Help with reading music...

Questions on learning to play the piano, and piano music.

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Steve_84
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Help with reading music...

Post by Steve_84 » 27 Feb 2009, 13:22

Ok I'm 24 and have recently started teaching myself to play the piano. I know the basics, and I have a good understanding of basic music theory, but I am finding playing along to sheet music SO HARD. I just can't seem to grasp it. I wanna get to the point where I see a note on the staff, and I know exactly which finger must hit what note, but I am finding it so hard. I have to play at a snails pace and even then it feels like its not getting easier. I will end up going through a basic piece so many times that I end up just memorizing which notes to hit, and I'm not even really reading the music any more lol.

Can anyone offer any tips or advice?

Also just to add one more thing I dont understand... I understand finger positions, in terms of 1,2,3,4,5 on C,D,E,F,G... but how do you know when your supposed to change these positions to reach other notes? In one piano book I have, it tells me when you 'move hand to new position', but without this, how are you supposed to know ahead of time when to do this? And not only that, but how do you know WHICH new position to move it to? I dont understand...

Thanks in advance...

markymark
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Re: Help with reading music...

Post by markymark » 27 Feb 2009, 17:13

A lot of what you are talking about comes from hands-on experience. I'm 28 and have been playing for the past 17 years and am at the point where I can scan music. Think back to your Year R at school... you didn't have any key vocabularly, fragmentary and unapplied knowledge of sounds and therefore weren't able to read words. Slowly but steadily that experience was built up until you can sit down today and probably scan through the paper, TV guide without having to stop and sound out syllables. It's exactly the same with developing your sight-reading.

There is a good range that guides your through the sight-reading process. The range is called "Improve Your Sight Reading" by Paul Harris which I have used as a learner in the past and from time to time will dip into the Grade 8 to brush up and keep the skill going.

Remember that sight-reading is different from how you would approach a piece of music for a performance or exam. The latter is surrounded by lots of preparation and practice whereas sight-reading is trying to convey the piece as accurately as possible. The more experience you have of sight-reading and working with music, the more confident and competent you will get in this area. The important thing is not to tackle music that is too hard in the early phases.

Moonlight
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Re: Help with reading music...

Post by Moonlight » 27 Feb 2009, 17:29

Hi Steve and welcome!

This is what I did when I was a complete beginner: have a look at a pice of easy music ( or even a piece of hard music! ) and try to recite the names of the notes in that piece at a steady pace. Do this everyday until you become familar with all the names of the notes on the staves and in the legger lines. Learn maybe a few lines and spaces at a time, so only use pieces to recite the notes that cover the range of notes you are learning at the time. Then gradually increase the range. - hope this makes some sense.

There is also a good set of sight reading books you can get called: Improve your sight reading! by Paul Harris. These are very useful books that start you of with very easy things to read at sight with hands in five finger position and in C major in 4/4, but then steadly move to other keys finger postions and time signatures. These books are graded so obviously the grade one book is for beginners, the books are designed to prepare you for the ABRSM sight reading tests, but are helpful if you want to do the tests or not. :)
I stongly recomend these books they have even helped me these few weeks! as long as you do some of the sight reading exercises everyday! :wink:

As for finger positions playing scales will help you a lot, as most fingering is realy just taken from scale fingering - from my observations . As you are a beginner the pieces you will be starting with will be in C major with your hands in five finger postion ( CDEFG or 12345). But then you will move on to the rest of the notes and your hand position will change as you will need to know your C major scale in order to move your hand(s) out of the five finger position. So my advice is to learn the C major scale and this should hopefully help you with moving out of the five finger postion, as now your fingering will be Right Hand: 123 12345 or CDE FGABC and Left hand: 123 12345 CBA GFEDC and that is C major.

- hope this helps you. I'm not a piano teacher, I'm also a beginner I stated re-learning the piano last year! if I don't make sense i'm sure the other experienced guys on here like Marky, Descomes, Gill can help you! :D

Moonlight
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Re: Help with reading music...

Post by Moonlight » 27 Feb 2009, 17:32

awwwwww Beaten to it! :( by Mark and Dave. I thought I was gonna be the first to help out, :lol: See how helpful we all are!
:piano;

Steve_84
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Re: Help with reading music...

Post by Steve_84 » 27 Feb 2009, 17:42

Thank you for the responses guys. I really appreciate it!

I guess I will just stick at it and take it step by step. My problem is I get impatient lol. Being 24, I know its not old at all but I feel like I've wasted so much time in the past not learning, I just wanna make up for lost time. But I will definately take on board what you have all said, and I will keep you updated on my progress :)

markymark
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Re: Help with reading music...

Post by markymark » 27 Feb 2009, 17:48

Moonlight wrote: There is also a good set of sight reading books you can get called: Improve your sight reading! by Paul Harris
Is there an echo in here? :P

Moonlight
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Re: Help with reading music...

Post by Moonlight » 27 Feb 2009, 17:58

markymark wrote:
Is there an echo in here? :P
Maybe the acoustics in the forum need sorting out, unless there is two piano playing parrots in here somewhere? :| :mrgreen:

Gill the Piano
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Re: Help with reading music...

Post by Gill the Piano » 27 Feb 2009, 20:35

Mark, I saw a book on a piano I tuned the other day, and it was something like 'Sight reading a Line A Day' or something like that. Any good, d'you know? Seemed a good, non-intimidating idea!
I play for my own amazement... :piano;

ETP's Mum
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Re: Help with reading music...

Post by ETP's Mum » 28 Feb 2009, 16:00

Hi Mark

I'm new to this forum lark too and not a teacher but I'd like to help a little if I can. I was always taught to "finger" the pieces before I started learning them. ie you sit down at the piano with a pencil slow time and work out in advance which finger is best for each note. That way you can concentrate on which note you are supposed to be playing and the fingering is already written there so your brain doesn't have to work out 2 things at once!

Hope this helps!

markymark
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Re: Help with reading music...

Post by markymark » 28 Feb 2009, 18:15

ETP's Mum wrote:I was always taught to "finger" the pieces before I started learning them. ie you sit down at the piano with a pencil slow time and work out in advance which finger is best for each note.

Hope this helps!
Steve_84, this would be a good tip for starting off. The Paul Harris stuff also tries to train you to plan ahead to make sure that you will have fingers free to be able to move up or down the keyboard by examining the shape of the melody. Observing shape of melody is a very good way of thinking ahead.

markymark
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Re: Help with reading music...

Post by markymark » 28 Feb 2009, 18:20

Gill the Piano wrote:Mark, I saw a book on a piano I tuned the other day, and it was something like 'Sight reading a Line A Day' or something like that. Any good, d'you know? Seemed a good, non-intimidating idea!
There are so many books out using the same basic prinicipal that short, focused rehearsals always produce better results than long, hard slogs as far as sight-reading goes anyway. I haven't heard of that particular one tho...

Steve_84
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Re: Help with reading music...

Post by Steve_84 » 01 Mar 2009, 16:25

I don't know how well this will go down here...lol, but the main reason I am trying to learn piano is because I am really trying to improve my production skills for RnB and Hip Hop beats that I make in my project studio at home....

I am a massive fan of piano riffs in beats and rather than basically hitting and hoping, I want to gain a solid understanding of which notes and chords go well together, which notes and chords to use if I wanted to make an emotional, deep sound etc...

Just to give a better understanding, I dont know how many people here are hip hop fans, but here's a link to a song similar to the kind of thing I want to be able to produce:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IG5ReXP0SSg

What would be the best way of learning the piano for this kind of thing?

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