embrace the idea. It really works.


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Re: Parents looking for advice [Re: AZNpiano] #2851630
05/24/19 01:30 AM
05/24/19 01:30 AM
Joined: Apr 2018
Posts: 4,896
Tyrone Slothrop Online content
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Wow. Going to Amazon.com and see if I can find any material on recognizing note shapes/angles!

Let me know if you find anything.

I found this series of three books and the description talks about "patterns in music," which could be referring to shapes. Unfortunately, I can't find any example pages of the book online. Since Book 1 is only about $6, I've gone ahead and ordered and will see for myself if it uses shapes to teach intervallic reading.


across the stone, deathless piano performances

"Discipline is more reliable than motivation." -by a contributor on Reddit r/piano
"Success is 10% inspiration, and 90% perspiration." -by some other wise person
"Pianoteq manages to keep it all together yet simultaneously also go in all directions; like a quantum particle entangled with an unknown and spooky parallel universe simply waiting to be discovered." -by Pete14
Re: Parents looking for advice [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2851635
05/24/19 02:19 AM
05/24/19 02:19 AM
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 8,113
Orange County, CA
AZNpiano Online happy
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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
I found this series of three books and the description talks about "patterns in music," which could be referring to shapes. Unfortunately, I can't find any example pages of the book online. Since Book 1 is only about $6, I've gone ahead and ordered and will see for myself if it uses shapes to teach intervallic reading.

Nope, you won't find shapes there. I mean, you will see shapes among the notes, but the instructions in the book do not overtly state HEY LOOK AT THESE SHAPES!!

But some of their music is catchy.


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Re: Parents looking for advice [Re: AZNpiano] #2851694
05/24/19 08:41 AM
05/24/19 08:41 AM
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Boynton Beach, FL
Morodiene Offline
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Wow. Going to Amazon.com and see if I can find any material on recognizing note shapes/angles!

Let me know if you find anything.

Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
EDIT: Let me add that I am already learning and practicing intervallic reading, but I did not previously think of it as recognizing note shapes & angles. This, specifically, is the "aha" moment referred to above. (I've been thinking of it as counting lines and spaces in melodic intervals.)

Hmm....that's your piano teacher's fault. You should have been informed.

All printed music have the angles and shapes more or less "standardized." You occasionally will have an editor who will bend a certain angle just to conserve paper. But most of the 4ths on the page will look a certain way.

This also explains why it is more challenging to play from a hand-written score. Because all the angles and shapes are messed up.

Not everyone thinks in terms of angles. I never do, and I'm still trying to understand what you mean. FWIW, I'm terrible at geometry. laugh


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Re: Parents looking for advice [Re: Luy-pie] #2851720
05/24/19 09:39 AM
05/24/19 09:39 AM
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Angles: what I understand by that is this: think of a melodic interval. Imagine you’re going up (or down) a hill to get from the first note to the second note. The larger the interval, the steeper the hill.


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Re: Parents looking for advice [Re: Morodiene] #2851721
05/24/19 09:42 AM
05/24/19 09:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Morodiene
Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Wow. Going to Amazon.com and see if I can find any material on recognizing note shapes/angles!

Let me know if you find anything.

Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
EDIT: Let me add that I am already learning and practicing intervallic reading, but I did not previously think of it as recognizing note shapes & angles. This, specifically, is the "aha" moment referred to above. (I've been thinking of it as counting lines and spaces in melodic intervals.)

Hmm....that's your piano teacher's fault. You should have been informed.

All printed music have the angles and shapes more or less "standardized." You occasionally will have an editor who will bend a certain angle just to conserve paper. But most of the 4ths on the page will look a certain way.

This also explains why it is more challenging to play from a hand-written score. Because all the angles and shapes are messed up.

Not everyone thinks in terms of angles. I never do, and I'm still trying to understand what you mean. FWIW, I'm terrible at geometry. laugh

I was puzzled at first, too, but perhaps angles refer to broken chords or, more generallly, a series of notes as you move through a measure(s)? Large intervals would have a "steeper" angle and small intervals would be only a gentle incline.


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