Sources for SIMPLE music?

Posted by: Michael Steen

Sources for SIMPLE music? - 04/28/11 10:53 AM

As I'm reading the various threads on this forum about sight-reading, the advice we all seem to be giving and getting is "get some really simple stuff and practice sight reading."
The problem, of course, is that once you've played the really simple stuff once or twice, you're practicing and not sight-reading, necessitating the purchase ($$$$) of more simple stuff.
Does anyone know of any good internet sources for free SIMPLE music? I'm not talking here of "Easy Piano" that's easy for people who've already passed Grade 10; I'm talking the stuff that people at the end of Alfred's #1 would seek out for sight-reading practice.
Thanks in advance.
Posted by: J.A.S

Re: Sources for SIMPLE music? - 04/28/11 11:07 AM

Originally Posted By: Michael Steen
Does anyone know of any good internet sources for free SIMPLE music?

http://www.gmajormusictheory.org/Freebies/freebies.html

Hundreds of pieces classified by difficulty levels.

Originally Posted By: Michael Steen
I'm not talking here of "Easy Piano" that's easy for people who've already passed Grade 10

laugh That reminds me how I asked my teacher, long ago, why it was so difficult for me to even play (let alone sight-read) some music labelled as "XX in Easy Arrangements". And his answer was: Because it's supposed to be easy for people like me!
Posted by: Akira

Re: Sources for SIMPLE music? - 04/28/11 11:50 AM

I understand what you're saying -- play them once (or maybe twice), then pitch them (never to be played again). Assuming you're trying to get your hands on as much material as possible, I suppose you could peel them off the Internet one by one, but then you'd have hundreds of loose pieces of paper (which I would personally find unpleasant to deal with).

You might also consider buying a bunch of "big books" of easy (or "big note") arrangements. To me, the money investment cost is relatively small, compared time investment.

For example, this book is $11 and contains 83 songs (that's only 13 cents per song). I would consider investing $100 for 1,000 pieces to sight read a relatively small investment.

Just an alternative idea for you to consider. smile
Posted by: bluekeys

Re: Sources for SIMPLE music? - 04/28/11 02:26 PM

Someone recently suggested abebooks.com as cheap source of used music books. I found a lot of Easy Piano at good prices there, but they probably have some Big Note too.

The supply of material seems to go up as you go from Big Note to Easy Piano to Piano-Vocal-Guitar books.

Definitely check your library for Big Note or children's books too. My library also had a lot of very easy Christmas books. You can also look for graded supplemental books from publishers like Alfred's, but you're right about the cost of that adding up fast.

As you may know from other threads, I've personally I've found the suggestion of "not learning" the pieces you sight read to be of dubious value, ie, you can also learn to sight read by using slightly higher pieces (EP for me) and just learn a new one every day or two. That took me further than plowing though page after page of Big Note and also makes the material go further.
Posted by: ll

Re: Sources for SIMPLE music? - 04/28/11 04:18 PM

The problem with sight-reading isn't that it's difficult. It's that it can't really be done too early on. You need to be further than Alfred Book 1, in my opinion, to actually start sight-reading. Until then, you should invest in some sight-reading books to practice the techniques required to sight-read (further described in other posts, search for them).

Some I recommend are:
-A Line A Day
- Four Star
- Improve Your Sight-Reading! Piano
- Complete Series
- Any 'Notespeller' or 'Sightreading' book that goes alongside a children's method series.
- Another Adult/Childrens Piano Method: Piano Adventures, Bastien, etc

You're right. You need to purchase things. But at this level, you're not advanced enough to sight-read anything that is really available online, except for maybe a few things here and there.

But, at this level, you SHOULD be practicing as many pieces as you can. It's waaaaay more beneficial to your sight-reading than actually attempting to sight-read poorly. If all you ever do is sight-read poorly, that's as good as you're going to be at it. But if you work hard at this earlier level and practice a ton of material (and at later levels too, of course), sight-reading will become a cinch.

