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Topic Options
#2036028 - 02/19/13 06:00 PM Learning notes
lizcat Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/15/13
Posts: 23
I have a feeling I am more of a beginner than most of you, but...

What did you find was the easiest, fastest method for learning notes? My playing has been sporadic the past couple months due to injuries, so not as much learning-by-doing as I'd like. I've tried flash cards, which are helpful, but I need to be more disciplined about it.

Has anyone actually stuck to a schedule of 10 min a day of memorization and/or playing specifically to learn notes or something similar?

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#2036058 - 02/19/13 07:07 PM Re: Learning notes [Re: lizcat]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11648
Loc: Canada
When you are using flash cards, then you are learning notes as a thing separate from the piano. Reading involves linking the written notes to the instrument, and a reflex doing that. A teacher I'm working with right now has a specific method which I think would have to be done with the teacher. But it's made me think that when I learned to read piano music a few years ago, I was on the right track. I took a preparatory level Czerny set of etudes, which introduced 5 notes at a time. I practised those simple pieces, going from written note to the keys on the piano. This does that linking. I named the notes as I played them, and also played them again, watching what intervals I was going (up 1 note, up 2 notes etc.).

You also want your piano "mapped". I.e. D is the note between 2 black keys and you should be able to find all the D's, all the G's etc. Of course this goes hand in hand with the top part, because you can't link written notes with piano keys without it.

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#2036066 - 02/19/13 07:27 PM Re: Learning notes [Re: lizcat]
lizcat Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/15/13
Posts: 23
Thank you for this reply. I actually have no problem with the notes on the piano; I'm just slow when reading sheet music. I find myself repeating "Every Good Boy..." unless it's a few notes I know automatically (C, D, E, etc.). Frustrating!

But naming the notes out loud as I play sounds like an especially good idea. Thanks.

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#2036073 - 02/19/13 07:51 PM Re: Learning notes [Re: lizcat]
SoundThumb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/28/10
Posts: 339
Loc: San Diego, CA
Ah, lizcat, this isn't just a beginner's problem. After years of lessons, I'm still terrible at recognizing notes by letter name. But Keystring's advise is right on. I tried flash cards and I only got good at naming notes on flash cards. When you look at a real music score, all of a sudden your eye is seeing a whole bunch of notes on much smaller line spacings. For me it was just too different and I was back to spelling my way up or down from guide notes.

But here is what is working. Just as Keystring suggested, I am reading and playing very simple one hand music while saying the note names. It seems that seeing the notes in context is much better than just seeing one note at a time isolated on a flash card. I know that millions of students over the centuries have learned with flash cards, but it just didn't work for me. You might give this a try.

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#2036075 - 02/19/13 07:59 PM Re: Learning notes [Re: lizcat]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11648
Loc: Canada
It's a bit like the reflex where the room gets dark as the sun goes down, and you reach for a light switch. It's an association that you want to build.

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#2036077 - 02/19/13 08:06 PM Re: Learning notes [Re: lizcat]
pckhdlr305 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/12/11
Posts: 53
I can only tell you what I did as a complete beginner with no teacher. There may be better ways and maybe some will say don't do this but it worked for me. I just kept a treble(and bass clef when practicing bass) clef with the notes written on it and kept it on my piano and as I practiced pieces I would glance to it when I didn't know the line or space and eventually weened myself off of using it. I could imagine some will say don't do this but it worked very well for me. I would say I used that sheet for a good half a year before I completely got rid of it. I also highly enjoy sight reading so that helps too. Good luck!


Edited by pckhdlr305 (02/19/13 08:09 PM)

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#2036079 - 02/19/13 08:11 PM Re: Learning notes [Re: lizcat]
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/12
Posts: 935
Loc: Canada Alberta
Well, it is easy, it is cheap and it is fun.

GO to a piano store. There are lots, 50 or more learning beginner piano books, for example, Leila Fletcher piano book course 1, Michael Aaron piano course lessons 1.

These books and the other 48 books have little pieces about 8 measures long. They are easy because they are the first book of learning to playing the piano.

But for, YOU, you simply read and play the music, very simply and easy and fun. So you sit down at the piano and work through the book of about 50 pages costing 5 or 10 dollars and play it from cover to cover reading and playing the 50 pages of music every hour, every day, every week, every month - believe me you will know how to read piano music. It will cover all the notes.

This method is particularly good for somebody who knows how to play a bass instrument or a treble instument because they know one but not the other, but if you are rusty or had a difficulty reading music this is the way to do it, easy, fun, cheap and it works. cheers and good luck. You can look at flash cards, stare at the mood, but really reading piano music, and playing a piano is something a piano player can relate to.


Edited by Michael_99 (02/19/13 08:19 PM)

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#2036094 - 02/19/13 09:05 PM Re: Learning notes [Re: lizcat]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5294
Loc: Philadelphia
I played trumpet before piano. By the time I got to piano, I already knew how to read treble clef, and I just counted down until I figured out bass clef was "two notes lower than treble clef."

