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#3087573 02/28/21 12:57 AM
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I'm making this post for two reasons. Firstly does anybody use this site? https://tonesavvy.com/music-practice-exercise/1/note-name-sight-reading-grand-staff-game/
I found this gem under piano resources in the pinned thread "Important topics on the adult beginner forum" thread. There are other tools there too for interval training and more.

Secondly after looking at the ledger line scales on the grand staff I noticed that the Lines above the treble and below the bass spell ACE across the first three lines. Treble spelled forwards and bass spelled backwards. The ledger lines between the staffs spell CAF below the treble and CEG above the bass. Since I started using this I have cut my average time in half (4 seconds avg) and reduced mistakes by about 80 %. I'm a total newbie to this too so while 4 seconds is an eon in music I will get better with practice. I was even doing this on my phone at the diner lol. (So I might be a little obsessed.)
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Do you all have any tricks for sight reading? I'm okay within the staffs, but the ledger lines were giving me trouble. This little discovery has helped a huge amount.

Last edited by Bob A; 02/28/21 01:00 AM.

"An amateur practices until they get it right. A professional practices until they can't get it wrong." Julie Andrews

"Music is not a add hot water and stir kind of thing. You have to practice." Mr. Katz my junior HS music director (He was a cool guy)
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Bob A #3087622 02/28/21 09:16 AM
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Hi Bob,

The only tip I have is don't use the word "sight" reading here, otherwise it will lead into yet another endless rabbit hole that goes nowhere. I keep reading new music to improve my reading efficiency, that's it .. no use of the word "sight" in there. No tips other than to keep doing it and give it time. You'll read ledger lines easily by reading music that uses them. Sure, you can use an app or flash cards to see if you can memorize the notes, but it might easier to read by interval in those sections to start. In time, you'll just know what notes they are. Just keep reading and playing.


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Bob A #3087627 02/28/21 09:33 AM
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Hi Bob
Two of the shortcuts I use:
The treble clef E is the third ledger line. The letter ‘E’ has three horizontal lines
For octaves: if one note is on a space, the other will always be on a line


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
"I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

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Bob A #3087635 02/28/21 10:18 AM
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This may be a bit obvious but the positions of C on the bass clef mirror the positions on the treble clef.

If you think of the black notes as being lines on the bass clef, the first space below the bass clef is the first key to the left of a group of 3 black notes. I find this one quite handy as it’s visual and my brain doesn’t even have to register the fact that it’s an F.


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Originally Posted by bSharp(C)yclist
Hi Bob,

The only tip I have is don't use the word "sight" reading here, otherwise it will lead into yet another endless rabbit hole that goes nowhere. I keep reading new music to improve my reading efficiency, that's it .. no use of the word "sight" in there. No tips other than to keep doing it and give it time. You'll read ledger lines easily by reading music that uses them. Sure, you can use an app or flash cards to see if you can memorize the notes, but it might easier to read by interval in those sections to start. In time, you'll just know what notes they are. Just keep reading and playing.
I figure it will just take time, but I was wondering if there were any tips or tricks to speed up the process. Repetition is the mother of all learning.


"An amateur practices until they get it right. A professional practices until they can't get it wrong." Julie Andrews

"Music is not a add hot water and stir kind of thing. You have to practice." Mr. Katz my junior HS music director (He was a cool guy)
Bob A #3087647 02/28/21 11:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Bob A
Originally Posted by bSharp(C)yclist
Hi Bob,

The only tip I have is don't use the word "sight" reading here, otherwise it will lead into yet another endless rabbit hole that goes nowhere. I keep reading new music to improve my reading efficiency, that's it .. no use of the word "sight" in there. No tips other than to keep doing it and give it time. You'll read ledger lines easily by reading music that uses them. Sure, you can use an app or flash cards to see if you can memorize the notes, but it might easier to read by interval in those sections to start. In time, you'll just know what notes they are. Just keep reading and playing.
I figure it will just take time, but I was wondering if there were any tips or tricks to speed up the process. Repetition is the mother of all learning.


I don't know of anything to speed it up - if you find out, let us know smile I've been reading a regular basis for 5 years now. It's significantly better than when I started. That's my experience. Keep your eyes on the music when you read. In time, you'll be able to process more, look ahead, etc. And it's ok to read something you read before.

What will it be like in 50 years? I can't imagine. I remember having a masterclass years ago at the previous music school i went to. The teacher was playing various pieces from an RCM 4 book and I remember commenting that she makes it look so easy. She chuckled and said, well, I've been doing this for 50 years. That's the answer ... 50 years!


