Sunday, February 20, 2011

Thoughts on Note Reading

Question: I'm getting frustrated with learning to read music. Do you have any hints on how to solve this problem?

Spend a few minutes a day, just reading music. I know it's a struggle at this point. If you work on it extensively, it will get better. Progress may seem slow at first, but it will get better.

At the same time use your other senses to figure out a melody. Your memory is one. Repetition is the key to that. Play the same song ten times a day every day, and in a few weeks it should sound close to perfect. You're learning it.

I assume you are only trying to play songs that are familiar to you at this time. Familiarity is another one of the senses. If you know the song, depend on your familiarity when trying to recreate it on the piano. Remember that reading music is just a tool. Don't get hung up on the fine points of deciphering notes on a page. That isn't the goal. That's just a means to an end. Curtail the reading, and start using your heart.

Your intuition is another sense you can use. Take a guess. And if you hit a wrong note, don't react to it. Just keep going. It's much better to protect the integrity of the flow of the song than to micro manage the correct playing of each note.

This too gets easier and more accurate with time.

Some noted jazz players will tell you there aren't any wrong notes. There are just ways the artist controls the contrasting dissonance of the melody. This concept isn't as New Agey as it sounds. But it will be a while before you get to this level of controlling dissonance.

Here's something else you can start to do in about six to nine months. Begin learning the major scales in all twelve keys. Volume Two of Hanon or any scale book can help you with that.

You are at the beginning of your journey. And you have a long way to go. And you'll never arrive at your destination. You just keep getting closer to it. Make sure you have plenty of fun along the way.


Resources:

Free Pamphlet on Note Reading:

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Instructional CD and booklet:

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing this blog post. Sight reading music is an important skill to be mastered. Learning to read music is very much like learning to read a new language - it takes practice and discipline.

    I often noticed most children find it struggling to read the bass line notes as they get confused with the treble clef notes. A good way is to focus on reading bass clef notes for a few days and then switched back to the treble clef notes.

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