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#1172739 - 04/01/09 04:27 PM reading music
enfrançais Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/03/09
Posts: 111
OK, so how dumb am I?
Can someone explain to me what 'reading music' is exactly ?

My mom talks like it's a skill you're either born with or not, can't be acquired, like some amazing, cosmic talent. She is not a 'musical' person.

Musical people that I do talk to talk about learning it like it's this long, drawn-out process, like learning to read English.

Up to now, I guess I've never had reading music explained to me. If I were to take my best guess, reading music would mean being able to string together series of notes to make more meaningful, larger chunks, equivalent to our words and sentences. Should you be able to hear the music in your head if you are, in fact, reading it? Or is it simply looking at a score and being able to rattle off the names of notes F, G, A, C, F#, etc.?

Please help me clear this up! When people ask me if I can read music, I honestly don't know how to answer. blush
_________________________
"L'art est le plus beau des mensonges." -Debussy

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#1172758 - 04/01/09 04:45 PM Re: reading music [Re: enfrançais]
YamahaMamma Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/30/09
Posts: 148
I'll try to explain the best I can, but the more experienced pianists may be able to answer this best.

Reading music is not only about reading C, D, E, F, G. It's about reading the signature, it's about reading eighth notes, it's about reading the rests needed, playing the piece lively or slowly, loudly or softly. Reading the piece and playing the music according to how it is written, blends the notes, rhythm, timing and sound which brings you beautiful music. It's not just knowing the notes, it's knowing how to play them which makes the tune/sound of the piece.

Hope this helps.

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#1172768 - 04/01/09 05:00 PM Re: reading music [Re: YamahaMamma]
mom3gram Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/26/08
Posts: 1133
Loc: New Jersey
I'm just a beginner, but here goes:
Reading is not just identifying the names of the notes. It's also knowing which finger to use to press which note, how long to hold it, and whether to play loudly or softly, and how fast. That's the basics (where I'm at). There is a whole lot more to playing piano, but that's pretty much what "reading" means for a beginner anyway.
_________________________
mom3gram

ALFRED'S ADULT BOOK 1 GRADUATE


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#1172776 - 04/01/09 05:13 PM Re: reading music [Re: enfrançais]
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
I think it's akin to reading English; learning it might be a long process, and it's certainly not something one is born with.

Knowing the letters of the alphabet doesn't mean you can read; you have to understand how they combine into words, and how words form even larger structures. Likewise, reading music is more than being able to identify individual notes. It's knowing how they relate to each other (whether played simultaneously or in succession), and recognizing their duration, manner of articulation and loudness, too—and how everything comes together in musical phrases.

Whether one can "hear" the music while reading—called audiation—depends on things like one's sense of relative pitch, understanding of intervals and recognition of chords. Even without any of these skills, it should be possible to recognize the contours of a melodic line and the rhythm.

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#1172855 - 04/01/09 07:34 PM Re: reading music [Re: sotto voce]
majones Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/21/07
Posts: 331
Loc: Deep East Texas Piney Woods
Reading musical notations.

Step one; being able to read and say the note name in the same amount of time it takes to say your name. Three to eight weeks.

Step two; being able to then find those notes on your instrument. Another three to eight weeks.

Step three; being able to find and sound those notes on your instrument and not loose the beat. Several years.

Step four; it's here you will move from just reading to understanding music theory. Being able to recognize patterns and anticipate what is coming. Several more years.

Step five; your study of music never ends. As you walk through one door another one is revealed. But, in three to eight weeks you will on your way.

Malcolm


Edited by majones (04/01/09 07:40 PM)

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#1172856 - 04/01/09 07:34 PM Re: reading music [Re: sotto voce]
Prince Charles Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/19/08
Posts: 180
Loc: London
Being able to read music goes beyond seeing the notes - for me it's about hearing the music when you see the score. A little like reading a good novel where you immediately begin to visualise the scene....IMHO.

In the meantime, I will continue various sight reading practices eek

Mark

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#1172872 - 04/01/09 08:04 PM Re: reading music [Re: Prince Charles]
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
is this a April fool joke?

