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#957860 - 06/17/08 07:05 PM Two Line Reading Techniques  
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KawaiRx2-2 Offline
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I am having trouble reading two lines of music at the same time. Is there some technique to reading two lines? I feel that a lot of my mistakes while playing have to do with poor double line reading skills. I have returned to playing after many, many years and I can't help but question skills that I never thought about as a child. Maybe some of you more experienced people can give me some pointers.

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#957861 - 06/17/08 08:18 PM Re: Two Line Reading Techniques  
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Frank, I think you probably mean you're having difficulties reading the two staves in the grand staff, which we normally think of as one line of music.

A good part of the problem is due to not recognizing common elements, such as intervals, chords, scale passages, etc. You might consider developing your reading skills by practice reading at a level far below your playing skills.

Have you discussed this problem with your teacher? I'm sure they'd be more than happy to help you with it.


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
#957862 - 06/18/08 01:35 AM Re: Two Line Reading Techniques  
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Quote
Originally posted by FrankAAA:
I am having trouble reading two lines of music at the same time....
So am I.


snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/

#957863 - 06/18/08 01:50 AM Re: Two Line Reading Techniques  
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So do I. Think its time for a "secret decoder ring"

I memorize the treble part. Then I only have to mess with reading the Bass part/ I still find Bass clef to be hard to read. I think someone said "lets confuse the heck out of the newbies and see how hard we can make this."

#957864 - 06/18/08 01:57 AM Re: Two Line Reading Techniques  
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keyboardklutz Offline
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The secret is to know exactly the movements your eyes will take over the page. Every reading should have an identical track. Initial readings are slow and should concentrate on that.


snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/

#957865 - 06/18/08 02:48 AM Re: Two Line Reading Techniques  
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Betty Patnude Offline
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Starting with one note on one line of music is a good first start so that your eye has a chance to learn eye movement at the steady pace you have set as the tempo for the piece wish to play.

Today I had an interview with a new beginner who looked at the music globally which was every where at once instead of being able to follow the notes on the lines and spaces. The unused visual area between notes was bigger space to him and he'd play a note and then wait until his eye travelled to the next note by using the lines and spaces between the notes.

Then getting to the bar lines stopped him, too. He was seeing everything as an obstacle instead of leaping forward to the next note and thinking it through. It was very time consuming and ultimately chopping, combine that with a beginner hand and it creates a disadvantage.

This was on music like "Rain, Rain, Go Away" and "Hot Cross Buns" and short, simple RH melodies with fingering written in, and pulsing of the longer notes. (Note each song had just quarter notes -"TA"'s- and half notes - "HALF NOTES".)

So the first thing to do is build the hand with exercise so it will follow the thoughts, and to teach eye movement skills. I will probably use blank white file cards to expose only the note we are presently using with a cut out window in it. Then teach controlled darting to the next note which requires the right kind of equidistance in measures (same sizing them). Notes will also be a little larger, songs will be short.

When inexperienced pianist try reading two staves at once without being able to read one staff well, they are not going to be able to improve. The basic reason is that too many things are uncertain and the tempo can not be maintained. When the going is rough in reading there is also a transfer of unwanted tension through the body of the pianists. If we insist on hands together too early we will miss all the good experience of one hand learning to read and anticipate eye movement and the calculations of distance, direction and fingering. We will never be able to sightread.

A little caution and patience makes the "miracle" of reading music well, with two hands, a possibility.

Betty

#957866 - 06/18/08 03:16 AM Re: Two Line Reading Techniques  
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Yes, you should be able to read each staff separately well first. Although, eventually you should not need to play HS first before HT.

When you are at the stage of sightreading HT, you will (hopefully) start seeing chords as a chord and not it being notes of a chord. You will also start to see the right hand and left hand being one chord or part of chord when played together... you will start seeing patterns of scales, alberti bass (chords) as more of a whole unit, etc...

When you get to this stage and perhaps even before this stage, when you read the grand staff, have your eyes gaze from bass clef up to treble, this should help. And read at a slow and steady tempo. If you are making mistakes, you are playing to fast. Also, play slow enough so that you have time to see what is coming next, that way you will not miss a beat.


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#957867 - 06/18/08 03:25 AM Re: Two Line Reading Techniques  
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Quote
Originally posted by pianobuff:
when you read the grand staff, have your eyes gaze from bass clef up to treble,
...and there's the rub.


snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/

#957868 - 06/18/08 04:15 AM Re: Two Line Reading Techniques  
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There is more to it than the way the eye scans the music.

