how to read music

Posted by: PianoBen

how to read music - 02/23/13 08:37 AM

Hi,

Am putting together a music theory site teaching people how to read music. Would love some feedback on it.
Am doing a mixture of videos and written lessons. Am not sure which works best - would love to hear some thoughts.

www.musictheoryacademy.com

Thanks in advance.
Posted by: Artur Gajewski

Re: how to read music - 02/24/13 12:48 AM

A lesson on circle of fifths? Other than that great job!
Posted by: PianoBen

Re: how to read music - 02/24/13 03:22 AM

Hi Artur,

Thank you - that's really encouraging.
I'll have a go at a circle of fifths one.
Thanks again
Posted by: hegedusmj

Re: how to read music - 02/24/13 07:59 AM

You might include a topic on reading the 'roadmap' of a composition: signum, coda, repeats, other??
Posted by: EdwardianPiano

Re: how to read music - 02/24/13 06:23 PM

Ben I have bookmarked your site. It looks very good and I will have a read of it this week- at a glance I can see some topics my teacher has introduced to me so these will be further study for me. Many thanks!

p.s - are you British? You have used European music terms like crotchet! smile
Posted by: malkin

Re: how to read music - 02/24/13 08:40 PM

Originally Posted By: EdwardianPiano
...p.s - are you British? You have used European music terms like crotchet! smile


He also says "...have a go at..." which normal Americans hardly ever use.
Posted by: PianoBen

Re: how to read music - 02/26/13 01:18 PM

Hi,

Thanks so much for the feedback.
A post on the roadmap sounds great - I'll put one together.
I confess I am British! Hence the "crotchets, minims", etc.. I've tried to use quarter notes and half notes terminology as well.
Thanks.

P.S. out of interest, what do Americans say instead of "have a go at"?
Posted by: RonR

Re: how to read music - 02/26/13 01:23 PM

"Give it a shot"
Posted by: EdwardianPiano

Re: how to read music - 02/26/13 07:17 PM

Originally Posted By: PianoBen
Hi,

Thanks so much for the feedback.
A post on the roadmap sounds great - I'll put one together.
I confess I am British! Hence the "crotchets, minims", etc.. I've tried to use quarter notes and half notes terminology as well.
Thanks.

P.S. out of interest, what do Americans say instead of "have a go at"?



Ha thought you were a fellow Brit Ben! Didn't know Americans don't say have a go!
Posted by: My Linh

Re: how to read music - 02/27/13 08:50 AM

Thank you, that's a great website. You must have put a lot of work into it!
Posted by: Chris Goslow

Re: how to read music - 02/27/13 10:34 AM

Originally Posted By: EdwardianPiano
Originally Posted By: PianoBen
Hi,

Thanks so much for the feedback.
A post on the roadmap sounds great - I'll put one together.
I confess I am British! Hence the "crotchets, minims", etc.. I've tried to use quarter notes and half notes terminology as well.
Thanks.

P.S. out of interest, what do Americans say instead of "have a go at"?



Ha thought you were a fellow Brit Ben! Didn't know Americans don't say have a go!


Lol... Americans DO say that! However, we don't say "crotchets" "minims" etc.

PianoBen, wow, this is a really cool site. Just curious, are you planning on turning this into a business, or do you intend to offer it up free? Even if you intend not to charge people for it, might I suggest you consider putting ads up on there. Because this is a great resource that I think a lot of people are going to want to use, and from a business stand point I see a real opportunity for you.
Way to go.
Posted by: JohnSprung

Re: how to read music - 03/03/13 02:34 AM



Here's something that you may find helpful, assuming that you want to teach how to read lead sheets and alphanumeric chord symbols.

Instead of doing all that dreary counting of half steps, I've borrowed the old idea of the slide rule to make a handy way of finding which keys to press. What you do is print out all these PDF's, then cut or fold the keyboard picture as indicated. Put it on top of any of the others with the tick mark for the root you want lined up with the "R", and the other tick marks are the tones of the chord you want. Since it's just a stack of paper, it's fairly easy to use at the piano, along with the paper sheet music.

