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#1440717 - 05/21/10 03:18 AM Intervallic Reading vs. Note Recognition
AZNpiano Offline
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Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5278
Loc: Orange County, CA
I now have a couple of beginners and I want to experiment with different approaches. Previously, I spent almost the entire time in note recognition (letter names) and very very little time in intervallic reading. I am beginning to see how intervallic reading works. In some cases, they work better than note recognition alone:

1. excessive ledger lines
2. notes outside the usual "hand positions"
3. reading in other clefs (alto, tenor)

For #3, I wish my professor in college had taught us intervallic reading. We had to sight sing in different clefs, and all I was doing was transposing in my head on the fly. With intervallic reading, it's much easier to read other clefs.

Is it better to learn intervallic reading before reading notes?
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#1440736 - 05/21/10 04:49 AM Re: Intervallic Reading vs. Note Recognition [Re: AZNpiano]
Smallpiano Offline
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Registered: 04/14/10
Posts: 270
Loc: California
AZN, very good post with good question here.
Recently I come to realize that both approach is equally important. When I detected a student is weak in note recognition, I will emphasis it with some flash card. With flash card, they cannot relate the notes with interval.
If I detected a student is weak in intervallic, I have them to play a five-finger position in all A to G position with ten notes written out on the page so that they can relate the interval. At the end, it is hard for me to tell which method they are using, and I think they are using both which makes me happy.
I am not good in alto and tenor clef and those clefs are not in my curriculum for my students.
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#1440748 - 05/21/10 05:38 AM Re: Intervallic Reading vs. Note Recognition [Re: Smallpiano]
ll Offline
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Registered: 11/14/08
Posts: 1101
What about using intervals TO teach note recognition?

Start with one line, and teach the letters going up alphabetically - C, D, E, etc (note recognition). Show that these are seconds, and how they relate to each other as LINE-SPACE or SPACE-LINE (intervals). Stress the distance over the staff for the moment.

Then start with another line and show skips in thirds - D, F, A - as SPACE-SPACE or LINE-LINE. Show that these are thirds and see if the student can become as comfortable saying these out loud as they are with saying the seconds (which is simple to any child who knows their alphabet).

Continue on with fourths, fifths, etc etc etc, emphasizing the distance and knowing the notes out loud (which will help link the intervals aurally).

This would help the student by not only learning the intervals, but by knowing later the intervallic alphabet as well. Starting on a different note for each interval will help the student recognize that it's not just off one root note and it will expand their note recognition on the staff. If they see a C anywhere on the page, they'd know that the note that could exist two lines away, for example (let's use middle C), they'd know it was a 5th and G because they learned them both together in relation to each other.

As this is happening, point out the landmark notes - low C, bass C, bass F, middle C, treble G, treble C, and high C - as a point of reference. I think recognizing these are way more important instantly than every note.

I hope that made sense. Excuse me if it didn't, it's 2:30 am...!

Regarding non-treble/bass clef reading: include small exercises in these clefs so students will see that other clefs *do* exist, and that reading them is no different (or, rather, no more difficult) than what they're used to doing. This will force them to read by intervals. You could also try more musicianship such as SATB reading or choral accompaniment, though I know most students would probably dread *extra* during the lessons! As you mentioned, the intervallic reading would be helpful as well.

If I *had* to choose one over the other, I'd rather know intervals first.
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#1440812 - 05/21/10 08:09 AM Re: Intervallic Reading vs. Note Recognition [Re: ll]
landorrano Offline
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Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2443
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: ll


As this is happening, point out the landmark notes - low C, bass C, bass F, middle C, treble G, treble C, and high C - as a point of reference. I think recognizing these are way more important instantly than every note.


I completely agree. (Add a lower F and a higher G.)

ALthough I don't think that the "landmark notes" are to be pointed out as other things are happenning. To the contrary, start with the landmark notes and only the landmark notes. And don't go further until the student knows them perfectly, even if it takes a few weeks.

