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#954813 - 10/10/05 07:52 PM New student has a basic question
John WI Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/30/05
Posts: 88
Loc: Madison, Wisconsin USA
I just started piano (7 months ago) at age 58 with no previous music experience. I take private lessons 1/2 hour per week. But, I am struggling with a very basic problem. I hope some kind teacher out there can help me out.

I don't really know immediately by looking at a note on a piece of music what the note name is or what piano key corresponds to it.

The book I am using (Alfred Basic Adult) often gives the finger number for the note and I play that way going up or down from there for subsequent notes. Of course, I also know the pneumonic devices (every good boy does fine, FACE, etc.), and I use them but this takes too long to play smoothly.

How can I best learn to quickly associate a note on paper with a note name and a piano key? Do you know any links to good online flashcards that teach the correct piano key for each written note?

Thanks.
_________________________
John Wisconsin

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#954814 - 10/10/05 08:02 PM Re: New student has a basic question
pianojerome Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/05
Posts: 9868
Here's a couple cool "games" for testing yourself / drilling to learn the notes:

http://www.emusictheory.com/drillSpeedReading.html
http://www.emusictheory.com/drillPianoKeyFinder.html

There are other drills there, too, if you go to the main page.


In terms of remembering the notes:


I first learned that the lines of the treble clef are, from bottom to top:
E[/b]very G[/b]ood B[/b]oy D[/b]eserves F[/b]udge


Another way of thinking about it:

For the treble clef, the bottom line is E and the top line is F.

For the bass clef, the bottom line is G and the top line is A.

Middle C is right in between the two clefs (it's one ledger line below the treble clef and one ledger line above the bass clef)


Hope that helps a little. Good luck!
_________________________
Sam

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#954815 - 10/10/05 11:00 PM Re: New student has a basic question
John WI Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/30/05
Posts: 88
Loc: Madison, Wisconsin USA
Thanks Sam,

The links are exactly what I was looking for.
_________________________
John Wisconsin

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#954816 - 10/11/05 01:05 PM Re: New student has a basic question
Hobie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/11/05
Posts: 475
Loc: Rocky Mountains
John WI

I'm new to this forum, but I teach adults and see many adults begin to get frustrated when confronted with the daunting amount of memorization involved in becoming musically literate. I believe you should work in various ways to see notes as not just letter names, but actual locations on the piano. When doing flashcards, say and play the notes. Always play the note in its correct location. If all you have is Alfreds Adult piano course, consider supplementing in other music at the level you can read. I say this because some (not all) of the songs in Alfred are boring. You may get better results by blending the ideas from Alfred with other music. Also work in small blocks of information. There is so much to know, you can easily overload and accomplish nothing. Set reasonable goals for yourself, and notice improvements as they come gradually. Have fun and keep practicing!
_________________________
"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others." Groucho Marx

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#954817 - 10/21/05 11:46 PM Re: New student has a basic question
littlePianoGirl Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/21/05
Posts: 37
i think instead of writing note names out (which personally i think makes you more dependent on reading the letters instead of where the notes are) you should memorize the 'markers' on the staffs like Cs and Fs and then play the music from there. this works if you pay attention to the relationship between notes, if you see a middle C (which you've memorized the location of)and then the next note is one above C, then you know its a D, and you know that the key next to C, is what youre going to press next. or if you recognize the next note is two notes away (a 3rd) then you know that if your 1 is on C, the next thing you press is 3 (F). eventually youll know all of them by just looking a the music ,this also helps a lot in sight reading or learning new pieces quickly! hope that helps
_________________________
I love playing scales!

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#954818 - 10/22/05 05:53 PM Re: New student has a basic question
John WI Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/30/05
Posts: 88
Loc: Madison, Wisconsin USA
Through searching the web, I discovered a recommendation for "Piano is Fun" ( http://www.pianoisfun.com/b/ ). It cost $25; I bought it, and it seems pretty good so far. I like it because it breaks down note reading into learnable segments.
_________________________
John Wisconsin

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#954819 - 10/26/05 10:19 AM Re: New student has a basic question
pianocliff Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/05/05
Posts: 398
Loc: Washington, DC Metro
 Quote:
i think instead of writing note names out (which personally i think makes you more dependent on reading the letters instead of where the notes are) you should memorize the 'markers' on the staffs like Cs and Fs and then play the music from there. this works if you pay attention to the relationship between notes, if you see a middle C (which you've memorized the location of)and then the next note is one above C, then you know its a D, and you know that the key next to C, is what youre going to press next. or if you recognize the next note is two notes away (a 3rd) then you know that if your 1 is on C, the next thing you press is 3 (F). eventually youll know all of them by just looking a the music ,this also helps a lot in sight reading or learning new pieces quickly! hope that helps
Very true, I used the treble high "F" and bass low "G" as my "GUIDE NOTES" when i started out. If you sit at "middle D" at the keyboard and touch these notes they should be at about the distance that your shoulders fall comfortably on either side (there is a better way to say this but I can't think of it now). It is very important that you re-inforce the staff notes as actual notes on the keyboard not just "letters". If you turn the staff on it's side (90deg to the right) you'll see the relationship right away: every white key on the piano is either a line or a space.