You need good coordination between the hands if you are going to read hands together. Print the following page to try some simple experiments:

Reading exercise

Sight read the top two examples. No.1 uses the treble and bass stave and no.2 the treble only. For no.2 play the top part with RH and the bottom part with LH. Is no.2 really any easier to sight read than no.1?

Another consideration is the relationship between the two parts. Sight read the middle example. This is obviously two separate pieces of music. The only thing they have in common is the time signature and the rhythm. It is not easy to read because the notes do not relate to each other in the way you would expect when reading a normal piece of music.

Try the example at the bottom of the page. There are more notes which form chords. A more experienced reader would find this easy because they understand the relationship between those notes.

There is no special technique for reading two staves. Practice is the only answer. Find a starting point at which you are comfortable and build from there. As you gain experience of harmony and develop technique and coordination your reading will improve.


Pianist and piano teacher.
#957869 - 06/18/08 04:25 AM Re: Two Line Reading Techniques  
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There is a difference between sight reading previously unseen music as in exams and regular sight reading of familiar sheet. It's more efficacious to know what you need to pay attention to i.e. memorize your visual tracking, for the second type. The distinction is not often made.


snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/

#957870 - 06/18/08 07:16 AM Re: Two Line Reading Techniques  
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The middle example of the link that Cris provided proved how much we rely on the layout of a good edition. Though it was odd to have two different keys, it was that the bar lines and notes were not lined up in rhythmic proportion that caused me to "force" them back into allignment, in my mind, to read the example.

It was kind of disorienting to sight read. My eyes had to keep darting back and forth and up and down. I was not able to read in measures, but was forced to think of it note by note. It seems to be a good exercise to remind us of how a beginner thinks of reading and struggling note by note.


Marty in Minnesota
#957871 - 06/18/08 07:56 AM Re: Two Line Reading Techniques  
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Frank -

People here have already mentioned this, such as Betty, but there are many factors that contribute to good sightreading, among which are knowledge of intervals and the layout of the music on the page.

Sightreading is equal parts experience and execution, meaning in order to sightread well, you need to sightread everything you can get your hands on, and to execute what you're reading you need to have the technical skills (and experience, ha) to pull off what's demanded. Start things slow. Pick up an early level children's method book, like Piano Adventures (the supplemental books work wonderfully for sightreading) and try to get through them. Don't be afraid to go down to the very first level. Be concerned with sightreading properly, without going back and fixing mistakes, or stopping and starting.

There are also sightreading books available. You should check with your teacher, your local library, and a sheet music dealer (not a local music store, they tend not to have specifics like this) for books written about sightreading. I borrowed a series called Speed-Reading at the Keyboard from my teacher, and I do some of it every day when I can. Unfortunately, it's out of print and can't be bought anymore. But there are books like it available.


Pianist and teacher with a 5'8" Baldwin R and Clavi CLP-230 at home.

New website up: http://www.studioplumpiano.com. Also on Twitter @QQitsMina
#957872 - 06/18/08 08:42 AM Re: Two Line Reading Techniques  
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Chris - about the middle one - "Warning, not before breakfast." is in order: cacaphonissimo. laugh

#957873 - 06/18/08 01:18 PM Re: Two Line Reading Techniques  
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Betty,

You wrote : "If we insist on hands together too early we will miss all the good experience of one hand learning to read and anticipate eye movement and the calculations of distance, direction and fingering. We will never be able to sightread."

The idea of never being able to sightread is discouraging... Perhaps that is why I am so slow and do not progress much. It never occurred to me that I should learn one hand at a time the way you indicate.

#957874 - 06/18/08 02:11 PM Re: Two Line Reading Techniques  
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Betty Patnude Offline
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lucie_eva,

I am hopeful you will take a step back and learn to read in each clef hands alone before putting hands together. If that truly works well for you and makes improvements for your future sightreading which would be reading hands together coordination, I would be glad you had read this. I won't gain any fans by saying "requirement" when learners would rather hear "optional".

Have you used a "trainer" on a website for learning note names on the treble and bass staffs, and then the grand staff? And, being able to find all the notes on the keyboard too.

Good luck to you in your progress!

Betty

#957875 - 06/18/08 02:16 PM Re: Two Line Reading Techniques  
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keystring Offline
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Lucie eva,
I remember reading earlier that you have been studying with a wonderful supportive teacher for the past few months, and she has told you of the wonderful progress you were making.