Also, do lots and lots of theory. I kid you not, nothing could help your reading more than that.

Find a few things on IMSLP.

Czerny: http://imslp.org/wiki/Category:Czerny,_Carl
--
Practical Exercises for Beginners, Op.599 (Czerny, Carl)
110 Progressive Excercises, Op.453 (Czerny, Carl)
100 Progressive Recreations (Czerny, Carl)
100 Progressive Studies, Op.139 (Czerny, Carl)

Beyer: http://imslp.org/wiki/Category:Beyer,_Ferdinand
--
Vorschule im Klavierspiel, Op.101 (Beyer, Ferdinand)

Turk: http://imslp.org/wiki/Category:T%C3%BCrk,_Daniel_Gottlob
--
Kleine Handstücke für angehende Klavierspieler (Türk, Daniel Gottlob)

Diabelli Melodies, Primo parts:
http://imslp.org/wiki/Melodische_%C3%9Cbungst%C3%BCcke,_Op.149_(Diabelli,_Anton)#Original_Version

The G Major website provided above does give a lot of music scores to practice with. Others are:

http://www.easysheetmusic.com/
(3 a day unless you subscribe)

http://www.pianostreet.com/
(some free downloads are made accessible, I think)

http://jeanies_home_studio.tripod.com/id14.html
(You have to look through it, but there's quite a few pieces here)

http://www.music-for-music-teachers.com/beginner-piano-music.html

http://www.8notes.com/piano/

http://www.sheetzbox.com/

And there's plenty more than that...

But again, I think it's more beneficial to actually learn the material, instead of constantly sight-reading, at this level - save for those sight-reading books or some very, very simple music.
Posted by: tangleweeds

Re: Sources for SIMPLE music? - 04/28/11 04:35 PM

At the beginning stages of sight reading I was also frustrated by the expense those slender volumes of sight reading series, and was happy when I found the Hannah Smith book which had more exercises per page, and more pages per dollar:
http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/Progressive-Sight-Reading-Exercises/3128875#

The rating calls it early intermediate but that's totally screwy -- I worked through it as my first real effort at daily sight reading when I was playing mid-elementary pieces (Keith Snell level 1), so it's not too terribly hard to start out with. As you can see in the sample page, the right and left hands are playing in unison (in the beginning). Later there are quite a few accidentals, but IIRC they're just used in substitution for having key signatures, so if you know your keys you're home free.
Posted by: Starr Keys

Re: Sources for SIMPLE music? - 04/28/11 05:56 PM

Can anyone tell me if these sight reading techniques have any exercises on associating soprano notes on the staff with specific inversions or voicings. It seems like one of the keys to improving sight reading is in immediately being able to identify the chord inversion or hand position used with these melody or top notes. I haven't been doing this that long in my reading and certainly am not able to do it with total consistency and with every chord but I try to make myself more aware of common tones and steps back and forward in one set of chord tones to the next. It seems to be having an impact on my reading and I'm just wondering if any one else has experienced this and has used exercises in any sight-reading series that has helped them to accomplish it.
Posted by: Alisong

Re: Sources for SIMPLE music? - 04/28/11 06:27 PM

If there is a university with a music program near you, you could see what is available from their library. I borrowed the earliest books from seven or eight different methods series for sight reading practice. Worked out well since it wasn't the kind of stuff I wanted to write notes in or keep.
Posted by: tangleweeds

Re: Sources for SIMPLE music? - 04/28/11 10:45 PM

Originally Posted By: bluekeys
Someone recently suggested abebooks.com as cheap source of used music books. I found a lot of Easy Piano at good prices there, but they probably have some Big Note too.

The supply of material seems to go up as you go from Big Note to Easy Piano to Piano-Vocal-Guitar books.


Definitely true about the supply going up as levels increase, but I've found good stuff cheap on Abebooks, including aged Big Note collections of pop tunes from the young teen days when I actually listened to pop radio or watched TV. Playing from more modern Big Note collections has informed me that I am regrettably oblivious to modern (as in post-1980) popular culture.