Note that it's the *fallboard* edge of the keyboard picture that has the tick marks, because that's where all 12 tones are close enough to being equally spaced. Feel free to download these for your web site if you want.


http://www.pianoworld.com/Uploads/files/Chords-1.pdf

http://www.pianoworld.com/Uploads/files/Chords-2.pdf

http://www.pianoworld.com/Uploads/files/Chords-3.pdf

http://www.pianoworld.com/Uploads/files/Chords-4.pdf

http://www.pianoworld.com/Uploads/files/Chords-5.pdf

http://www.pianoworld.com/Uploads/files/Keyboard.pdf

Edit: Here's an explanation on how to use it:

http://www.pianoworld.com/Uploads/files/KeyChord.pdf
Posted by: btb

Re: how to read music - 03/03/13 03:13 AM

Hi Ben,

Everybody wants to get into the act of teaching theory via sight-reading ... but all hit the wall ... due to a system of notation which does not present an accurate graphic image of the pitch and duration of notes.
(The space between some of the five lines can variously indicate a pitch of anything from one to five semitones.)

You make an interesting study showing the measured linear relationship of major and minor triads (amongst others).

The pity is that this approach was not used from way back ... instead of adopting the distorted Middle Ages stave ... later complicated in use of the double stave for keyboard music.

Sorry about the broadside ... but there is no easy sight-reading solution with the present bum notation.
Posted by: RonR

Re: how to read music - 04/28/13 07:31 AM

I think your site is great for beginners who don't know the basics of reading music, but I am curious if you have any material on your site for improving sight reading speed. I know many musicians like myself, know how to read music, but we struggle with the speed of being able to play a brand new piece that is put in front of us. Any lessons/tips you have on that would be really useful. Thank you.
Posted by: Michael_99

Re: how to read music - 04/28/13 10:22 AM

PianoBen, I have read your post, here:

Am putting together a music theory site teaching people how to read music. Would love some feedback on it.
Am doing a mixture of videos and written lessons. Am not sure which works best - would love to hear some thoughts.

______________________________________________

The most fascinating thing about reading music is how easy it is.

First one has to learn the names of the notes on, below and above the staff.

The next thing is to know the note values for each note, regular and doted notes, rests and doted rests.

The next thing is to know the time signatures.

The next thing is learning to count the values of the notes in a measure.

Then you put beginner music that you are learning/reading/playing and proceed to play the music and read the music everyday for the rest of your life always reviewing day after day as you add new pieces and reviewing all the old pieces.

That is all there is to reading music.

The reason some people can't read music is because they don't know the names of the notes, they don't know the values of the notes, they don't know how to count the values of the notes within a measure and some people learn a piece and then once they learn the piece they think that is the end of playing the piece and the look for a new piece. But reading music is all about reading music constantly and reviewing music for the rest of your life.
Posted by: Michael_99

Re: how to read music - 04/28/13 11:27 AM

RonR, I have raad your post, here:


I think your site is great for beginners who don't know the basics of reading music, but I am curious if you have any material on your site for improving sight reading speed. I know many musicians like myself, know how to read music, but we struggle with the speed of being able to play a brand new piece that is put in front of us. Any lessons/tips you have on that would be really useful. Thank you.

____________________________________________

The simple answer is when you sit down and play a scale, you can play a scale at a greater speed than you can play music because you are playing only one note at a time of the same value. Very simple.

Now change the note to:


different notes
same notes
by 10 fingers
played at the same time
played at different times
note of different values
note of same values

That is what music is and that is what you have to teach your brain to do. And that is why you have to teach the brain to do it correctly because it is no good if you teach your brain do it wrong because your brain will read or play the note wrong at any speed if that is how you taught your brain to do it.

The reason you can play simple music for the first time is because you have lots of experience doing it for as long as you have been playing the piano.

As a kid we learn to drive around the block. If you take a kid onto a freeway of 8 lanes at rush hour he can't do it - no previous experience. Music is the same thing.

