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#1473604 - 07/13/10 04:01 PM Note names or intervals ?
dmsynck Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/10/10
Posts: 91
Loc: Dallas, Texas
As a beginner pianist (almost 8 months now), I was told by my teacher that thinking in terms of intervals rather than note names is much more expedient when reading and playing music. If this is true, how does one go about breaking the mental habit of thinking "That is a C, that is an F, etc" and instead see it as "Up a third, down a fifth, etc" ?

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#1473681 - 07/13/10 06:05 PM Re: Note names or intervals ? [Re: dmsynck]
Studio Joe Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/28/07
Posts: 1803
Loc: Decatur, Texas
It’s easier for me to think in scale degrees relative to the root of the chord. If I see C, E, G it is a C chord made with degrees 1, 3, 5 of the C scale. If I see E, G, C, it is still a C chord with the same scale degrees only in a different order. I don’t need to think about intervalic values, or that E, C, G, is made with a minor 3rd plus a major 4th.

I think if you learn the notes of the chords, you can easily recognize them in any inversion or voicing.
Joe Whitehead ------ Texas Trax

#1473760 - 07/13/10 08:14 PM Re: Note names or intervals ? [Re: dmsynck]
Crit Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/02/09
Posts: 88
Loc: North Carolina, US
Originally Posted By: dmsynck
As a beginner pianist (almost 8 months now), I was told by my teacher that thinking in terms of intervals rather than note names is much more expedient when reading and playing music. If this is true, how does one go about breaking the mental habit of thinking "That is a C, that is an F, etc" and instead see it as "Up a third, down a fifth, etc" ?

Don't you need to be able to do both? You can see "up a third", but you also have to know which note on the keyboard to start from. The first note is a "C" and the next is up a third and then up another third, etc.

#1473874 - 07/14/10 12:11 AM Re: Note names or intervals ? [Re: Crit]
TromboneAl Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/12/04
Posts: 796
Loc: Northern, Northern California
I talk about that in my blog (NOTE: I don't advertise anything or promote anything on that blog -- I just share my experience).

At one point I talked about how reading intervals is good, but after one year, this is what I said:

Remember in my earlier posts I talked about seeing intervals versus notes, things like that? Well forget it, that's all BS. You just sight-read a lot and you'll improve. I'm not seeing intervals, I just see the music on the page and am increasingly able to quickly convert that into movements of my hands and fingers.
- Al

My Book: Becoming a Great Sight-Reader -- or Not!
My Blog: The Year of Piano Sight-Reading

#1473892 - 07/14/10 12:34 AM Re: Note names or intervals ? [Re: TromboneAl]
Day Dreamer Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/23/10
Posts: 32
Well. I am a beginner myself but I can assure you that you need to do BOTH. You need know where to start by identifying the note names. From there you can think about the next notes in a intervalic relationship. Your fingers must stretch or span to respond to the chunk accordingly. That gives you a good start to familiarize with the patterns. You need enough repetitions to instantly play them without thinking too much. By then, thinking of notes or intervals ain't important anymore. It's like reading english newspaper. You need to know the words beforehand in order to understand the passage. You brain will stumble and stop to process if you encounter a new word. You would need to learn to understand the new word.


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