Also, there are generally lots of Big Note piano books on Amazon's ongoing 4-for-3 bargain deal, but watch out for appealingly priced itesm which turn out to be sheet music for a single song.
Huge ugly long Amazon search link

Quote:
As you may know from other threads, I've personally I've found the suggestion of "not learning" the pieces you sight read to be of dubious value, ie, you can also learn to sight read by using slightly higher pieces (EP for me) and just learn a new one every day or two. That took me further than plowing though page after page of Big Note and also makes the material go further.


This works for me too, but I also practice prima vista sight reading, as well as a number of other music-reading related activities. I have different activities for each the difficulty-for-me class of material I'm trying to read. I will try for a nice prima-vista reading if the material looks plausible, but depending on what happens I might do any of a number of things.

If I read something and it's a good level for me to get a reasonable prima vista reading, I feel like I've hit the jackpot. If I read something and it's too easy, I'll play it transposed into a few other keys. I'll also give successful prima vista pieces some re-use by playing them transposed. (I don't know why, but I find transposing to be a miracle vitamin for my sight reading skills (along with 2-handed rhythm reading)

Stuff that's too hard for me, I will play through very slowly, maybe not in time, but getting all the notes to hear what they sound like, or else playing the melody to in time, but with sketchy (if any) harmony. I'll also do this with stuff I know I can't sight read yet, but which I want to explore.

And that segues into what I call "recreationally stumbling through", which is playing stuff that's above my level, but which I want to explore in a more intimate way. One thing that struck me whilst reading all the sight reading threads I could google out of the archives, was how many proficient sight readers mentioned a formative period during which they had a large pile of sheet music, often above their head, along with the curiosity (or passion) and time to explore it.

So, maybe it's all good. smile What I think is most important is for each person to discover the kinds of reading activities that motivate them to persist.
Posted by: findingnemo2010

Re: Sources for SIMPLE music? - 04/28/11 10:53 PM

ummmmmmmm, i dunno maybe the internet or google. i hear there gettin pretty big
Posted by: Michael Taylor

Re: Sources for SIMPLE music? - 04/29/11 02:14 AM

http://musiced.about.com/od/freestuff/a/freepianosheets.htm

These are pretty simple. Hope it helps!
Posted by: Edtek

Re: Sources for SIMPLE music? - 04/29/11 02:30 AM

Here in El Paso I've purchased many music books (from old lowry organ books (ignore the bass pedal staff), fake books, piano/vocal books (both easy and regular) and even ur texts of Bach) all for 50 cents to $2 at a "Friends of the Library" used bookstore. They take donations and help support our local libraries (even pay for local musician concerts at libraries including a couple my 2 man jazz group has done).

I usally check once every week or so since new items arrive all the time (I get my New Yorkers there for 50 cents each but I have to be quick because they go fast, the music books not so much, I see the same band books there for months).

If such things exist in your area they're a great source of good and inexpensive books and sheet music.

Posted by: ROMagister

Re: Sources for SIMPLE music? - 04/29/11 03:59 AM

I'm also seeking more Level 2-3 materials to sight-read/practice lightly.
That's commercially known as "Big Note" ?

because this "Big Note" is really childish/primer material, going by finger numbers only and no staff:
http://www.noelnoelnoel.com/big_note/bignote.html
Posted by: ll

Re: Sources for SIMPLE music? - 04/29/11 04:06 AM

ROM,

Big Note isn't necessarily childish nor primer material.

The songs on the website you listed, actually, are not really Big Note. They are called "Pre-Reading" normally.
Posted by: ROMagister

Re: Sources for SIMPLE music? - 04/29/11 04:20 AM

OK, the same Christian site also has Christmas pieces:
- lead sheet style (melody+chord letters):
http://www.noelnoelnoel.com/leadsht/shtmx.html

- "simple piano arrangements":
http://www.noelnoelnoel.com/piano/piano.html
as the original poster said, simple for a quite advanced pianist. Not fast, but too much parallelism for me now.
Maybe that experience is used to understand/predict/block-execute the predictable patterns between the barriers of notes that keep coming...
Posted by: bluekeys

Re: Sources for SIMPLE music? - 04/29/11 10:18 AM

Quote:
I will try for a nice prima-vista reading if the material looks plausible, but depending on what happens I might do any of a number of things.