Posted by: RonR

Re: how to read music - 04/28/13 02:09 PM

The problem I have is when I see chord voicings that require reading 3 or 4 notes simultaneously in each staff, so a total of 7 notes at once. I look at it and freeze and have to name the notes 1 at a time. I have no problem reading from lead sheets, but it's playing full arrangements that I really struggle with.

Thanks.
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: how to read music - 04/28/13 02:32 PM

Originally Posted By: RonR
I think your site is great for beginners who don't know the basics of reading music, but I am curious if you have any material on your site for improving sight reading speed. I know many musicians like myself, know how to read music, but we struggle with the speed of being able to play a brand new piece that is put in front of us. Any lessons/tips you have on that would be really useful. Thank you.

Are we not realizing this thread is two months old, or what? wink
Posted by: RonR

Re: how to read music - 04/28/13 02:47 PM

yes, but learning to sight reading efficiently is eternal!
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: how to read music - 04/28/13 02:58 PM

Originally Posted By: RonR
yes, but learning to sight reading efficiently is eternal!

I'm a huge advocate of teaching students to sight-read, so I relent. ha
Posted by: RonR

Re: how to read music - 04/28/13 03:17 PM

I take private jazz piano lessons, and most of my lessons are working on ii-V-I voicings and improvising, and also working on scales and modes. For sight reading though, my teacher has me read through 2 pieces a day, but only playing them through twice, as anything more than that is memorizing and not reading. I think I have a tremendous teacher, yet I still struggle with sight reading. I am not sure if it's lack of confidence on my part, or if I need to focus more time on sight reading, or if it's just a mental block. I find it very frustrating that I can't seem to make progress in this area, because I feel I am advancing well in all other areas of music.
Posted by: Michael_99

Re: how to read music - 04/28/13 05:13 PM

RonR, I have read your post, here:

The problem I have is when I see chord voicings that require reading 3 or 4 notes simultaneously in each staff, so a total of 7 notes at once. I look at it and freeze and have to name the notes 1 at a time. I have no problem reading from lead sheets, but it's playing full arrangements that I really struggle with.

Thanks.

_______________________________________________

There are lots books called Jazz piano voicing skills with nothing but pages of chords like you said 3 and 4 notes per clef in all sorts of key signatures so you could read them or read them and play them until you can recognize the patterns and notes. Looking at them as a beginner piano player, I can read the notes okay, so it is note recognition, but I see one here I am looking at and the key signature is 4 sharps so I am in trouble because I only know 3 o 4 key signatures, so the issue is note recognition in addition to key signature so you have to know both well for sight reading. There are more than a dozen jazz piano voicing skills books at my local music store. This one I am looking at is by Dan Haerle - Jamey Aebersold jazz books that I have.

Posted by: RonR

Re: how to read music - 04/28/13 05:24 PM

Thanks Michael. I do a lot of drills with my teacher, so I know the voicings really well, when I know the chord by name, but when I see the notes in a song, I can't read them quickly enough.

For example I know in jazz, F-A-C-E, is a Dm7(not an F maj 7) voicing with the 3-5-7-9 as a rootless vocing. Yet when I see those 4 notes in the bass cleff, I don't quicly note that it's Dm7 voicing, and I have to think to myself it's F - A - C - E, and I have to read it 1 note at a time.
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: how to read music - 04/28/13 05:25 PM

But it can also be an F maj 7, in root position...
Posted by: keystring

Re: how to read music - 04/28/13 06:04 PM

Jazz isn't my area. Can I assume that the difference between a rootless Dm7 vs. a root position F(maj7) can be determined both by sound in the context, and the context?
Posted by: Michael_99

Re: how to read music - 04/28/13 06:23 PM

RonR, I have read your post, here:


Thanks Michael. I do a lot of drills with my teacher, so I know the voicings really well, when I know the chord by name, but when I see the notes in a song, I can't read them quickly enough.

