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#1997077 - 12/09/12 08:00 PM Need help reading music, again.
Mohannad Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/12/12
Posts: 79
I initially had a problem figuring out the notes and working out the rhythm when attempting to read. I used Brian Lucas' sight reading book's method and some online games to memorize the notes, so now I can fairly quickly identify the notes in treble and base clefs, and I did some rhythm exercises to help me work out the rhythm quickly. Now I've been going through loads and loads of scores of very easy sheet music, but I don't think I am progressing, I manage to enter this state of flow sometimes for a measure or two where I can see, feel and hear the pitch and the rhythm but then suddenly I make a mistake, and I want to continue just as every person has told me- don't stop, but suddenly the whole score again looks like a bunch of lines and scribbles and I have no idea what I am doing. I occasionally enter this state of flow where I feel like I am progressing, but this rarely happens. I failed at using a metronome (online metronome) to help me not stop, but even if I set it to a low bpm, I feel like I'me being chased by something and then I just end up banging the beats on the keyboard with both hands and watching as I go through measures and measures and then poof, the score is done. I have been learning to play by ear for about 4 months and that seems to work like magic, for example, I can improvise every single Christmas carol I recognize on the spot. Sometimes, I find a highly simplified score of some very common song and I attempt to read it and then I realize that I am improvising the melody and looking at the background whole note chords. I really want to learn to read and get into classical, I have made progress, a lot of progress in reading, but now I am stuck, how do I 'keep going' and ignore missed notes. I am so used to playing by ear and improvising where I can slow down when I'm note sure what chord is next and play around here and there because there is no such thing as a mistake. I need something to help me, maybe tips from people who were in similar situation. Thank you in advance.

- One thing I forgot to mention, another sort of problem, I can't have heard the piece before trying to read it, because I will subliminally improvise the melody. I printed the sheets for Minuet in G, this is what happens, I read only the first note and then I improvise the whole melody, and look at the treble to see which notes to play with my left hand, then I stop at a part where the left hand does something a little complicated, and then I do it slowly and then done, it is memorized, the whole sheet is useless.


Edited by Mohannad (12/09/12 08:09 PM)

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#1997104 - 12/09/12 09:03 PM Re: Need help reading music, again. [Re: Mohannad]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12225
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: Mohannad
I really want to learn to read and get into classical, I have made progress, a lot of progress in reading, but now I am stuck, how do I 'keep going' and ignore missed notes. I am so used to playing by ear and improvising where I can slow down when I'm note sure what chord is next and play around here and there because there is no such thing as a mistake. I need something to help me, maybe tips from people who were in similar situation. Thank you in advance.


Are lessons really out of the question? Given your goals, having a good teacher is the best way to address the issues you're having and get you to progress quicker.
_________________________
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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#1997238 - 12/10/12 05:19 AM Re: Need help reading music, again. [Re: Mohannad]
Bobpickle Offline

Gold Supporter until July 10  2014


Registered: 05/24/12
Posts: 1383
Loc: Cameron Park, California
I can't tell if you're simply trying to improve note-reading via practicing exaggeratedly easy repertoire or you're trying to practice sight-reading; if it's the latter, then that's fine, but you need to know the the rules for doing so are quite different from simply practicing reading or, inversely, learning repertoire.

For sight-reading advice as well as how to practice it, I recommend these two resources:
http://anthonymaydwell.com/Faith%20Maydwell/images/SightReading.pdf
Forum Thread: "Lets Sight-read: Materials and Tips"


For general note-reading advice (ignore the above references), I simply would recommend deliberate practice of note identification like it sounds like you've been - sort of - doing. When first learning to read music, I went through transcriptions of easier pieces I had and for notes I had trouble easily identifying jotted down note names (a,b,c,etc.). I still wouldn't recommend this route over exercises like emusictheory.com for note-identification, but it can help to change things up a little as well as provide pragmatism.


edit: also know that if you're practicing note-identification with actual pieces, the rules for sight-reading do not apply just as the rules for learning repertoire don't always necessarily apply to practicing sight-reading. I say this because you brought up "not wanting to stop the flow of playing while reading" which implies that you're stubbornly trying to sight-read despite having obvious trouble recognizing notes/intervals and this is the absolute wrong way to go about things.


