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#1029610 - 10/07/04 09:49 AM Beginner Help... Counting
matthooper Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/07/04
Posts: 3
I had my first lesson ever this past Tuesday \:\) I've never played piano but have always wanted to. I'm excited and want to learn but am having trouble counting.

I can play all the little easy songs with little trouble and can find my way around easily enough but when I try to count while playing it always throws me off \:\( I'm saying the count aloud (D-2-3 C C-2 etc..) and I find my self trying so hard to look at the count and say it and find the proper keys that I don't even hear the sounds. If I just concentrate on the proper keys and play without counting only using a natural feel it seems much easier.

Am I normal and is this something that comes with time and practice. I don't like not "feeling" the music... it seems so mechanical. I realize I shouldn't really worry about this as a beginner but was wondering if there are any tricks to counting.

Thanks...

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#1029611 - 10/07/04 10:36 AM Re: Beginner Help... Counting
Bob Muir Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/01/03
Posts: 2653
Loc: Lakewood, WA, USA
Absolutely normal! The super easy pieces it doesn't *seem* to matter much. After all, we all know how "The Saints Go Marching In" sounds, so we don't need to count.

But it won't be long at all 'til you're playing pieces that have a 16ths mixed in with 8ths and 4th notes and soon you'll have a 32nd rest, two 16ths and then a 32nd to finish off before the next measure. Counting is obviously critical then.

Much better to start now and get used to it. I would recommend counting once you have the current piece completely under your fingers so you don't have to worry about where the notes are. That will get you used to counting while playing. Start counting out loud. Next you'll be counting under your breath and eventually you should be able to count in your head while you're playing.

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#1029612 - 10/07/04 12:42 PM Re: Beginner Help... Counting
Cindysphinx Offline


Registered: 02/14/03
Posts: 6416
Loc: Washington D.C. Metro
I'm afraid I don't understand the question. You wrote, "(D-2-3 C C-2 etc..)."

I always thought of counting as thinking or saying, "One and two and three and."

Can you explain?

Congrats on the first lesson! It's a total rush, isn't it?
_________________________
Vote For Cindy!!

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#1029613 - 10/07/04 01:00 PM Re: Beginner Help... Counting
Bob Muir Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/01/03
Posts: 2653
Loc: Lakewood, WA, USA
Jeesh, I didn't even notice that Cindy. I wonder if that's the way his teacher is having him count, with the note as the number when it's hit. I would think it would be better to start out with numbers though.

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#1029614 - 10/07/04 03:04 PM Re: Beginner Help... Counting
matthooper Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/07/04
Posts: 3
Thanks... and Bob your assumption on cindy's question is correct. My teacher said it was ok if I use the Note first if it was easier for me.

I'll try numbers only tonight when I practice.

Thanks again...

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#1029615 - 10/11/04 06:26 AM Re: Beginner Help... Counting
mound Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/10/04
Posts: 782
Loc: Rochester, NY
I am a big fan of counting out loud while learning, in fact, not just "outloud" but actually singing the numbers outloud to match the tone the key is producing. Adding that extra sense into the mix really helps you get the piece in your head and fingers quickly. Eventually you can count under your breath or in your head, and at a certain point, for a piece you've really nailed, you won't have to count it consciously anymore.. but I'll reiterate again and agree with folks above, that counting outloud at first to really make sure the rhythms are exactly right is extremely important.

-Paul
_________________________
"You look hopefully for an idea and then you're humble when you find it and you wish your skills were better. To have even a half-baked touch of creativity is an honor."
-- Ernie Stires, composer

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#1029616 - 10/11/04 06:55 AM Re: Beginner Help... Counting
Lizzy1234 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/15/03
Posts: 212
Loc: St. Louis
Coming out of lurkdom to ask a counting question, too. I'm learning the Alfred's Christmas book 2 O, Holy Night in 6/8 time and counting it aloud. My dumb question is, do I say it, "one-two-three-four-five-six" or is it, "one-two-three, one-two-three"?

I've enjoyed reading here for a long time and gotten lots of good advice and encouragement. Love this beginning adult forum - I'm 46 and have been taking 2-1/2 years. Liz

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#1029617 - 10/11/04 07:04 AM Re: Beginner Help... Counting
Bob Muir Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/01/03
Posts: 2653
Loc: Lakewood, WA, USA
Count up to 6 with emphasis on 1 and a slight emphasis on 4.

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#1029618 - 10/11/04 08:43 AM Re: Beginner Help... Counting
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
I think it is important for your body to understand rhythmic counting.. When walking for instance count to 4, repeatedly, or walk in waltz rhythm.. 123 123 123 123.
_________________________
accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)

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#1029619 - 10/11/04 09:21 AM Re: Beginner Help... Counting
Lizzy1234 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/15/03
Posts: 212
Loc: St. Louis
Thanks, Bob, for the quick reply. I hesitate to bother my teacher thru the week (tho she really wouldn't mind, I know) as she's so busy. And by lesson day, my mistakes are well established, unfortunately. Liz

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#1029620 - 10/12/04 08:33 AM Re: Beginner Help... Counting
Nina Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/13/01
Posts: 6467
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
It seems that it would be way hard to name the note and then switch to the count. I just tried it, and I couldn't do it after 35 years of playing!