All of the memorization by lines and spaces, or by "every good boy does fine" is, in my humble opinion, for the dogs.

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#1440857 - 05/21/10 09:53 AM Re: Intervallic Reading vs. Note Recognition [Re: ll]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
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Registered: 03/18/06
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Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
I learned note reading the old fashion way, and when, as a young teacher, I learned about intervallic reading, it was a revelation! Of course, advanced readers do not read note by note, just as we do not read English or any printed language letter by letter, but rather, in patterns. Most two and three and even four letter words, we recognize as a whole, and that allows us to read faster than we can speak. In music, reading intervallicly allows us to read ahead of what we're playing.

Most contemporary methods use a blend these days. Teaching guide posts, F, C, and G, then bass C and treble C (or what ever names are given), low G and high F, allows the student to quickly find their way around the grand staff. Eventually, students should be able to quickly identify the fill-in notes, so some drill may be in order. I will frequently quiz students on the roots of chords, either blocked or broken, which is, in effect, an exercise in note identification.

Just as a WAG, I feel about 90% of my students learn note names without resorting to flash cards.

However, all that said, with my very young student, I am using flash cards to insure she knows each and every note name quickly, so we can transition to reading from the staff without problems.
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#1440858 - 05/21/10 09:54 AM Re: Intervallic Reading vs. Note Recognition [Re: landorrano]
Minniemay Offline
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Registered: 06/07/09
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Loc: CA
There are several elementary piano courses that work at developing systematic intervallic reading in relationship to landmarks. Music Tree, Celebrate Piano and Music Pathways all follow this approach.
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#1440867 - 05/21/10 10:14 AM Re: Intervallic Reading vs. Note Recognition [Re: Minniemay]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
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Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
I have them learn all the on staff notes first, then we move into intervals. I have worksheets that they do to speed things up. Sight reading comes a lot faster if they can read those chords and arpeggios by intervals rather than single notes. Especially like you said, with those pesky high/low ledger lines!
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#1440907 - 05/21/10 11:27 AM Re: Intervallic Reading vs. Note Recognition [Re: AZNpiano]
keystring Online   content
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Quote:
For #3, I wish my professor in college had taught us intervallic reading. We had to sight sing in different clefs, and all I was doing was transposing in my head on the fly. With intervallic reading, it's much easier to read other clefs.

Just in case the experience is useful:

The first time round I only had Solfege as a child, where in some grade the teacher pointed to a note on the vertical do-re-mi chart and we'd sing it. Essentially we were doing interval patterns diatonically. When seeing the first piano music, I only knew where to find the tonic and when I figured out the notes I was, in essence, reading intervallically. My ear led and the spaces on the piano keys followed. I.e. if the music had an Alberti bass of C,G,E,G then I heard that as "do so mi so" = up 5, down to 3 etc. If it was in F major, F,D,A,D it was still the same thing, though "fa" sounded funny until I toggled down a half step to Bb.

When learning to read piano music recently I told myself the notes out loud as A,B,C and I also paid attention visually to how they went "up 5, down 3" as spaces. The upshot was that for tenor and alto clefs I could do the same thing. I did not transpose mentally. For those clefs I also used the C clefs as landmarks for middle C. By then I knew that 3 lines up = a fifth. I discovered that I could read these clefs by accident, while reviewing some theory which had an open score for a strings quartet, and wondering if I could sight read it. I was rather blown away that I could.

I think that the "landmarks" of G and F clefs marking those notes are very helpful.

Apparently in his letter to a young student, Czerny also advised her to write out short passages every day, and write the names of notes underneath. My learning to read was helped by the written work, including noticing the spacing of chord notes (thirds, fifths, seconds).

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#1441687 - 05/22/10 03:10 PM Re: Intervallic Reading vs. Note Recognition [Re: landorrano]
ll Offline
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Registered: 11/14/08
Posts: 1101
Originally Posted By: landorrano
I completely agree. (Add a lower F and a higher G.)