Edited by Bobpickle (12/10/12 05:28 AM)

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#1997285 - 12/10/12 08:47 AM Re: Need help reading music, again. [Re: Bobpickle]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12225
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: Bobpickle
I can't tell if you're simply trying to improve note-reading via practicing exaggeratedly easy repertoire or you're trying to practice sight-reading; if it's the latter, then that's fine, but you need to know the the rules for doing so are quite different from simply practicing reading or, inversely, learning repertoire.

For sight-reading advice as well as how to practice it, I recommend these two resources:
http://anthonymaydwell.com/Faith%20Maydwell/images/SightReading.pdf
Forum Thread: "Lets Sight-read: Materials and Tips"


For general note-reading advice (ignore the above references), I simply would recommend deliberate practice of note identification like it sounds like you've been - sort of - doing. When first learning to read music, I went through transcriptions of easier pieces I had and for notes I had trouble easily identifying jotted down note names (a,b,c,etc.). I still wouldn't recommend this route over exercises like emusictheory.com for note-identification, but it can help to change things up a little as well as provide pragmatism.


edit: also know that if you're practicing note-identification with actual pieces, the rules for sight-reading do not apply just as the rules for learning repertoire don't always necessarily apply to practicing sight-reading. I say this because you brought up "not wanting to stop the flow of playing while reading" which implies that you're stubbornly trying to sight-read despite having obvious trouble recognizing notes/intervals and this is the absolute wrong way to go about things.


This is exactly correct. Sight reading and reading music are two different skills that have some overlap. When doing the latter, you do stop and correct, and you generally play music at your level of skill. With sight reading, you play music that is easier than your playing level and the goal is to not stop.

Sight reading can help with your reading ability, but it takes a while for sight reading to get good. Also, encountering a lot of music that you work on over a period of time to a good level of playability helps sight reading. So you really need both.
_________________________
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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#1997400 - 12/10/12 02:48 PM Re: Need help reading music, again. [Re: Mohannad]
Brian Lucas Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/11
Posts: 995
Agree with both of these guys here. Sounds like you're trying to get up to speed before recognition has really solidified. It's ok to go painfully slow in the beginning and just try to identify the notes without mistakes. I always say, speed is an afterthought, not a goal. If you're reading a lot of music and identifying the notes, the speed will come. I will also say that if you're playing a lot of notes wrong, that will slow your recognition skills. You have to focus on getting notes right so the brain can associate the dot with the correct note. When you feel like your note recognition is happening fast enough and accurately enough, then it's time to try sight reading without stopping. But for now, it sounds like you're trying to do it all too fast.

Here's an analogy. It's like working in an office with 50 people or so. After your first week, I line them up and say, "Quick, name them all". You would struggle. But after working with these people for a few months, that would be easier. At some point, you would have no problem going through the line and saying names quickly, but not because you sat down and memorized their names, but because you worked with them enough to recognize them. Also in this scenario, if you call people by the wrong name a lot, it's really hard to fix. Same concept holds true with notes.

Hang in there, it tends to improve in chunks, so don't be surprised if one day something just clicks.
_________________________
-Brian
BM in Performance, Berklee College of Music, 23+ year teacher and touring musician
My Downloadable Video Piano Lessons
My Sight Reading eBook
My Music

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#1997479 - 12/10/12 06:06 PM Re: Need help reading music, again. [Re: Brian Lucas]
Bluoh Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/20/11
Posts: 421
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: Brian Lucas
Here's an analogy. It's like working in an office with 50 people or so. After your first week, I line them up and say, "Quick, name them all". You would struggle. But after working with these people for a few months, that would be easier. At some point, you would have no problem going through the line and saying names quickly, but not because you sat down and memorized their names, but because you worked with them enough to recognize them. Also in this scenario, if you call people by the wrong name a lot, it's really hard to fix. Same concept holds true with notes.

Hang in there, it tends to improve in chunks, so don't be surprised if one day something just clicks.


That's a great analogy; it does come in chunks. Remember when you first learned the alphabet? It's practically the same thing.

It sounds like you're good at improvising-- that's a great skill to have. Some people have very good ears but improvisation doesn't come quite as easily.

There are also apps out there for note recognition; my friend Reuel Meditz has a free one out called "Tune Hopper" that's made CNN recently. wink

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#1997575 - 12/10/12 08:38 PM Re: Need help reading music, again. [Re: Mohannad]
Mohannad Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/12/12
Posts: 79
Initially, I was having trouble with memorizing the notes and comprehending the rhythms so I thought maybe if I just started reading, I would get used to it and learn eventually, but turns out I am wrong. This is what worked for identifying the notes on the keyboard when I first started, but I guess it isn't the correct approach for sheet music. Thanks for the online material links. I will go back to square one. Note identification and keep doing that until I've absolutely mastered it, then I will try to put everything together.