For example I know in jazz, F-A-C-E, is a Dm7(not an F maj 7) voicing with the 3-5-7-9 as a rootless vocing. Yet when I see those 4 notes in the bass cleff, I don't quicly note that it's Dm7 voicing, and I have to think to myself it's F - A - C - E, and I have to read it 1 note at a time.

_______________________________________

Well, needless to say, I am miles away from voicings
but what was significant for me was constantly writing out, learning, reading and playing my - at this point - major scales above, on and below bass clef so recognition of bass clef and the key signatures, of course, was very helpful to me in my sight reading. When I played the sax I learned the treble clef then.

When you mentioned the bass clef - I understand that - because when you are learning to play the piano there is usually more going in the treble clef than in the bass clef at the start. But in Jazz and classical it is a totally a different story. Everything is happening everywhere at the same time.
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: how to read music - 04/28/13 06:40 PM

Originally Posted By: keystring
Jazz isn't my area. Can I assume that the difference between a rootless Dm7 vs. a root position F(maj7) can be determined both by sound in the context, and the context?

Yes, that's the point I was making. I think Ron intended to say that it CAN be a Dm7 rather than an Fmaj7, rather than that it MUST be.
Posted by: RonR

Re: how to read music - 04/28/13 07:30 PM

I was just giving an example of how if I am playing from a lead sheet and see the chord noted a Dm7, I may play any voicing in the left hand from D-F-A-C, or F-A-C-E, or A-C-D-F or C-E-F-A, etc. It all depends on what chord I am coming from as to what voicing makes the smoothest transition. The reason F-A-C-E is Dm7 and not Fmaj7 is: 1- In many cases I reach down and play a low D, as a bass note, then go up to the FACE voicing. So the D bass not makes it a Dm7. 2 - If I am playing in the key of C, and am playing ii-V-I, the ii will be a Dm7.

Sorry to get off track here, as I meant to focus this topic on sight reading, but just wanted to clarify the voicings I use.

So getting back to my sight reading struggles, when I see all those notes, that I can play from a lead sheet, how can I learn to quickly recognize them when trying to play exact arrangements. Is this something that is just going to take many, many years, or does it requre hours of practice a day specifially on just sight reading. With all the hours(2.5 on ave4age per day) I am already putting in, I would need to cut back on something else to give more attention to this. So just asking if the 20 - 25 minutes per day spent on sight reading is enough.
Posted by: earlofmar

Re: how to read music - 04/28/13 09:20 PM

Originally Posted By: RonR



So getting back to my sight reading struggles, when I see all those notes, that I can play from a lead sheet, how can I learn to quickly recognize them when trying to play exact arrangements. Is this something that is just going to take many, many years, or does it requre hours of practice a day specifially on just sight reading. With all the hours(2.5 on ave4age per day) I am already putting in, I would need to cut back on something else to give more attention to this. So just asking if the 20 - 25 minutes per day spent on sight reading is enough.


RonR, I have only been learning to sight read for five months so I am not qualified to comment, but heck I am not going to let that stop me. The main consensus of opinion is that we can only focus on sight reading for 15-30mins at a time. Consequently this is the daily recommended time to spend practicing SR.

Lots of web pages, blogs, forum posts are written about SR but I have yet to read someone actually describe the learning process in a cohesive manner. Just about every article is about the ten best tips.......just not enough information to anyone just starting out.

But to answer your question directly, note recognition is the first step, this then has to be augmented with interval recognition in addition to pattern recognition. Music is made up of repeated patterns, chord shapes that you mention are just one of those patterns. In my guitar lead sheets quite often the chords will not just show the name but a mini picture of the chord. Just as they became second nature to recognize and shape my fingers to the chord so must notated piano chords become instantly familiar. So this as you would realize is done by repetition, lots of it. The good news is your two hours a day practice also helps your sight reading, as it involves repetition, technique improvements, and spacial awareness just to name a few.
Posted by: RonR

Re: how to read music - 04/29/13 06:08 AM

Thank you for your reply. It makes sense, and I am glad to know I am practicing SR int he 15-30 minute range as you suggested.