As a student I have found advantages to hand separate reading too. Since your teacher has been observing you all this time, why not broach the subject of improving sight reading with her. Her recommendations would be "custom tailored" to what she has seen in your progress and personality. Most teachers recommend HS for at least part of reading, afaik.

#957876 - 06/18/08 02:28 PM Re: Two Line Reading Techniques  
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Betty Patnude Offline
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Sightreading....


0 0 0 0 0 0 consider this to be a steady blue dot moving across the grand staff in the Middle C area. Mark it in if it helps you - it is placed every quarter note, so a 3/4 tempo would have 0 0 0 per measure, a 4/4 tempo would have 0 0 0 0 per measure. (This works as an enforced visual metronome - no clicks).

Align the beat you are on with the notes vertically placed from bottom to top - LH to RH.
0 + 0 + 0 + (if 1/8 notes exist)
0e+a0e+a0e+a (if 1/16th exist)

The 0 are the beats which count metrically
0 0 0 0
1 2 3 4

Note the combination of hands availabe to play the coordination is simply Left? Right? or Together? (Ask yourself the question of what you are seeing.)

Simplified: L? R? T?

These are two different concepts, so work through them both.

I use | for together marks. Then coordinating notes where one is sustained and one voice is moving (harmony)need to be connected to the longer of the beats. I use green color for this mapping. (I have no way of duplicating this on a typewriter keyboard - try by hand writing it in).

Marty2, I think you very much would benefit from sightreading training to align what your eyes are seeing in music. I don't know how you are able to read if it is not paced and relevant to the present moment beat.

You know the method books don't show us how to do this. Have you heard of "music mapping" before? This would be a good area to read about I'm sure you'd notice a difference by applying these kinds of things.

Good luck,


Betty

#957877 - 06/18/08 02:36 PM Re: Two Line Reading Techniques  
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Gee, everyone has concluded the OP was talking about reading both staves at once (and he probably was). But when I first read this, I thought he was asking about reading two voices ("lines") at once such as a Bach two-part invention.

I have a lot more trouble sight reading Bach because a lot of the suggestions for looking at intervals, chords, and other "vertical" structures don't work as well. I do usually read voices separate first (not HS), but I'm wondering if anyone has other suggestions specifically for polyphony.


Paul Buchanan
Estonia L168 #1718
#957878 - 06/18/08 03:38 PM Re: Two Line Reading Techniques  
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Betty,

I have sent a private PM as I respectfully submit that you have misread my posting.


Marty in Minnesota
#957879 - 06/18/08 04:07 PM Re: Two Line Reading Techniques  
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Yes, Marty, I misunderstood what I read there thinking you were saying that you always have a disorientation with darting eyes when you sight read, I now realize that you were talking about your response to Chris's 2 lines of uncomplimentary staves not meant to be read together. Mind boggling that really stops the music post haste. Just about an impossiblity to play much less to be musical with.

I sincerely apologize and have sent a return PM to yours. I was hasty and off base.

I know you to be a fine musician and teacher and I appreciate you bringing this to my attention.

And, I appreciate the other person who brought the problem of misunderstanding to my attention by sending me a copy of Chris's post of the music.

Regards!

Betty

#957880 - 06/18/08 05:02 PM Re: Two Line Reading Techniques  
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Quote
Just about an impossiblity to play much less to be musical with.
Betty, you should try playing that thing. :p It gives a new name to ugly. It's almost fun, it's so ugly.

#957881 - 06/18/08 06:20 PM Re: Two Line Reading Techniques  
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Betty Patnude Offline
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Just how ugly is it?

That ugly, huh!

I will not try it, I can see it, and audiate it, but I choose to protect what's left of my ears.

Betty

#957882 - 06/18/08 06:26 PM Re: Two Line Reading Techniques  
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Ever played the first of the Bartok bagatelles? LH key signature is 4 flats, RH is 4 sharps. Pleasant little mental challenge - but a very nice little piece. Unlike Chris's example, it's actually meant to go like that smile .


Du holde Kunst...
#957883 - 06/18/08 06:50 PM Re: Two Line Reading Techniques  
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Marty in Minnesota Offline

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Betty,

I thank you for your kind reply - here and by PM.

That little snippit is so ugly that you could ...

Oh, never mind, just run away and protect your ears!

I'm glad we're cool. I respect you, and the advice you give, and would like to feel as a colleague. Thank you for allowing that distinction.

Sincerely,


Marty in Minnesota
#957884 - 06/19/08 01:38 AM Re: Two Line Reading Techniques  
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2hearts Aw, gee, Marty_2,

A mutual admiration society.....didn't somebody already write that song?