I remember benedict and I getting involved in a sight reading thread about a year ago, where he was also having major problems. Turns out he was also trying to say the note and play it.

My personal view: you're not trying to learn to name the notes when you read music, you're trying to PLAY them. I don't get why your teacher would want you to associate the note on the page with a name, rather than a hand on a key.

My 2c!

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#1029621 - 10/12/04 10:12 AM Re: Beginner Help... Counting
chewmanfoo Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/01/04
Posts: 7
Loc: N Texas, USA
Bob's post above:

"After all, we all know how "The Saints Go Marching In" sounds, so we don't need to count."

got me to thinking. I took a Sight Reading class in college, and I remember that halfway through the class I discovered that the trick was practicing the little pieces so often that I knew the songs by heart, and thereby I knew what they sounded like and wouldn't have any trouble singing them. Surely the same applies for piano, albeit more complex.

Any thoughts?

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#1029622 - 10/14/04 10:57 AM Re: Beginner Help... Counting
Cryptkeeper Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/29/04
Posts: 114
Loc: Belgium
*phew, I remebered my login and password*

I'm now taking lessons about 4 months and counting is indeed not so easy for a beginner.
I don't count every note, but most of it I do count. I mostly don't count quarter notes.

When I go to bed I take my exercise book and I read the notes loud (well whisper) of the songs I need to learn on the beat. I keep te beat by tapping my finger, it's the same as counting, just without the numbers.

My piano teacher also reads the notes while playing and sais I should do also.
_________________________
Sorry about the mistakes...

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#1029623 - 10/15/04 01:45 PM Re: Beginner Help... Counting
Jerry Luke Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/15/04
Posts: 969
Loc: Tillamook, Oregon
Cryptkeeper-

I visited your site and listened to your recordings (as a matter of fact, I'm listening to one as I type this). You are an inspiration to me! We share several similarities: I've been playing for about 7 months (1/2 as long as you), I use a keyboard, and I am self-taught. Your recordings are AWESOME! I hope when I hit 16 months, I can play like that! I am going to check out the pianonanny site...looks neat. Thanks for sharing. \:D
_________________________
Support our troops!

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#1029624 - 10/16/04 03:34 AM Re: Beginner Help... Counting
Cryptkeeper Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/29/04
Posts: 114
Loc: Belgium
Thanks Jerry!
I never thought people actually visited that link.
So, you are also self-taught, that shows you really want to learn to play the piano.

Pianonanny is the site where it all began for me.
That site has learned me the basics. Then you just have to keep practising.
As of may, I sold my keyboard and bought a digital piano, so the recordings are made on the piano.

I'm sure that if you reach 16 months you'll also be able to play that stuff, if not better.
Keep on playing and have fun doing it!
_________________________
Sorry about the mistakes...

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#1029625 - 10/24/04 12:25 PM Re: Beginner Help... Counting
jasper_garcia Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/15/04
Posts: 172
Loc: New York
I'm not sure if this required its own thread, and its counting related, so I'll post here...

I'm trying to play this song that is written in 3/4. I have heard the song before, but it's been a long time and I dont remember almost any of it. I only remember what is written in the first measure, since it repeats later on. Here is the problem...

If I play it according to what I think it should sound like in 3/4, I recognize the first measure by its sound, but the following 7 measures make no sense to me. It doesnt sound familiar, and it feels as though I dont get the "musical" point of it.

If I play it as if it was 6/8, the first measure sounds different, but the rest actually seems to "make sense." It's not what I think it should be, but it has better feeling than when I attempt playing 3/4.

Listening to the song will definitely help me see what the problem is, but I'd like to know if this has happened to anyone else before. I'd like to be able to fix the problem simply from reading the notes, because I have a feeling this will happen again eventually.

Also, I'm only playing the treble clef.

Any thoughts?
(Here are the notes...)
_________________________
Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it. [Salvador Dalí]
--------------------------------------------------------------

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#1029626 - 10/25/04 05:10 AM Re: Beginner Help... Counting
jasper_garcia Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/15/04
Posts: 172
Loc: New York
OK, so I couldnt wait any longer to see what the problem was. I listened to the song and realized that it wasnt much the way I remembered it to be, so my memory somewhat betrayed me.

Now this has me thinking on what difference there is between the sound of 3/4 and 6/8.
_________________________
Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it. [Salvador Dalí]
--------------------------------------------------------------

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#1029627 - 10/25/04 07:06 AM Re: Beginner Help... Counting
cranky woman Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/06/04
Posts: 282
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
The difference between 3/4 and 6/8 has to do with subdividing the eighth beats. In 3/4 time the strongest beat is 1[/b] with beats 2 and 3 slightly less, but with 3 distinct beats. A quarter note receives each beat. Counted this way 1[/b] + 2[/b] + 3[/b] +

In 6/8 there are 2 main beats, beat 1 and 4, with an eighth note receiving each beat, so it can feel like it is in 2/4. 1[/b] 2 3 4[/b] 56

This piece would sound very different if counted as 6/8.

I hope that helps!