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#1172907 - 04/01/09 08:54 PM Re: reading music [Re: signa]
Surendipity Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/24/05
Posts: 129
It's a language that is universal learn it once and vacation with your piano in Paris or Prague it's all the same.
Cool eh?
You have to learn it, it is not a miarcle. They say Mozart was a genius at notation, ok I'll buy it, 'cause I love him.
But he practiced huge!!! He had no HBO no Nintendo no Radio no Internet or Blackberries unless eatable.
SO he pracitced....
That's the ticket.
The more you do it the easier it gets, that's why my Dentist is 65.

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#1172913 - 04/01/09 09:12 PM Re: reading music [Re: enfrançais]
Scruffies Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/21/09
Posts: 58
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: enfrançais
OK, so how dumb am I?
Can someone explain to me what 'reading music' is exactly ?

My mom talks like it's a skill you're either born with or not, can't be acquired, like some amazing, cosmic talent. She is not a 'musical' person.

Musical people that I do talk to talk about learning it like it's this long, drawn-out process, like learning to read English.

Up to now, I guess I've never had reading music explained to me. If I were to take my best guess, reading music would mean being able to string together series of notes to make more meaningful, larger chunks, equivalent to our words and sentences. Should you be able to hear the music in your head if you are, in fact, reading it? Or is it simply looking at a score and being able to rattle off the names of notes F, G, A, C, F#, etc.?

Please help me clear this up! When people ask me if I can read music, I honestly don't know how to answer. blush


Unlike reading words, which usually does not involve any sounds, music is usually (not always) auditory, which means you must both read it and create it. Like learning English initially, you start with very simple sentences and so it is with learning to read music you start with very short and simple sound patterns (songs) and over time work your way up to more complex and demanding ones.

To get a feel for this, pick out your favorite classical piece and find the sheet music for it on the internet and print it out, and then find a Utube of a pianist playing it, and you can appreciate what it takes to create wonderful music from the notes on a page.

As to when someone might say they can "read music"? Well, using the English analogy again, can someone read English when they can read and understand "See Spot Run" or a full length novel? Probably something in between and as mentioned by others it definately takes time and work to get really good at reading and creating music.

Everyone's mileage will vary, and this beginner is pretty much at the See Spot Run stage!

Hope this helps...

/Scruffies

PS: There is "reading" and then there's "sight-reading" which usually means someone who can be handed a piece of music they have not seen before and proceed to play it at tempo with very few errors, a skill I can only imagine.
_________________________
/Scruffies

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#1172964 - 04/01/09 11:07 PM Re: reading music [Re: Scruffies]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11922
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Reading music in many cases *is* simply knowing your notes and rests, being able to identify the letter name, and also to be able to read the relationship between notes (intervals). That is really all there is to it. I can read words in French very well, even with a decent accent. I would have no clue what I'm saying, however. Once you have gotten to the point where you've done all of that with your music, then you try to put it all together in your mind to create music from it. Some can hear the music in their head as they look at a piece of unfamiliar music, but that takes most people many years to be able to do. The more you play, the more you'll get a feel for a piece even before playing it the first time.

Just as a child learns to understand a written language by associating it with the words (sounds) it already knows and uses, they don't have to learn how to read first and learn the rules of grammar formally to be able to speak. Learning to read music is very similar. We instinctively understand the "rules" of music, if you will, but remember that while written words can be very nicely put, they can sometimes (as we find so often on these forums) not always communicate tone of voice or feeling of the one speaking, which sometimes leads to a break down of communication. If we rely solely on the written music to convey the message of the music, then it will not sound genuine. As you get more experienced you'll be better at detecting what the music is saying, or what you'd like it to say. smile
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#1172980 - 04/01/09 11:47 PM Re: reading music [Re: Morodiene]
Thorium Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/29/09
Posts: 40
Loc: Norway
Morodiene,

I keep stumbling across helpful posts written by you! Your recent post on techique in reply to Zarathustra was very nice. Keep up the good work. =)

As to the topic: I'm coming from the guitar, so I'm not really used to reading bass clef music. I don't sweat it though, and just commit the pieces to memory instead of trying to read while I'm playing, which I find is mostly distracting and keeps me at a snail-like pace. I'm sure I'd become a better reader faster if I focused on it, but that will come with experience. I do love printing a fresh sheet of music for one of my favorite pieces and picking at some of the notes. It's magic; the beauty is right there on the page.