Try this memorize your "guide notes" first: middle C, high F, low G. Know how to find them by sight and by touch, then learn how to find the other notes in relation to the "guide notes" you have. For instance the highest F in the bass clef is a fifth down from middle C and the low B is a third up from the low G.

When you get really good you can draw some random notes on the two staffs with ledger lines and then practice *SIMULTANEOUSLY* identifying the note, saying the note, and finding it's place on the keyboard. I know this sounds childish but it works, to become really good at knowing the keyboard notes you have to perform an eye->brain->hand transformation in real-time. Saying the note name and finding it on the keyboard while you say it re-inforces the learning process...

~pianocliff

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#954820 - 10/26/05 10:20 AM Re: New student has a basic question
pianocliff Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/05/05
Posts: 398
Loc: Washington, DC Metro
If you are willing to spend $10 you can get a book called Howard Richman's Super Sight-Reading Secrets that will help you learn all the notes in a very straightforward manner in much the same way I've described above.


~pianocliff

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#954821 - 10/26/05 02:28 PM Re: New student has a basic question
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
One rather offbeat way to improve reading is
to do some rote copying of scores. Each day,
before you start playing, get some blank
music staff paper (if you can't find any,
draw your own and make xerox copies) and
copy some piece you're working on
seriously, exactly as printed, note
for note (this may take some practice
if you've never done it before, because
there are quirks to writing music:
notes are not circles but football-shaped
ovals that tilt slightly up to the rt.,
quarter and eighth rests are difficult
to draw, etc.). Copy it so that it is legible
enough to play from like the original.
Just do 4 or 5 measures a day because this
is exhausting work and you don't want to
turn it into a grind, since you will be
doing this every day before you start your
practice session. There is software that
can do this but do it longhand, like
Mozart used to do (he did this every day--
laboriously hand-copying the works of
other composers with a quill pen, as a
basic musical drill). By doing this you
become intimately familiar with music
notation, like you were composing it
yourself, and your reading of music
should dramatically improve.

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#954822 - 10/26/05 10:59 PM Re: New student has a basic question
zorrodepiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/21/04
Posts: 24
Loc: Encinitas Ca
The Howard Richman book is cool.
Z

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#954823 - 10/26/05 11:00 PM Re: New student has a basic question
zorrodepiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/21/04
Posts: 24
Loc: Encinitas Ca
And plain old "analog" flashcards!
Z

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#954824 - 10/30/05 08:33 PM Re: New student has a basic question
virtuosic1 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/28/05
Posts: 523
Loc: NY
More important than viewing the individual notes and identifying them is realizing their successive linear proportion to each other through time. A note, by itself, is just that. One note, until another (or more) is placed after it to create a phrase, much in the same way that a letter, or even a word is not a complete thought until used in a sentence conveying an expression of idea.

In learning to read, we start by becoming familiar with the standard alpha-numeric, which would be akin to learning where each relative note belongs on the staff. We become readers, when our ability transcends individual letter/individual word recognition and whole sentences are processed in our minds as complete thoughts, with imagery and all.

Music should be learned the same way. A two octave C major scale starting on middle C, ending on C two octaves above middle C, then returning to middme C, could be represented linearly on a graph as either a triangle, or if you like rounding things off, a crescent. The succession of musical, notated on paper, are a graph of increasing or diminishing proportions relative to the placement on the staff. Each written phrase has a shape. Noting the shape of these phrases, each note up or down relative to the notes preceeding them, will make you a more effective reader. In essence, you're viewing groups of notes plotted on a staff by their shape (comprised of sawtooths, sine waves, etc., in shape).

The more you can view the overall shape of the musical phrases themselves, the more the reading of music will become just as easy as reading words/sentences/paragraphs, and make just as much sense.
_________________________
My version of Lennie Tristano's "Scene and Variation":

http://d.turboupload.com/d/1410287/R1_0010.MP3.html

A downloadable file with examples of my jazz improvising (Accompaniament on Fender Rhodes, lead lines on Acoustic piano):

http://d.turboupload.com/d/229801/R1_0001.MP3.html

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#954825 - 10/30/05 10:06 PM Re: New student has a basic question
pianocliff Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/05/05
Posts: 398
Loc: Washington, DC Metro
 Quote:
The more you can view the overall shape of the musical phrases themselves, the more the reading of music will become just as easy as reading words/sentences/paragraphs, and make just as much sense.
I totally agree. I'm finding lately that being able to recognize chords in all inversions broken or blocked is a huge asset to my reading, when I see a broken chord or arpeggio I just think of the chord, not the notes (although I know the notes to all major/minor chords by heart). Also, like you said, I am starting to take in small phraes at a time so I am better equipped to read ahead which keeps me from "stumbling".

~pianocliff

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