ALthough I don't think that the "landmark notes" are to be pointed out as other things are happenning. To the contrary, start with the landmark notes and only the landmark notes. And don't go further until the student knows them perfectly, even if it takes a few weeks.

All of the memorization by lines and spaces, or by "every good boy does fine" is, in my humble opinion, for the dogs.


I didn't mean teach them ALL right away as everything is happening. I meant, use them as the basis on which to teach intervals - which will not only show them the guide notes, but also help acquire quicker learning of note recognition.

And, of course, there are other guide notes... I was just going with the basic ones. Teach too many guide notes and that defeats the purpose. The ones I listed were what I learned were the 'standard' ones.
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#1441698 - 05/22/10 03:39 PM Re: Intervallic Reading vs. Note Recognition [Re: ll]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
Personally I only teach memorisation of the spaces, plus middle C. It's very little to learn, but it covers every line within just one note. By witholding the others, the student is forced to start thinking relatively from the start.
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#1441720 - 05/22/10 04:30 PM Re: Intervallic Reading vs. Note Recognition [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
keystring Online   content
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Registered: 12/11/07
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Loc: Canada
Quote:
Personally I only teach memorisation of the spaces, plus middle C.

When someone learns that spaces have names, what happens if they run into an alto or tenor clef? whome

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#1441748 - 05/22/10 05:47 PM Re: Intervallic Reading vs. Note Recognition [Re: keystring]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
I don't see that it would cause harm. In any clef, at least one note has to be read as an absolute. To only compare to middle C could be tricky. There have to be some absolutes, to become fluent. I don't think think it would be a problem, any more than knowing the treble clef makes the bass clef harder.
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#1874363 - 04/05/12 08:26 PM Re: Intervallic Reading vs. Note Recognition [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
dfm Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/05/12
Posts: 2
Loc: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
Resurrecting an old thread here:

Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi
Personally I only teach memorisation of the spaces, plus middle C.


Why the spaces? Why not the lines? There's only one more line than space; it would be a tad more symmetric with where middle C is; and should you ever want to move on to the Tenor, Alto or Soprano clefs, it's not even an additional note to learn since you get middle C for free.

Is there some reason for preferring the spaces to lines that I'm not grokking?

Thanks!
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#1874385 - 04/05/12 09:20 PM Re: Intervallic Reading vs. Note Recognition [Re: AZNpiano]
Ann in Kentucky Offline
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Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2643
Loc: Kentucky
dfm,
I see this was your first post.

Teaching materials I've used start with guide notes middle C, Bass F, middle G...then later adding space note C's. Another method promotes memorizing all line notes. I don't think teaching just space notes is at all common.


I like your Jorge Luis Borges quote. I've written down the name and intend to look for his poetry in the library.
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#1874476 - 04/06/12 01:56 AM Re: Intervallic Reading vs. Note Recognition [Re: AZNpiano]
Gary D. Offline
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Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4649
Loc: South Florida
One quick point: this thread is not about recognition. It is about memorization.

Recognition involves matching. My young students use my keyboard chart, and I work with them along with a parent, with both the parent and I matching from beginning music. If there is a second line G, we move pointers from that G, on a page, to the key that matches it. Behind each key is the letter name and a picture of the note in a long staff.

Memorization is learning to use that recognition along with memorizing those links.

There are two completely different things going on. Actually three:

1) Mapping the keyboard, thus knowing the name of any white key.
2) Recognizing where any note is, in either clef, by matching. This requires logic and concept and works both for individual notes and for the relationship between notes (intervals)
3) Memorization, the process used to link the circles on the page with the corresponding keys.

Usually it is step three that causes brain freezes, and that is precisely where reading breaks down for my transfer students.

Even my youngest students understand perfectly what I have just presented, and their parents totally get it.