Hey, btw, what's the etiquette for posting videos of oneself playing something for critique and advice? I don't see too many people doing it. Is it considered rude to impose one's substandard playing on our patrician regulars?
_________________________
Working on:
F�r Elise (all of it, ugh)
Prelude in C, BWV 846
Michael Nyman - The Heart Asks Pleasure First (great finger exercise!)

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#1173223 - 04/02/09 01:32 PM Re: reading music [Re: signa]
enfrançais Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/03/09
Posts: 111
Originally Posted By: signa
is this a April fool joke?


I only wish it were... blush

Thanks for all your help, everyone!
_________________________
"L'art est le plus beau des mensonges." -Debussy

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#1173268 - 04/02/09 02:40 PM Re: reading music [Re: enfrançais]
markb Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/29/04
Posts: 2593
Loc: Maryland
Learning to read music is easy. Learning to play music--not so much easy.
_________________________
markb--The Count of Casio

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#1173718 - 04/03/09 09:17 AM Re: reading music [Re: Thorium]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11922
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: Thorium
Morodiene,

I keep stumbling across helpful posts written by you! Your recent post on techique in reply to Zarathustra was very nice. Keep up the good work. =)

As to the topic: I'm coming from the guitar, so I'm not really used to reading bass clef music. I don't sweat it though, and just commit the pieces to memory instead of trying to read while I'm playing, which I find is mostly distracting and keeps me at a snail-like pace. I'm sure I'd become a better reader faster if I focused on it, but that will come with experience. I do love printing a fresh sheet of music for one of my favorite pieces and picking at some of the notes. It's magic; the beauty is right there on the page.

Hey, btw, what's the etiquette for posting videos of oneself playing something for critique and advice? I don't see too many people doing it. Is it considered rude to impose one's substandard playing on our patrician regulars?


Thanks for the encouragement, Thorium smile

As for posting recordings for critique, there is a forum especially designed for that. Scroll down the where it says "Hop to" and has a drop down menu, and select "Member Recordings".
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#1173743 - 04/03/09 10:00 AM Re: reading music [Re: Morodiene]
DragonPianoPlayer Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/12/06
Posts: 2368
Loc: Denver, CO
The ABF is a lot more open on posting recordings. We have a piano bar for posting your recordings every month - see April Piano Bar for that thread. Also we have quarterly recitals, I believe the next recital comes up in May. Also, if you are working out of the Alfred's books, there are the three Alfred's threads that you can post in. Finally, I can't say that anyone here in the ABF has frowned upon someone creating a new thread for their recording. Please note, that you will be much more likely to receive support than criticism here in the ABF.

I would say that the Pianists Corner is the main forum that really suggests (rather strongly at times) posting in the Member's Recordings forum.

Rich
_________________________

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#1174305 - 04/04/09 11:34 AM Re: reading music [Re: enfrançais]
Jeff Hao Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/03/09
Posts: 177
Loc: Hong Kong
Because of the design of the Grand Staff, reading music has been made unnecessarily difficult. That is my well researched personal opinion.

It is so well researched, that I have gone on to invent an alternative "staff" (US Patented) for adult piano learners.

But the tradition of Grand Staff is so dominating, that people just accept it. But music scores really do not have to be that complicated.

Of course, I am just talking about the part about identifying the music notes with their corresponding piano keys. Many people find this part (Grand Staff, the key signatures and accidentals) so daunting that they just give up. There is, of course, more to that in "music reading", e.g. length of note, dynamics, expressions, techniques, etc.

Jeff Hao
_________________________
*****
Translating piano music into the "adult-friendly" Hao Staff

http://haostaff.com - FREE sheets download (Grand and Hao Staff)

Over 100 most well-known pieces of all genres, and growing fast
... make it one of your FREE online resources

http://facebook.com/haostaffpiano

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#1174317 - 04/04/09 11:52 AM Re: reading music [Re: Jeff Hao]
Thorium Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/29/09
Posts: 40
Loc: Norway
<Jeff Hao> When your post is deleted, it is probably a good idea not to reproduce it.
_________________________
Working on:
F�r Elise (all of it, ugh)
Prelude in C, BWV 846
Michael Nyman - The Heart Asks Pleasure First (great finger exercise!)