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#1997580 - 12/10/12 08:46 PM Re: Need help reading music, again. [Re: Mohannad]
Bluoh Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/20/11
Posts: 421
Loc: Canada

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#1997581 - 12/10/12 08:48 PM Re: Need help reading music, again. [Re: Mohannad]
ju5t1n-h Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/13/12
Posts: 179
Loc: Vancouver, British Columbia
I think you just need to work on your timing. You need to work on your counting big time, I had problems with this early on too, but once you learn how to count properly you'll know exactly how a piece sounds without having to listen to it before. Although there is nothing wrong with listening to someone decent play the piece IMO.
_________________________
Essex EUP-123S


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#1997604 - 12/10/12 09:39 PM Re: Need help reading music, again. [Re: Mohannad]
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/12
Posts: 935
Loc: Canada Alberta

Mohannad,

It is important for us to ask you a few questions so we can help you.

Can you find middle C on the piano?
Middle C is in the center of the piano.
Place your right hand thumb on middle C.
Place your index or first finger on the next white key.
That key is D.
The next white key is E.
The next white key is F.

Play the C and the D and the E and the F keys.
Play those keys again only count out loud 1,2,3,4.
You have played 4 quarter notes.
You have counted music. It is that simple.
Play it again and count 1234 or CDEF.

Mohannad, if you understand that, tell me you understand it and
I will show you the next step to counting and playing music.

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#1998588 - 12/12/12 09:09 PM Re: Need help reading music, again. [Re: Michael_99]
Mohannad Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/12/12
Posts: 79
Yes, I know all of that, I also know how to construct all my major and minor chords and scales and am even familiar with several key signatures. I learned to play pop arrangements and to improvise by ear but never used sheet music, I know where to find my keys on the keyboard and I usually don't need to look down when reading the sheet because I've spent a lot of time playing around and improvising. I understand how the note rhythms work, how a quarter note can be divided into , 8th, 16th notes, how it can be dotted, what a metronome does. My problem is putting it all together, I understand how it all works, I just can't apply it and put it to actual use. My counting issue is in comprehending the rhythm and keeping it. For example, one issue is I see a dotted note then a note with a tie then a rest, I know what they are supposed to do, but I can't play them, I have no idea whether I held a note for too long and too short or how it is supposed to sound. Another issue is when I see a group of 8th notes with two accidentals, I can't within that very beat figure out what the notes are, what the left hand notes are so I just freeze. Sometimes the music is easy, but then there is a whole rest and then a quarter rest, I have no idea how long to stop playing because I don't know how fast to count and a metronome confuses things because I am always stuttering. But it seems to me that what others have told me so far is correct, I need to take it step by step, so now I am focusing on memorizing the notes on a treble and bass clef extremely well so that I can immediately tell what the notes in group of notes are and can 'see' the key board on the clef.

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#1998807 - 12/13/12 08:28 AM Re: Need help reading music, again. [Re: Mohannad]
Brent H Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/11
Posts: 843
Just like recognizing notes on the page and playing the right key is a skill you have to develop, there's a separate skill for recognizing rhythms on the page and playing them.

At some point you're probably best off just doing some isolated counting and reading exercises for rhythms. You can get practice exercises where the rhythms are just written with notes and rests all in a line and you tap your foot to keep time while you clap the indicated rhythm pattern. Of course you start by counting it out loud the first time through.

I think at this point in your development you'd find that just a few hours of clapping/counting a variety of rhythms will get you up to speed (so to speak) but reading rhythm is a separate skill that's just as difficult for most people as reading notes.
_________________________
Current Life+Music Philosophy: Less Thinking, More Foot Tapping

Ars Longa, Vita Brevis

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#1998816 - 12/13/12 08:46 AM Re: Need help reading music, again. [Re: Brian Lucas]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2458
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
It's so easy to run past the basics. When I was teaching my sons guitar they were reluctant to count out loud because they couldn't play and count.

This is such a fundamental skill that you should count, tap and clap first then add playing not vice versa.

Start counting now before your pride prevents you from trying to learn it later.

Originally Posted By: Brian Lucas
Here's an analogy. It's like working in an office with 50 people...

Brilliant, Brian!
_________________________
Richard

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