For some reason other teachers don't. I don't know why.
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#1874480 - 04/06/12 02:04 AM Re: Intervallic Reading vs. Note Recognition [Re: AZNpiano]
Nikolas Online   content
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Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 4994
Loc: Europe
For the purpose of piano teaching note recognition works in most cases until somewhat advanced piano works... Then the time comes to introduce intervallic recognition. I think that younger students have more trouble counting the spaces than simply learning the notes on the staff. If anything goes above the staff then the counting starts... :-/
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#1874513 - 04/06/12 05:46 AM Re: Intervallic Reading vs. Note Recognition [Re: AZNpiano]
Ben Crosland Offline
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Registered: 03/11/10
Posts: 417
Loc: Worcester, UK
Over the last 18 months or so, I have focused far more on intervallic reading than recognition with my beginners.

Results, so far, are very encouraging.

I have also ditched pnemonics altogether, opting instead for the following mantra:

"Spaces are FACE in the treble, and ACE in the bass. With a G on top."

This is proving to be very effective in teaching grand staff note-reading. The seemingly awkward "With a G on top" appears to really help it stick in the mind, and immediately provides an important note that they can recognise instantly.
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#1874735 - 04/06/12 03:43 PM Re: Intervallic Reading vs. Note Recognition [Re: Nikolas]
Gary D. Offline
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Registered: 08/30/08
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Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Nikolas
For the purpose of piano teaching note recognition works in most cases until somewhat advanced piano works... Then the time comes to introduce intervallic recognition. I think that younger students have more trouble counting the spaces than simply learning the notes on the staff. If anything goes above the staff then the counting starts... :-/

Nicholas,

I start off with the idea of intervals from about week two or three. I start with "The Snake Dance", and with an Eb in the RH, to immediately get the concept of flats across. The droning 5th, LH, skips a line.

Then I do "The Spider Song", after doing some drills on five-finger positions that move at random (no fingering), stressing finding the first note but then following the pattern. That covers 2nds. "The Spider Song" uses FG, EG, DG and CG in the left hand, so that takes care of 2nds, 3rds, 4ths and 5ths. I do not stress the names, but I do stress the distance the notes are from each other.

Then after that I teach three simple, stock chords: C E G, C F A, B F G: C, F/A, G7/B. But I don't yet give them names. C E G already teaches the concept of three lines in row, thus a triad. So THAT concept has been introduced.

Those three chords give me "When the Saints Go Marching In" and immediately show adults that they are not going to be playing music only for tots.

Shortly after that I teach kids how to play these major chords, in this order:

B, C, D, E, F, G, A, B. I really stress the B chord, since it is the "odd ball", and this stresses that ALL 5ths are the same color (white and white OR black and black) except for B F# and Bb F. That covers all 5ths, and it really pounds home the idea of triads being linked to three lines or three spaces.

So: why wait? Why wait at all? Without seeing the patterns, note-reading is excruciatingly slow and leads to the necessity of memorizing in order to play anothing right - deadly for anyone not solely playing by ear.


Edited by Gary D. (04/06/12 03:45 PM)
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#1874756 - 04/06/12 04:19 PM Re: Intervallic Reading vs. Note Recognition [Re: AZNpiano]
AZNpiano Offline
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Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5278
Loc: Orange County, CA
Thanks for digging out this old thread so I can answer myself:

Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Is it better to learn intervallic reading before reading notes?


Absolutely yes! Of course, every student learns at a different pace. Most of the "beginners" alluded to in the first post are still studying piano and thriving. One is playing Kuhlau sonatinas and just passed CM Level 3. Another is halfway through Alfred Premier Level 2B and preparing for CM Level 2 next year. Another is done with all 3 books of MFPA. Another (the slowest of the bunch) is halfway through the new Helen Marlais series book 1 and just recently passed CM Level 1.

Every single one of these kids started with intervallic reading. I introduce letter names at different times (depending on the book the student has and the cognitive development of the student) but all of them made smooth transitions to letter names without a hitch.