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#1174325 - 04/04/09 12:06 PM Re: reading music [Re: Thorium]
Jeff Hao Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/03/09
Posts: 177
Loc: Hong Kong
Thorium,

BB Player has explained why my posted thread was deleted and the parts that broke the pianoworld forum rules.

I am new to pianoworld and I did not know that. I believe that this post of mine does not break any rules. If any part does, please let me know, and I will correct it. But you cannot keep telling me to shut up. This is a forum, is it not?

If you have a different academic view about what I say, or my invention-based business cause, let's discuss openly or privately. I read your reply to my "deleted post" and found that you have many misconceptions about how the Grand Staff works. I am happy to help you clear them.

I am annoyed, but hope that we can exchange views normally.

Jeff
_________________________
*****
Translating piano music into the "adult-friendly" Hao Staff

http://haostaff.com - FREE sheets download (Grand and Hao Staff)

Over 100 most well-known pieces of all genres, and growing fast
... make it one of your FREE online resources

http://facebook.com/haostaffpiano

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#1174329 - 04/04/09 12:12 PM Re: reading music [Re: Thorium]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
I wish I could mingle with people having trouble with reading and understanding Grand Staff. I could get you to an accomplished readed state in a short time period. You would own the piano keyboard and the grand staff and carry it within your being from now on.

It starts with one line, and then with ingenuity 2 lines to create one space. Etc.

7 alphabet letters

Middle Line Centering (Bass, Treble, Grand) Voila! Identifies all the lines and spaces on the keyboard. Great tool to know!

Leger lines added below the staff, and above the staff and between the staves when needed.

Keyboard Orientation

Finger Numbering of the Hand

Add Note Value Counting

Add Coordination choices - Left? Right? Together?

Add eye movement training

Adding "Blue dots" and "Music Mapping" and you will be playing piano with some very mighty resources.

Systems and structures in thinking and planning with the right concepts at the right time will get you there. Pacing is very important in the sequence of things.

The Grand Staff needs to be first approached in a concrete - sequential format, then I add some random - abstract creative ideas, and the reading music world becomes your oyster. (Ignore that comment if you don't like oysters, substituted a different word.)

I'd love to help more people! In person works best! I'd also love to do it eventually by video presentations! I'd love to share my knowledge with more people. Everyone is struggling too much, too hard, for too long. It's painful to see this happening. It doesn't have to be so. Angst!

Beginning now.....

Betty Patnude

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#1174334 - 04/04/09 12:19 PM Re: reading music [Re: Jeff Hao]
Thorium Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/29/09
Posts: 40
Loc: Norway
<MANY misconceptions about how the Grand Staff works> Oh? I believe I only mentioned _one_ aspect of the Grand Staff, that specific aspect your invention seeks to remedy. Please tell me what my many misconceptions are.

What _I_ am annoyed about is that your post in this thread is not all that helpful to the initial poster. It says very little at all, actually, but does go out of its way to stress that you have a patented a way to circumvent all this tedious learning.

It seems fairly clear to me you're trying to solicit, considering the way you word your post and how you're so "helpfully" providing a link to your business in your signature. If I'm mistaken, you have my apologies.
_________________________
Working on:
F�r Elise (all of it, ugh)
Prelude in C, BWV 846
Michael Nyman - The Heart Asks Pleasure First (great finger exercise!)

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#1174335 - 04/04/09 12:21 PM Re: reading music [Re: Betty Patnude]
Thorium Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/29/09
Posts: 40
Loc: Norway
Betty,

I'm not sure why you're replying to my post in particular. I find no real faults with the Grand Staff, and am happy to read it. I'm just not fluent with F-clef notes, yet. Damn that guitar! =) I have to thinking about them (well, some of them) for a second to figure out what they are, but it's quickly getting better.

I think our present system for codifying music is fine. I'd happily discuss it with our innovator Mr. Hao, though why he picked the Adult Beginners Forum to launch his "academic" discourse on music notation is a bit of a mystery (actually, it's not).


Edited by Thorium (04/04/09 12:56 PM)
_________________________
Working on:
F�r Elise (all of it, ugh)
Prelude in C, BWV 846
Michael Nyman - The Heart Asks Pleasure First (great finger exercise!)