Yeah, I do that too if I run into a super easy piece. Like the other day I encountered "On Top of Old Smokey" in a jumbo EP book. Unfortunately I still found it took me 3 or 4 attempts to get a smooth play with no big mistakes. I also go back to my old Big Note and Alfreds supplemental books sometimes just to see how I do. I know all the melodies by now but I never remember the notes, so it's good prima vista practice. Something else I like to do with super easy pieces is bring in the metronome -- sometimes they don't seem so super easy after all. frown

As for transposing on the fly while sight reading -- I've never tried it. On the surface it sounds hugely difficult, but I guess like everything else it gets easier with practice. And I can see how going back to regular reading would seem easier by comparison.

As for "recreational stumbling through," I only do that now for pieces I intend to learn. I did a lot of it in the past and found it to be of minimal value for sight reading. I found I was better off using "flash card" programs to build note recognition and easier pieces to build rhythm and musicality. With hard pieces I didn't develop the habit of reading while playing and felt like bad playing was becoming a habit.

But like you said, ya gotta do what works for you. thumb
Posted by: bluekeys

Re: Sources for SIMPLE music? - 04/29/11 10:39 AM

ROM -- the Big Note links you posted are both much simpler than the Big Note books I've seen. The ones I've seen use the full grand staff typically with half note doubles or simple quarter note patterns in the bass and the melody usually in singles with an occasional harmonizing double or chord in the treble.

Here is one I own, and it's comparable to others I've gotten from the library.

[Edit: Actually the last link (2nd Xmas) looks like typical BN. I wonder though after printing stuff like this out if the cost of ink isn't about the same as the books for $4 and free shipping at abebooks.com]
Posted by: kck

Re: Sources for SIMPLE music? - 04/29/11 10:47 AM

http://www.mnmusicteachers.com/store.php?category=Sightplaying

These workbooks have about 100 selections each starting at a very easy level with the 1st book on up. Even if you work through a book and you aren't ready to level up, you can repeat the same book without memorizing. The "pieces" tend to be very random and not catchy and are short (1-2 lines in first book, 2-4 lines in book 4). My late intermediate kid is working through book 4 right now and is a strong reader. 5 minutes of these a day made a huge difference for him.
Posted by: tangleweeds

Re: Sources for SIMPLE music? - 04/30/11 05:07 AM

Originally Posted By: bluekeys
As for transposing on the fly while sight reading -- I've never tried it. On the surface it sounds hugely difficult, but I guess like everything else it gets easier with practice. And I can see how going back to regular reading would seem easier by comparison.

Actually I think it's weirder than that. I think it helps the eyes/brain/fingers to correlate line-space patterns on the staff to scale degree awareness that's independent of key, but which maps comfortably into the keyboard geography of whatever key you're transposing into. Or to look at it another way, it seem to train me out of wasting mental energy on specific note names, and go straight from interval patterns on the page to interval patterns within the target key.

I started because I always ran across reading/transposition exercises in all the method books I'd chosen as favorites for a different reason. So if these authors I liked all recommended I do this transposition stuff, I thought I'd give it a try. And I found it strangely effective, just like 2-handed/2-staff rhythm reading.

Also, back to the OP's question, I ask friends who enjoy yard sales to pick up any beginner piano books they can find, which provides another source of very easy reading material.

However, the stuff is almost always in the key of C, which can be deadly dull. But transposing it to other keys, or at least your key of the week, is an excellent way to build familiarity with a wider range of keys, as well as the basics of transposing on the fly.
Posted by: Howser

Re: Sources for SIMPLE music? - 04/30/11 05:55 AM

Originally Posted By: tangleweeds
[quote=bluekeys]

I started because I always ran across reading/transposition exercises in all the method books I'd chosen as favorites for a different reason. So if these authors I liked all recommended I do this transposition stuff, I thought I'd give it a try. And I found it strangely effective, just like 2-handed/2-staff rhythm reading.