Cranky Woman \:D
_________________________
www.tcwresources.com

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#1029628 - 10/29/04 11:39 AM Re: Beginner Help... Counting
markb Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/29/04
Posts: 2593
Loc: Maryland
Here's an idea to help with counting. Buy a beginner snare drum book. It will obviously teach counting and rhythm, and, as a bonus, you don't have to worry about playing the right notes. You can either just plink any key to the right rhythm, or you can just tap out a rhythm.
_________________________
markb--The Count of Casio

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#1029629 - 11/03/04 10:00 AM Re: Beginner Help... Counting
Kris10 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/03/04
Posts: 21
Loc: Ohio
Now you all have me wondering, doesn't anyone tap their foot while counting? I'm coming from a total flute background here, but when I play piano I tap my left foot if I'm really concentrating on counting. That helps to keep a steady beat. And I don't count numbers unless I'm truly studying the counting. I just tap my foot twice for a half note, etc. I don't remember if I ever actually counted numbers, but surely I did. It something that just comes with time, I think.

On piano, I find that the notes fit together in a way that counting isn't even exactly necessary. As an example, the left hand may keep a steady beat of quarter notes and the hand plays maybe a dotted quarter followed by five eigth notes. I know that the right hand holds the dotted quarter while the left hand plays two notes and the eighth notes fit neatly between the beats of the left. (So hard to explain in words!)

Also, I agree that a piece played in 3/4 feels very different from one played 6/8 or 2/4. If played in 2/4 it has more the feeling of a waltz with tripelet figures where as if played in 3/4 it has the feel of steady eighth notes. It isn't always so distinct, but in this case, since the music is written in 3/4, it would be better to count it 1+2+3+ so that it does not have the waltzy feeling to it.

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#1029630 - 11/03/04 10:37 AM Re: Beginner Help... Counting
markb Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/29/04
Posts: 2593
Loc: Maryland
When I played clarinet in band, we were told not to tap our feet to keep time, but I suppose this really has to do with how it would look to see a concert band performance in which all the musicians are tap tap tapping. I took guitar lessons for about six months and was encouraged to tap. And when I played drums, well, most of the time you can't really just tap your foot to keep time unless the bass drum or hi-hat is keeping a steady beat. There are qualifications to this, of course, but that's for www.drumworld.com.
_________________________
markb--The Count of Casio

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#1029631 - 11/03/04 11:33 AM Re: Beginner Help... Counting
Kris10 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/03/04
Posts: 21
Loc: Ohio
How interesting. As a young band player, were you taught to at least tap your toe? I've heard of students doing this. I like for my flute students to tap their foot when they are beginning so I can clearly see just how much they are following it. I also sing with a choir and I've noticed that all the musicians tap their foot while they sing. And the organist...well her feet are very busy on the pedals!! My, but she's amazing! \:D

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#1029632 - 11/03/04 01:43 PM Re: Beginner Help... Counting
markb Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/29/04
Posts: 2593
Loc: Maryland
Sorry, Kris, can't remember that far back! I just remember the no tapping directive.
_________________________
markb--The Count of Casio

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#1029633 - 11/04/04 03:59 AM Re: Beginner Help... Counting
Neus A. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/30/04
Posts: 83
Loc: Spain
I tap with my right foot when learning a piece before I incorporate practice with the pedal. I can't tap with my left one and play at the same time. \:\( Once I've got the knack of it I stop tapping.

Neus

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#1029634 - 11/08/04 08:36 PM Re: Beginner Help... Counting
dissonance Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/08/04
Posts: 20
Loc: Scottsdale
Since no one mentioned, 6/8 is compound duple meter.
2/4 and 3/4 are simple meters.

You should count 6/8 as One-and-a two-and-a, not 1-2-3-4-5-6. But if that's what you're comfortable with ... :p

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#1029635 - 11/11/04 05:41 AM Re: Beginner Help... Counting
cranky woman Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/06/04
Posts: 282
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
Since no one mentioned, 6/8 is compound duple meter. [/b]

You should count 6/8 as One-and-a two-and-a, not 1-2-3-4-5-6. But if that's what you're comfortable with ... [/b]

Absolutely right, 6/8 is compound duple meter. But I will disagree that counting is always[/b] 1 and a 2 and a It helps many students to count 1-2-3-4-5-6. Eventually they will feel it in two beats, but it's important to teach proper subdividing, with emphasis on strong and weak beats (1 and 4 as the strong beats with 1 as the strongest).

cranky woman \:D
_________________________
www.tcwresources.com

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#1029636 - 11/11/04 07:49 PM Re: Beginner Help... Counting
Nina Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/13/01
Posts: 6467
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
How many of you really count numbers? Or even the -e-and-uh (or ta-te-ti or whatever that one is)?

I rarely bother with the numbers, I realize. I just sort of go bop, bop, bop or something similar.

Just curious...

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#1029637 - 11/13/04 02:21 PM Re: Beginner Help... Counting
dissonance Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/08/04
Posts: 20
Loc: Scottsdale
Eh, I don't really count much either -- not even bop :p

Most of the time I already kown how it should sound, and sometimes I cheat with the computer

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