Top
#1174368 - 04/04/09 12:51 PM Re: reading music [Re: Jeff Hao]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11922
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: Jeff Hao
Because of the design of the Grand Staff, reading music has been made unnecessarily difficult. That is my well researched personal opinion.

It is so well researched, that I have gone on to invent an alternative "staff" (US Patented) for adult piano learners.

But the tradition of Grand Staff is so dominating, that people just accept it. But music scores really do not have to be that complicated.

Of course, I am just talking about the part about identifying the music notes with their corresponding piano keys. Many people find this part (Grand Staff, the key signatures and accidentals) so daunting that they just give up. There is, of course, more to that in "music reading", e.g. length of note, dynamics, expressions, techniques, etc.

Jeff Hao


I think it is great that you are thinking outside the box and trying to think of new ways to create written music so that it is easier to understand. The staff as we know it today evolved over centuries from scribbles and dots above words to the scribbles and dots we see now on the backdrop of lines and spaces. The end result is something like a map. We see lines and dots on a map, which can get us from point A to B, but looking at that map is not like being at point B, looking at the trees, the people, the buildings and roads surrounding that area. It is only a means to get there. Such is the nature of the written page of music. It in itself is not music, and even by playing exactly what is written does not create music, just as looking at a map does not tell you what Point B looks like. It's just a way to get you there. Then when you are there, musically speaking, you can see what the music is about for yourself.

Much of any language is built upon perhaps inefficiencies due to the natural progression of spoken word to some semblance of written representation. And then every once in a while a movement comes along that "thinks this is better/more efficient"...look at the LOLs, ATMs, AFKs, BRBs, IDKs, etc. that have invaded the English written language in chat rooms and text messages. Language itself has actually "devolved" and becoming less complicated, but because of it simpler nature, it cannot convey nearly as much description as in former eras. Go back and read Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island" or Charles Dickens' "A Tale of Two Cities" and you will quickly see my point. Perhaps there is something to the deciphering of code in written music as it is, just like reading literature that actually makes you think about it. There is an art in itself to both of these, and something which makes the process of learning it that much more meaningful to the person who puts forth the effort.

Of course, the easiest method to relate music to another person is by rote. If you're going for efficient, why not throw out written music altogether (Devil's advocate here :P)?
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#1174387 - 04/04/09 01:25 PM Re: reading music [Re: Morodiene]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Thorium,

I was not addressing my comments to anyone in particular, it was a general consideration being made. There is a system, it's name is theory.

Theory written is different than theory well applied and in proper structure according to the user's immediate needs and progress to date.

I am joyful that I've brought myself through the different systems of music and understand their presentations and can use them in my teaching adeptly.

There theories in music education are so vital to learning to paly the piano. One cannot ignore theory as existing. Whether they get to the point of finding and using everything they need is something else.

I'm trying to be supportive in that anyone applying themselves seriously to music study with a teacher who has the word "mastery" in their vocabularly, and the teaching tools and personality to get you there is worth investing in.

When I teach and see breakthrough in students, it is the most satisfying experience for me. Because of successful communication and transferrance of information that makes a difference in someone's progress and bringing their capacity closer to the forefront so they can apply and use what they learn confidently and competently.

I note that there is a little of disparagement in your posting here, and directed to others, and at me too. You can be safe with my ego, I basically have a giving and generous viewpoint meant to encourage others. I'm not new to this forum, but when I started (June 2007) this was among the first forums I'd ever posted to. I feel comfortable here. I learn from reading and participating here myself, and I know that I contribute to others who are learning at whatever level they are working. Feedback tells me so.

Anyone who has the dream can achieve success in piano depending on their capacity and the amount of time and effort they invest in in.

Just wanted to set things straight here with you as to my intentions. If I am out of line, all someone needs to do is complain to the moderator and he will set me straight. I don't wish to take advantage of my privileges here.

Perhaps you might like to say more about yourself here as the opportunity presents itself as I see you are a recent new member here.

My "shingle" is all in my mind here - as I don't have anything for sale expect for people who are in my area and then only if we get past the inquiry and interview stage amically and enter into lessons together.