I'm glad we were able to fix the problem together and I very much appreciate your courtesy.

Betty

#957885 - 06/19/08 12:16 PM Re: Two Line Reading Techniques  
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Hi Keystring,
FrankAAA, I will answer Keystring comment.

Yes, I did broach the subject with her - and we are trying something else for this specific problem - not what Betty talked about though, that is why I found it interesting. I am very respectful of my teacher, and this problem is one that lies with me and we are trying to solve it.

In fact I make improvements learning new pieces because I learn things quite easily by ear and by heart... While I don't want to complaint about it, it becomes a handicap at some point. As soon as I know a piece by heart, I forget how to read it. My memory compensates for my lack of knowledge and (it's difficult to explain) it takes control and becomes a nuisance to my learning. I have to tell myself - don't play this by heart, always look at the music sheet and identify the note. I can find the notes quite easily on the piano when I have identified them on the music sheet, it's just identifying them that is still problematic. I tried to find a solution, i.e. write the name of the note on the music sheet, figuring out that with time I would make the connection between the word and the location of the note, but instead I read the word and make no progress! I also take with me music sheets and when I have 5-10 minutes, I read the notes - it's just taking time...

I have to control my impatience and force myself not to learn things by heart.

#957886 - 06/19/08 12:59 PM Re: Two Line Reading Techniques  
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Lucie_eva, I faced a similar situation - a strength taking over another skill I wanted to bring in. We have very efficient minds that will take the easiest path. A child learning has no skills so he is dependant on what is being taught.

I've had some work with remediation aka retraining. Effective retraining requires a very focussed attention, it is highly effective, but tiring to do more than briefly - your attention must be full on and must not wander. As your mind becomes accustomed, it rapidly becomes easier.

To bring this about earlier this year I dedicated time several times a day when I would put my attention fully on the notes and the keys using my senses. I pictured the 2 + 3 black keys in my mind, when I played D I saw the D between those two keys, I nestled the two black keys, and it was a mega-D, like those surreal paintings. It was a D-experience. smile If I played D,F then I was aware of the skip of 2 notes, of moving to the outside of those two keys, of the skip of two fingers - a visual, tactile experinece being really aware as sensation and association.

Little kids "feel things" so much more, because everything is new. Sometimes I concentrated more on the intervals, sometimes the notes - but I would stop if I found my attention was no longer on the keys and note names.

I'd do that for maybe 5 minutes, later 10, take a break, and go on to something else, just trusting that this would do something.

In comparison to what I could do before *in this area* I've progressed a lot. To an outsider my playing might be the same, because the ability to play what I hear, and hear what I see on the page, means my playing was fluid already. But the ability to sight read is a lot better.

#957887 - 06/19/08 01:16 PM Re: Two Line Reading Techniques  
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Quote
I can find the notes quite easily on the piano when I have identified them on the music sheet, it's just identifying them that is still problematic
On second thought - what do you mean by identifying? Does it mean that as you play you want to know where you are on the page and where you are on the keyboard? Or do you think you must know the name of each note as you play it? Or?

KS

#957888 - 06/19/08 01:22 PM Re: Two Line Reading Techniques  
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I thank each of you for your comments. Being a much older "returner", I value this forum for its ability, and willingness, to help me understand some of the things that I can look at in my trying to solve some of my piano playing problems. Thanks again. Frank

#957889 - 06/19/08 02:56 PM Re: Two Line Reading Techniques  
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I mean, if you ask me to look on the music sheet and tell you the name of a certain note taken at random (it's worse on the bottom clef), I usually count very quickly from one I know (usually C) to the one I am asked. And then I even forget sometimes how to recite back the scale - so I am in trouble! I feel like an idiot (I know that Betty says not to have negative thoughts though but it's very frustrating). It's like I have a teflon mind about this precise thing, I don't understand why I have so much trouble learning it.

If you tell me "play me a G, a C, etc..." on the piano, I know where all the notes are. It's just deciphering them on the music sheet.

My teacher has found a new thing for me to do that is very, very basic. I take a simple piece of music, and, one clef at a time, I find what the note is, I say it aloud, and then I play it. Believe it or not, after 10 minutes of this, I am totally exhausted.

I have a good teacher, but sometimes I like to look on this forum because perhaps someone experienced will have a method to overcome this frustrating barrier.

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Practicing scales plus.
by happyhacker. 05/24/17 05:08 AM
More? Or less?
by Jolly. 05/23/17 09:10 PM
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