The biggest trouble with reading is not being able to translate the note to the piano. You don't need to know it's an "E", but you do need to know which key to press down. We create language to make this process easier to learn and understand, but eventually, it all has to go away for you to keep up with sight-reading at speed. (Separate sight-reading topic.)

Scales are a quick and easy way to become familiar with the notes on the page and the keys on the piano. You can sing your way through them, say it in your head, whatever works. But it's a linear progression that helps you follow the notes up and down the keyboard and the page. Then, once you've got it, you can do some arpeggio work. Then, other exercises.

The great part about this kind of practice is in its duality: you learn not only the notes on the page, but where they are on the piano, and also how to move from note to note.
_________________________
Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.

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#2036102 - 02/19/13 09:21 PM Re: Learning notes [Re: Derulux]
malkin Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/09
Posts: 2497
Loc: *sigh* Salt Lake City
Try everything.
Go slowly and keep doing it.
Something will stick eventually.
_________________________
A good student is one who makes the teacher feel like a good teacher.

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#2036109 - 02/19/13 09:40 PM Re: Learning notes [Re: malkin]
dmd Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 1822
Loc: Pennsylvania
Play'm and say'm
Play'm and say'm
Play'm and say'm
Play'm and say'm
Play'm and say'm
Play'm and say'm
Play'm and say'm
Play'm and say'm
Play'm and say'm
Play'm and say'm
Play'm and say'm
Play'm and say'm
Play'm and say'm
Play'm and say'm
Play'm and say'm
Play'm and say'm
etc ...
_________________________
Don

Current: ES7, Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 audio device, SennHeiser HD555 Phones, Racvenscroft275, Ivory II American Concert D

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#2036132 - 02/19/13 10:30 PM Re: Learning notes [Re: keystring]
Charles Cohen Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/12
Posts: 1233
Loc: Richmond, BC, Canada
Originally Posted By: keystring
. . . Reading involves linking the written notes to the instrument, and a reflex doing that. . . .


The key word is _reflex_. It's too slow to think:

. . . It's on the bottom of the treble staff;

. . . It's a "D";

. . . I know where that is on the piano;

. . . Hit the note.

It has to become:

. . . It's on the bottom of the treble staff;

. . . Hit the note.

Practice, practice, practice . . . . Only repetitious experience will build the necessary brain connections.

"Practice", here, means constantly reading music _that you don't already know_!

. charles

PS -- I don't teach, I only watch what I do, after coming back to piano after 40 years away.

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#2036162 - 02/19/13 11:53 PM Re: Learning notes [Re: lizcat]
Bobpickle Offline

Gold Supporter until July 10  2014


Registered: 05/24/12
Posts: 1383
Loc: Cameron Park, California

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#2036203 - 02/20/13 02:03 AM Re: Learning notes [Re: lizcat]
4evrBeginR Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/27/09
Posts: 1607
Loc: California
Yes. I use a series called Four Star Reading and Ear Tests. You start at Level 1. It is very easy, and take much less than 5 minutes a day. The critical part is that you must follow the instruction for real. If it ask you to clap, you don't pretend to clap in your head, you clap. If it ask you to sing the note a third higher, you sing it. You don't pretend to sing it, you sing it. (This doesn't happen until Level 2.) It works.

_________________________
Art is never finished, only abandoned. - da Vinci

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#2036429 - 02/20/13 01:25 PM Re: Learning notes [Re: lizcat]
Brian Lucas Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/11
Posts: 959
Personally, I don't think "Every Good Boy" works. Never has, never will. Takes too long to go through the sayings, and you have to learn even more to cover the bass clef.

I approach things differently, even for kids starting out. I've been giving out an ebook I recently wrote on the subject to folks on here. Not sure if it's being well received or not, but if you're interested in checking it out, PM me with your email address and I'm happy to send you one to see if it helps at all.
_________________________
-Brian
BM in Performance, Berklee College of Music, 21+ year teacher and touring musician
My Downloadable Video Piano Lessons
My Sight Reading eBook
My Music

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#2036577 - 02/20/13 06:17 PM Re: Learning notes [Re: lizcat]
lizcat Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/15/13
Posts: 23
Thank you to all. It's great to know I can get advice from people who are long past this hurdle.

Sounds like saying and playing the notes is the key. I've done so the past two days, working from my 7-year-old's book. About half the treble clef was already in "muscle memory," so hopefully the rest will come in time.

Thank you again for all the ideas.

(P.S. I remember my mother telling me that when she was in Catholic school 65 years ago, the nuns taught them "Every Good Boy" on paper as their "music class." The school didn't have a single instrument in sight--this was all just a rote memorization exercise!)

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#2036758 - 02/21/13 04:16 AM Re: Learning notes [Re: lizcat]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2457
Loc: France
Hi Lizcat. Despite all of the interesting things that have been written so far, I'll suggest another approach.

As a first step, learn the C's on the grand staff. Nothing more, only worry about the three C's or if you feel more confident the five C's. (The Five C's, sounds like a doo-wop group!) Until you recognize confortably any C. Simply say the name of the note outloud, in a clear and confident voice.