Just yesterday, I was so very fortunate to meet one of the posters who had just moved to my area - she is the first poster here in PW that I have met. We enjoyed our time together and of course, it went to the piano keyboard in a very natural way. Two hours of sharing ideas were very inspiring to me as much as they were to her. As an older person these days, I so much enjoyed meeting a young person, 1/3rd my age, who is teaching piano and interested in continuing her piano study for her own enjoyment and edification.

You know, Thorium, attitudes go a long way when we are on the path of learning and enjoyment.

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#1174394 - 04/04/09 01:37 PM Re: reading music [Re: Betty Patnude]
Thorium Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/29/09
Posts: 40
Loc: Norway
Betty,

I think your attitude is praiseworthy, and you seem like a wonderful teacher and a wonderful person. I'm sad you think I've been disparaging to others here. The only person I've had a problem with is Jeff Hao, whose first post - which was summarily deleted - was CLEARLY an ad for his business. I felt he was trying to take advantage of people struggling to pick up the piano (this is after all the Adult Beginners Forum), and that really ruffled my feathers. I generally try to be nice and encouraging.

I hope you're having a super weekend,
Thor
_________________________
Working on:
F�r Elise (all of it, ugh)
Prelude in C, BWV 846
Michael Nyman - The Heart Asks Pleasure First (great finger exercise!)

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#1174426 - 04/04/09 02:47 PM Re: reading music [Re: Thorium]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
So far, so good, on the weekend, Thor. You too. Weekends are precious to most of us! And, we are lucky enough to have sun today after a very bleak wintery winter in Puget Sound.

Things are looking up!

I haven't written you off, the word disparaging was maybe a little heavy, so I'm sorry about that. See, I'm not perfect!

Yes, I agree with the 1st post that was deleted being a little self serving. I do think it goes better if we get acquainted with people and also introduce ourselves first as first time posters, and a little about who you are and what you do.

I don't see that alternative as easy to use at all, however, for some it might work, but it's not going to have an effect on the standard of the music staff now in use. He has a right to post here as much as anyone else, and I hope Mr. Hao has a lot more to contribute to the forum as we are all learning and spinning ideas together.

It's the place to be!

Betty

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#1174434 - 04/04/09 03:01 PM Re: reading music [Re: Morodiene]
Strings & Wood Offline


Gold member until Dec. 2012


Registered: 05/22/08
Posts: 1838
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
Originally Posted By: Jeff Hao
Because of the design of the Grand Staff, reading music has been made unnecessarily difficult. That is my well researched personal opinion.

It is so well researched, that I have gone on to invent an alternative "staff" (US Patented) for adult piano learners.

But the tradition of Grand Staff is so dominating, that people just accept it. But music scores really do not have to be that complicated.

Of course, I am just talking about the part about identifying the music notes with their corresponding piano keys. Many people find this part (Grand Staff, the key signatures and accidentals) so daunting that they just give up. There is, of course, more to that in "music reading", e.g. length of note, dynamics, expressions, techniques, etc.

Jeff Hao


I think it is great that you are thinking outside the box and trying to think of new ways to create written music so that it is easier to understand. The staff as we know it today evolved over centuries from scribbles and dots above words to the scribbles and dots we see now on the backdrop of lines and spaces. The end result is something like a map. We see lines and dots on a map, which can get us from point A to B, but looking at that map is not like being at point B, looking at the trees, the people, the buildings and roads surrounding that area. It is only a means to get there. Such is the nature of the written page of music. It in itself is not music, and even by playing exactly what is written does not create music, just as looking at a map does not tell you what Point B looks like. It's just a way to get you there. Then when you are there, musically speaking, you can see what the music is about for yourself.

Much of any language is built upon perhaps inefficiencies due to the natural progression of spoken word to some semblance of written representation. And then every once in a while a movement comes along that "thinks this is better/more efficient"...look at the LOLs, ATMs, AFKs, BRBs, IDKs, etc. that have invaded the English written language in chat rooms and text messages. Language itself has actually "devolved" and becoming less complicated, but because of it simpler nature, it cannot convey nearly as much description as in former eras. Go back and read Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island" or Charles Dickens' "A Tale of Two Cities" and you will quickly see my point. Perhaps there is something to the deciphering of code in written music as it is, just like reading literature that actually makes you think about it. There is an art in itself to both of these, and something which makes the process of learning it that much more meaningful to the person who puts forth the effort.