All the while, I avoided the pitfall of rote learning or the "copy me" method of teaching. All these kids are sight reading spectacularly.

The transfer nightmares that I got BEFORE these kids started piano are still stagnating with one bad habit after another. I did try to "start over" with these transfers, but I ran into much resistance from parents who can't believe 5 years of piano lessons amounted to nothing but a host of bad habits and from students who just keep on going back to their old (wrong) ways of learning.
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#1874766 - 04/06/12 04:46 PM Re: Intervallic Reading vs. Note Recognition [Re: AZNpiano]
keystring Online   content
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AZN, a couple of questions. Chiefly, if a student reads intervallically, he still has to start on a first note. So is there *some* note recognition so that if you are moving up a third from G, you know how to start from G? Do note names get integrated in soonish? When do you introduce keyboard topograph (i.e. D between two black keys type of thing)?

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#1874771 - 04/06/12 04:51 PM Re: Intervallic Reading vs. Note Recognition [Re: AZNpiano]
AZNpiano Offline
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Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5278
Loc: Orange County, CA
I use the black keys to start. I guess "middle C" is the only reference point. I do use the keyboard topography method to teach notes. Some method books start with black keys, and then go to C-D-E. But at these early stages there's usually a picture of the keys on the page so the student will know where to put her hands.
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#1874777 - 04/06/12 04:59 PM Re: Intervallic Reading vs. Note Recognition [Re: Ben Crosland]
Gary D. Offline
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Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4649
Loc: South Florida
I've totally ditched mnemonics too. None of them have ever worked for my students, and they did not work for me...
Originally Posted By: Ben Crosland
Over the last 18 months or so, I have focused far more on intervallic reading than recognition with my beginners.

Results, so far, are very encouraging.

I have also ditched pnemonics altogether, opting instead for the following mantra:

"Spaces are FACE in the treble, and ACE in the bass. With a G on top."

This is proving to be very effective in teaching grand staff note-reading. The seemingly awkward "With a G on top" appears to really help it stick in the mind, and immediately provides an important note that they can recognise instantly.

The only objection I have to what you are doing, which is not really an "objection" but a point of logic, is that FACE and ACE are directional. If you are trying to figure out the top space E in the treble, you have to "count" up F, then A, then C, then E. It is slow. To get to top space G in the bass clef, which is a rather important notes for beginners, you have to "climb" to get there.

One of the earliest pieces I teach is Happy Birthday, in C, so when the melody leaps up from second line G to G over the top line, there would be no way to get there.

I reserve ACE for the leger lines, but I mostly point from my chart, which every student has, to the keys those higher and lower notes go to.


Edited by Gary D. (04/06/12 05:01 PM)
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#1874878 - 04/06/12 08:31 PM Re: Intervallic Reading vs. Note Recognition [Re: Gary D.]
Ben Crosland Offline
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Registered: 03/11/10
Posts: 417
Loc: Worcester, UK
Originally Posted By: Gary D.

The only objection I have to what you are doing, which is not really an "objection" but a point of logic, is that FACE and ACE are directional. If you are trying to figure out the top space E in the treble, you have to "count" up F, then A, then C, then E. It is slow.


Not really. Maybe for the first minute or two, but it doesn't take too much effort to point out that the last letter of "face" is "E", and that they needn't keep counting up to the top every time, and the top G in the bass clef is learned straight away.

Anyway, this isn't the only way I teach note recognition - rather, it's more of a last resort that they can refer to if they encounter brain-freeze.
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#1874921 - 04/06/12 10:09 PM Re: Intervallic Reading vs. Note Recognition [Re: Ben Crosland]
Gary D. Offline
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Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4649
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Ben Crosland

Anyway, this isn't the only way I teach note recognition - rather, it's more of a last resort that they can refer to if they encounter brain-freeze.

Brain freeze - got it! So long as the crutch, whatever it is, eventually gets thrown away, I think it's good. smile
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