So, what is 2-handed/2-staff rhythm reading?
Posted by: tangleweeds

Re: Sources for SIMPLE music? - 04/30/11 03:04 PM

(Oops, you're quoting me, not bluekeys, so I'd better answer smile ).

2-handed rhythm reading exercises are printed exercises with 2 separate rhythmic lines that one reads simultaneously. They can be printed various ways depending on the book, but basically you read both rhythmic lines at once, tapping one with each hand (one can also use notes on the piano). I found this amazingly helpful in developing hand independence, as well dual-track reading skills suitable for 2-staff piano music.
Posted by: Howser

Re: Sources for SIMPLE music? - 05/02/11 06:19 AM

Originally Posted By: tangleweeds

2-handed rhythm reading exercises are printed exercises with 2 separate rhythmic lines that one reads simultaneously. They can be printed various ways depending on the book, but basically you read both rhythmic lines at once, tapping one with each hand (one can also use notes on the piano). I found this amazingly helpful in developing hand independence, as well dual-track reading skills suitable for 2-staff piano music.


Sorry for hijacking the thread, but which books have these exercises? Sounds like something I should consider...
Posted by: OnlinePianist.com

Re: Sources for SIMPLE music? - 05/02/11 08:45 AM

Hey Alfred and sorry in advance for the shameless self promotion...

We (OnlinePianist.com) offer a quite unique way to help you practice your sight reading.

The entire collection of classical tutorials on our site are animated and accompanied by

a sheet viewer, so basically you can visually see what keys you should play while reviewing the sheets themselves.

I would be more than happy to answer any questions you might have and to hear any ideas

you might have to help us improve our player.

Always,

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The OnlinePianist Team
Posted by: tangleweeds

Re: Sources for SIMPLE music? - 05/03/11 04:53 PM

Originally Posted By: Howser
Sorry for hijacking the thread, but which books have these exercises? Sounds like something I should consider...

Studying Rhythm is the motherlode of such exercises, though the price is high because it's a music textbook. I found up a much cheaper used copy of a past edition.

There also several interesting method books which contain such exercises. They seem to be a component of method books which take the approach of decomposing piano proficiency into sub-skills that the student can practice in isolation (an approach which I've found to work well for me).

One such book which focuses specifically on skills related to sight reading is You can Sight Read! by Lorina Havill, with the subtitle is "The Pleasures of Piano Sight Reading Through Keyboard Harmony and Technique". It has lots of interesting & challenging keyboard orientation drills, 2-handed rhythm reading exercises, practical harmony exercises to help recognize common patterns, as well as material to sight read and transpose.

There are other books with a similar range skills being worked on, but without the sight reading focus, and more emphasis on harmonization and improvisational skills. One is Keyboard Proficiency by Louise Guhl, which is piano method created to help non-piano music majors to develop all-purpose piano skills.

An easier approach with similar exercises is available here: Progressive Class Piano by Elmer Herema.
Posted by: Howser

Re: Sources for SIMPLE music? - 05/04/11 02:10 PM

Thanks Tangleweeds, will check them out.
Posted by: fliper

Re: Sources for SIMPLE music? - 05/05/11 04:58 AM

Originally Posted By: Michael Steen
Does anyone know of any good internet sources for free SIMPLE music?

http://acrochenote.fr/piano.html

http://www.classical-sheet-music.eu/Easy_piano_music.html

http://www.easybyte.org/

http://www.take-a-piano-sheet-music-break.com/free-piano-collection-for-beginners.html

http://www.piano-play-it.com/beginner-piano-music.html

http://www.makingmusicfun.net/htm/printit_piano_sheet_music_index.htm


There is a site called "Ping´s Piano" but I can not find it now.