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@bSharp(C)yclist You mean I have to put in work? I was afraid of that. In 50 years I'll be planning my 112th birthday party. You're all invited too. There will be music, dancing and an open bar. LOL

Last edited by Bob A; 02/28/21 11:41 AM.

"An amateur practices until they get it right. A professional practices until they can't get it wrong." Julie Andrews

"Music is not a add hot water and stir kind of thing. You have to practice." Mr. Katz my junior HS music director (He was a cool guy)
Bob A #3087663 02/28/21 11:44 AM
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Read through music (don't discriminate - unlike books, all piano/keyboard music is fair game for reading) for fun like you'd read trashy novels (or these days, more likely trashy stuff in links sent to you by friends & foes on social media) and you'll be surprised how much improvement you make in the space of a few months.

And always remember - reading music consists of 'transferring' notes on staves straight to keys on keyboard.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Bob A #3087744 02/28/21 03:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Bob A
@bSharp(C)yclist You mean I have to put in work? I was afraid of that. In 50 years I'll be planning my 112th birthday party. You're all invited too. There will be music, dancing and an open bar. LOL

I'm afraid so, or at least I had to! I'll be 98 at that party, save me a spot smile


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Your system involves too much thinking for me. I used a music theory app to learn to quickly recognize notes above and below the staff lines and that seemed to work. What helped me most was playing duets on a regular basis, since you’re either playing at the low or high ends of the keyboard, depending on your part. So if you can find music that takes you to those uncharted territories, play those pieces. The other helpful thing to do is to get a good score where you can clearly see the ledger lines and not have to stop and squint. It’s also not against the law to write the name of the note in your score. Once you put your mind to it, it should only take a few months. No need to plan a 112th birthday party!



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For most people, the first note that they learn on a piano is C and within a short time learn 4 other positions of C.

If only the other notes were that easy. It feels like the C took up a huge part of your memory and there's no room for other letters smile

It becomes a lot easier for me when I have more that one way of identifying a note.

The slow way to get the top line of the treble clef is to think 'Every Good Boy Deserves Favours' or the next letter after the last character of 'FACE'.

However, as a beginner, a lot of the music from my method books is in the key of G and I’m used to seeing a single sharp symbol on the top line at the start of a piece. I know that the first note to be sharpened on the circle of fifths is F.

A combination of all of these makes identification fairly quick.

I still however probably have less than 10 reference points that I can instantly recognise.


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Bob A #3087770 02/28/21 03:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Bob A
I'm making this post for two reasons. Firstly does anybody use this site? [url=https://tonesavvy.com/music-practice-exercise/1/note-name-sight-reading-grand-

...

Secondly after looking at the ledger line scales on the grand staff I noticed that the Lines above the treble and below the bass spell ACE across

...

Do you all have any tricks for sight reading? I'm okay within the staffs, but the ledger lines were giving me trouble. This little discovery has helped a huge amount.

Hi Bob,

I've not gone to the link you put up, but the way I've been doing is to first look at the key and scale the music is in. Then I just play the intervals. If you were to ask me what note name it is that I've been playing, I wouldn't know immediately. But I know if a note is on a space above another, it is a 3rd interval above. I don't know if this makes sense to you.

Sometimes, a note is high above the end of the treble clef and I must deal with ledger lines without interval how; like when there's a scale run. In this case, I've got the A and C notes ledger lines memorized, so I know exactly what note the music is asking. (This is kind of the complete opposite of how I deal with the reading just above, using intervals.) Same with a few ledger lines below the bass clef, here, I just memorize the C.

I don't deal with lots of ledger lines below the treble clef or above the bass clef because piano music is normally printed using hte grand staff. I think because I don't deal with them, I have a lot of trouble when playing guitar music (which goes low on the treble clef with ledger lines); I still haven't memorized this area yet (I don't normally play the guitar like that, I usually just strum chords).

So, I don't think memorizing "ACE" or others like "FACE", etc. helps in your case because the translation between the note name (and you'll have to know the octave too) and piano keys is too slow. I'd recommend just getting the hang of intervals.

I'm coming back to the piano after a 40 year break; and I'll also be over 100 after 50 years : )

Bob A #3087846 02/28/21 07:32 PM
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+1 on what bSharp(C)yclist said. No shortcuts, just do it.

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Originally Posted by EP
+1 on what bSharp(C)yclist said. No shortcuts, just do it.

I don’t think that the OP is looking for shortcuts. I wasn’t when I created a similar thread.