I suggest doing this using, as I said, the grand staff, and away from the piano. Close the piano lid, don't think about the black and whites.

When C has become a close and intimate friend, a true confident to whom you can recount all of your music reading woes, you can add G, starting with the G that is so nicely tagged by tha G-clef!

By the way, did you know that, that the G-clef identifies the G? And the F-clef ... well guess for yourself!

I mentioned the grand staff but did you know that the big staff for piano music is called the grand staff? And did you know that this grand staff isn't an assemblage of two 5-line staves, but one big staff with eleven lines. That's right eleven lines! With C right smack in the middle! Count 'em!









Edited by landorrano (02/21/13 06:37 AM)

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#2037057 - 02/21/13 04:30 PM Re: Learning notes [Re: Brian Lucas]
Tech 5 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/27/12
Posts: 194
Loc: South Carolina
Originally Posted By: Brian Lucas
Personally, I don't think "Every Good Boy" works. Never has, never will. Takes too long to go through the sayings, and you have to learn even more to cover the bass clef.

I approach things differently, even for kids starting out. I've been giving out an ebook I recently wrote on the subject to folks on here. Not sure if it's being well received or not, but if you're interested in checking it out, PM me with your email address and I'm happy to send you one to see if it helps at all.


Ok, Brian...I need your technical help. I downloaded your ebook on reading notes for $19. I read the first few chapters, then had to leave it temporarily. Now, I can't find the file on my computer. Its not listed with my downloads. I have a Mac. Can you help me resolve this problem?
Thanks,
_________________________
Virginia

"Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do."
J.Wooden

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#2037067 - 02/21/13 04:47 PM Re: Learning notes [Re: lizcat]
fizikisto Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/13/12
Posts: 380
Loc: Hernando, MS
Tech_5 Was the ebook a pdf file? If so, it probably opened in the MacOS Preview application. If so, you can find it by opening preview (in the applications folder) and under the "File" menu there will be an option to "Open Recent" which (when you click on it) will list the last several documents you opened. If you haven't opened a ton of documents since you last opened the ebook, then it should be on the list. You can reopen it there. More importantly, you can see the name of the file there, and search for it using spotlight (the little magnifying glass in the upper right hand corner). I hope that helps smile
_________________________
Nord Stage 2 HA88
Roland RD800

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#2037147 - 02/21/13 06:38 PM Re: Learning notes [Re: fizikisto]
Tech 5 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/27/12
Posts: 194
Loc: South Carolina
Originally Posted By: fizikisto
Tech_5 Was the ebook a pdf file? If so, it probably opened in the MacOS Preview application. If so, you can find it by opening preview (in the applications folder) and under the "File" menu there will be an option to "Open Recent" which (when you click on it) will list the last several documents you opened. If you haven't opened a ton of documents since you last opened the ebook, then it should be on the list. You can reopen it there. More importantly, you can see the name of the file there, and search for it using spotlight (the little magnifying glass in the upper right hand corner). I hope that helps smile


Thanks so much, Fizikisto. I have located the file and now have it quite handy on my desktop. I really appreciate your help.
_________________________
Virginia

"Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do."
J.Wooden

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#2037196 - 02/21/13 08:11 PM Re: Learning notes [Re: dmd]
hamlet cat Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/01/13
Posts: 103
Loc: Mojave Desert
Originally Posted By: dmd
Play'm and say'm
Play'm and say'm
Play'm and say'm
Play'm and say'm
Play'm and say'm
Play'm and say'm
Play'm and say'm
Play'm and say'm
Play'm and say'm
Play'm and say'm
Play'm and say'm
Play'm and say'm
Play'm and say'm
Play'm and say'm
Play'm and say'm
Play'm and say'm
etc ...


What dmd said is worth repeating. smile After all, it is the single most effective way to memorize notes. Play'm and say'm, and repeat.

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#2037219 - 02/21/13 09:07 PM Re: Learning notes [Re: Tech 5]
Brian Lucas Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/11
Posts: 959
Originally Posted By: Tech 5
Originally Posted By: fizikisto
Tech_5 Was the ebook a pdf file? If so, it probably opened in the MacOS Preview application. If so, you can find it by opening preview (in the applications folder) and under the "File" menu there will be an option to "Open Recent" which (when you click on it) will list the last several documents you opened. If you haven't opened a ton of documents since you last opened the ebook, then it should be on the list. You can reopen it there. More importantly, you can see the name of the file there, and search for it using spotlight (the little magnifying glass in the upper right hand corner). I hope that helps smile


Thanks so much, Fizikisto. I have located the file and now have it quite handy on my desktop. I really appreciate your help.

I'm just now seeing this and I appreciate your help as well. I'll keep that in mind if others have the same issue. Thanks!
_________________________
-Brian
BM in Performance, Berklee College of Music, 21+ year teacher and touring musician
My Downloadable Video Piano Lessons
My Sight Reading eBook
My Music

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