Of course, the easiest method to relate music to another person is by rote. If you're going for efficient, why not throw out written music altogether (Devil's advocate here :P)?


Well said Morodiene!
Whets my appetite to revisit those books smile




Quote:
I wish I could mingle with people having trouble with reading and understanding Grand Staff. I could get you to an accomplished readed state in a short time period. You would own the piano keyboard and the grand staff and carry it within your being from now on.


If I lived near- I would offer lunch... it is a difficult knot for me. However, the more I read and study theory the more nimble the fingers.
_________________________







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#1174587 - 04/04/09 08:22 PM Re: reading music [Re: Strings & Wood]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Carl Mc,

You were offering lunch? I'll put that in my "chips to collect on" notebook in case I'm ever in Colorado! How about that?

I'm glad you liked my quote....you keep working on the theory and the nimble fingers - it's actually the only way that I know you can get the knots out. Seeking and doing.

Morodiene, what say we do lunch with Carl sometime?

Best wishes!

Betty

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#1174612 - 04/04/09 09:27 PM Re: reading music [Re: Thorium]
Jeff Hao Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/03/09
Posts: 177
Loc: Hong Kong
Originally Posted By: Thorium
I'm sad you think I've been disparaging to others here. The only person I've had a problem with is Jeff Hao, whose first post - which was summarily deleted - was CLEARLY an ad for his business. I felt he was trying to take advantage of people struggling to pick up the piano (this is after all the Adult Beginners Forum), and that really ruffled my feathers. I generally try to be nice and encouraging.


Let me first say a big fresh good Sunday morning to you guys over the ocean. After catching some sleep to rest my tired nerves (my working week spilled into Sat), I now clearly see why Thorium, a nice person I am sure, is annoyed with me, and I look forward to being friend with you, and all the regular contributors here - Betty, Morodienne, Carl Mc ...

Well, I am not expecting you to suddenly like me just because of my sweet talking. I am sure you will accept me (or at least stop disliking me) after you hear more of me. Betty, thanks for reminding me to "ease" into the group with self-introduction, etc. Yes I overlooked the fact that we cannot see each other's faces and expressions and we are all user names to each other first time round.

Thorium is right. What brought me here is the intention to promote my stuff. If promotion is (rightly) a dirty word here, I would settle for exposing it - for fair comments, including criticism.

Come to think about it, this promoter is perhaps somewhat forgivable. He is not a reseller on the web. He is acting/laboring on his belief. It is a "business", but when can he actually make money? Perhaps one day he will make some money. If he does, does he deserve it? Perhaps he will never make money. He would deserve that because it proves that his product is no good. But is it really no good?

I will not go on to talk about my product unless people are interested.

But back to Thorium's "misconception" (I deliberately provoked, please count on the good spirit behind it), you said that the key signatures (made up of sharps and flats) and the accidentals (sharps and flats and cancellations) have some sort of unique function (e.g. stressing certain notes to be played in different way) ... I cannot repeat your comments word by word.

This is not true. Sharps and flats only exist because the five-lined staff (the lines and spaces) only provide proper seats for the white keys (i.e. the scale notes in the C major and A minor Keys). All the black keys must "sit on the arm-rest", and, therefore, they can only be identified in relation to their adjacent white keys. A# simple means "black to the right of A", Ab simple means "black to the left of A".

Because the scale notes in all Keys other than C major/A minor involve one or more black key, we put a "Key Signature" in the front to "premanently" vary a line or a space, to save the number of accidentals in the score.

That's all there is about sharps and flats and key signature. But they confuse a lot of students. And even if you understand all of it, it still make reading music a struggle, unless you went through the years of training to get the reflexes, also helped by hard memorization of the scales of different keys (which blacks are involved).

Anyway, this is the beginning of our acquaintance. I hope to have more discussions like this. And I am happy to get helped with my "misconception" :-). I am sure I have many.