I think we're just looking for a few hints on how people memorised a few reference points similar to what dogperson gave.

I’m sure that we'll 'do it' eventually but it would be nice to have a helping hand along the way.

Last edited by treefrog; 02/28/21 07:49 PM.

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Bob A #3087857 02/28/21 08:04 PM
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Just something to think about:
If you are not playing a lot of music with ledger lines, why worry about them now? They can wait until you start seeing them in your music. Only one? Pencil in the note name.

Spend your time now reading music: both to learn the notes on both staves, but to play the rhythms. Lots and lots of music.

Ledger notes will be there later.

No reply needed; just something to think about. 😊


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
"I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

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treefrog #3087858 02/28/21 08:04 PM
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Originally Posted by treefrog
Originally Posted by EP
+1 on what bSharp(C)yclist said. No shortcuts, just do it.

I don’t think that the OP is looking for shortcuts. I wasn’t when I created a similar thread.

I think we're just looking for a few hints on how people memorised a few reference points similar to what dogperson gave.

I’m sure that we'll 'do it' eventually but it would be nice to have a helping hand along the way.

The only thing I ever drew for myself was the following. I found symmetry in that.

I did learn FACE, EGBDF, ACEG, etc way back in school too.

[Linked Image]


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Originally Posted by Bob A
... the ledger lines were giving me trouble.

Well, let me throw this at you.

There are only 3 notes between the Treble and the Bass clef ..... (B,C,D). That is all.

The C is on a line and the B and D are on spaces.

Sometimes the ledger line concept can obscure that and make it look much more complicated than it really is.

If you can understand that, it may help.

If not, .... sorry I brought it up. LOL ...

Good Luck


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Originally Posted by dogperson
Just something to think about:
If you are not playing a lot of music with ledger lines, why worry about them now? They can wait until you start seeing them in your music. Only one? Pencil in the note name.

Spend your time now reading music: both to learn the notes on both staves, but to play the rhythms. Lots and lots of music.

Ledger notes will be there later.

Very wise, indeed.


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Originally Posted by treefrog
I think we're just looking for a few hints on how people memorised a few reference points similar to what dogperson gave.
The best way to learn is by small increments.

No-one ever learnt a new language by trying to learn & memorise 1,000 new words in the first week, unless they had the memory of an elephant (and maybe even if they had). One would start by learning ten, twenty, maybe a hundred new commonly-used words in the first few weeks, with a lot of practising with the same words, adding a few every now and then.

And that's the same way one should learn to read music, which is a much trickier language because it bears no resemblance to any other. (And every note has two 'values' - which key it relates to on the keyboard, and how long it lasts for, which no alphabet in any language has.) Don't even bother with notes above & below the staves (i.e. those on ledger lines), except of course for middle C: if you're actually learning to play pieces that contain notes outside of them, you're jumping much, much too far ahead - a common adult "attribute" (which I call a 'fault', because it slows your learning right down).

By reading (& learning) lots and lots of pieces that contain notes within the commonly-used range of two octaves from the C below middle C to the C above, you reinforce your mental association between notes on staves and keys on keyboard without going through their names, which is something separate (- I keep harping on this issue, because it is important: believe me, if you keep doing this - as some beginners in ABF insist on doing -, you'll never be able to read music fluently, let alone sight-read). You can learn letter names on staves and on keyboard totally separately, away from your piano, if you wish - just use any piece of music for the former and a picture of the keyboard for the latter - but when reading music and playing, concentrate on playing immediately what you're reading.

Use intervals: the note on the first line of the treble clef is a third above middle C, and where your middle finger (3) would be resting on if your hand is in the 5-finger position with thumb on middle C. Similarly, the first note on the line (down from middle C) in bass clef is where your LH 3 would be resting. In other words, you start from middle C and branch out above and below from there. And the note on the second line in treble clef is where your RH 5 would be resting on, ditto for LH. You associate and memorise notes on staves = keys on keyboard little by little using intervals of thirds that way. Notice I never named the notes.

All that is too slow, I hear you say? Well, that's why it is effective.

I know it is, because I learnt that way (as did all my fellow piano students when I was a kid), and so do my students now, using the elementary beginner's method book.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Bob A #3087880 02/28/21 08:47 PM
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I finally had a chance to watch this video. Good tips here.


"An amateur practices until they get it right. A professional practices until they can't get it wrong." Julie Andrews

"Music is not a add hot water and stir kind of thing. You have to practice." Mr. Katz my junior HS music director (He was a cool guy)
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