Best regards,
Jeff
_________________________
*****
Translating piano music into the "adult-friendly" Hao Staff

http://haostaff.com - FREE sheets download (Grand and Hao Staff)

Over 100 most well-known pieces of all genres, and growing fast
... make it one of your FREE online resources

http://facebook.com/haostaffpiano

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#1174702 - 04/05/09 02:24 AM Re: reading music [Re: Jeff Hao]
buck2202 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/06/09
Posts: 216
Loc: Cleveland, OH
Originally Posted By: Jeff Hao
But back to Thorium's "misconception" (I deliberately provoked, please count on the good spirit behind it), you said that the key signatures (made up of sharps and flats) and the accidentals (sharps and flats and cancellations) have some sort of unique function (e.g. stressing certain notes to be played in different way) ... I cannot repeat your comments word by word.

This is not true. Sharps and flats only exist because the five-lined staff (the lines and spaces) only provide proper seats for the white keys (i.e. the scale notes in the C major and A minor Keys). All the black keys must "sit on the arm-rest", and, therefore, they can only be identified in relation to their adjacent white keys. A# simple means "black to the right of A", Ab simple means "black to the left of A".

Because the scale notes in all Keys other than C major/A minor involve one or more black key, we put a "Key Signature" in the front to "premanently" vary a line or a space, to save the number of accidentals in the score.

That's all there is about sharps and flats and key signature. But they confuse the "H" out of the majority of student body. And even if you understand all of it, it still make reading music a living "H", unless you went through the years of machanical training.


I suppose I'm not the best person to write the first response to this, as I've only been playing for a about 2 years and still struggle to sight-read, but this seems a bit off. It always seemed to me that the ability to present so much information in so little space was part of the elegance of the grand staff/key signature system. While your staff is easy to understand, 88 lines/spaces certainly isn't succinct. Couldn't the sheer magnitude of your staff slow down sight reading until a person has practiced adequately?

The key-signature of a written piece isn't necessarily related to that piece's actual key, but when they are related, I think that the point you're attributing to Thorium stands. When a composer (at least a classical composer) momentarily steps outside the key of a composition or switches keys entirely, it's frequently for some artistic reason. Again, the key of a piece isn't necessarily that piece's "key signature" when written, but using and learning key signatures does help to establish the music-theory knowledge necessary to successfully interpret those cases. (note: I can't find a post in this thread where Thorium suggests that accidentals outside the key-signature are meant to be interpreted differently...maybe it was in another thread?)

You might be interested to look at this link to see a variety of ways that people have tried to eliminate accidentals. A common shortcoming seems to be that when you try to represent all of the notes in a chromatic scale without accidentals, you end up with something unwieldy. But many of them are interesting from a theoretical standpoint (different intervals always look different when written on chromatic staffs).

Do you have any experience teaching with your notation? I imagine that first-day apprehension would be minimized, but I'm curious to know what kind of progress a person could ultimately make using your staff, as well as what kind of progress you'd expect a person to make. Obviously a serious student (or even an ambitious beginner) will want to learn accidentals, key signatures, and the grand staff simply because the repertoire is written that way. And forgive me, but when so much music is available for free, and when there are so many different versions of classical standards out there (different editors, urtexts, etc.), limiting oneself to paying for the music that you yourself convert seems short-sighted. What's your intended audience?

Anyway, so that this post isn't completely off-topic...I think that reading any system of musical notation will take lots of practice. As well it should...it's more than hitting the right notes. It's another language entirely. All you can do is regularly play things that are unfamiliar to you. Work your way through pieces that aren't at the limit of your technique, read music away from the piano, make flash cards, practice, practice, practice. None of us are born knowing how to speak or read a language, but we all learn.

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#1174703 - 04/05/09 02:24 AM Re: reading music [Re: Jeff Hao]
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
Hi Jeff,

Take it from me ... nobody on this Forum will follow a new doctrine on keyboard notation ... IMHO, once anybody has been brainwashed into the current traditional system, it appears to be impossible to get off the bus ... but encouraging to hear of a Hong Kong/ Beijing educationist putting forward thoughts on the subject which are "outside of the box."

As a little boost to the direction of your ideas ...

1. Logically (in the year 2009) the C to C stave should accommodate 12 equally spaced notes ... (each a semitone apart in keeping with our acceptance since the days of Bach of the well-tempered scale)

2. Logically the 12 notes should be named to follow a familiar numerical series (as for time)... (6 WHOLE-TONES with 6 half tones).

3. Logically the duration of notes should be indicated by the familiar format of a proportional horizontal line.

4. Logically notation should form a picture of music for instant playing.

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