Image via WikipediaTHE MUSIC ALPHABET IS MADE OF SEVEN LETTERS.
These are letters used over and over on the keyboard to name the white keys. When you play the music alphabet forward, you go up the keyboard to the right:
A B C D E F G. So when you play the music alphabet backward, you go down the keyboard to the left:
G F E D C B A.
1. Play the music alphabet both forward and backward in different places on the keyboard, using the second finger of either hand. Say the letters aloud as you play.
2. Memorize the music alphabet forward and backward.
It’s easy to find the white keys and know their names when you look for the sets of 2 and 3 black keys.
A IS BETWEEN THE 2ND AND 3RD KEYS IN THE 3 BLACK SET.
B IS TO THE RIGHT OF THE 3 BLACK KEY SET.
C IS TO THE LEFT OF THE 2 BLACK KEY SET.
D IS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE 2 BLACK KEY SET.
E IS TO THE RIGHT OF THE 2 BLACK KEY SET.
F IS TO THE LEFT OF THE 3 BLACK KEY SET.
G IS BETWEEN THE 1ST AND 2ND KEYS IN THE 3 BLACK KEY SET.
1. Shut your eyes
2. Touch sets of 2 and 3 black-keys with one hand. With the other hand find and name nearby white keys.
3. Memorize a picture of the keyboard.
C D E F G - FINGERING IS 5-4-3-2-1
C D E F G - FINGERING IS 1-2-3-4-5
Legato means to play smoothly, connecting the tones. To play legato, one finger lifts when another finger plays the next note. A slur is a curved line over or under two or more different notes that are to be played legato (smooth, connected). The slur is used to show a musical thought called a phrase. Lift your hand gently at the end of a phrase.
Staccato means to play short, separating the tones. A dot over or under a note means staccato. To play staccato, let the key go immediately after playing. Another name that I like to call staccato is “hot potato!” Quickly let go of the note!
A tie is a curved line that connects notes of the same pitch (notes on the same line or space.) Play the first note only and hold it for the value of both notes.
Half Note + Whole Note = 6 beats
2 beats + 4 beats = 6 Beats
Whole Note + Whole Note
4 Beats + 4 beats = 8 Beats
The staff has lines and spaces. Notes are written on lines or in spaces. The staff has 5 lines and 4 spaces. So then notes are placed either on lines or spaces. Number the lines from the bottom to the top. And number the spaces from the bottom to the top.
A clef sign is used at the beginning of each staff. There is a treble clef or G clef. It’s tail wraps around the 2nd line. High tones are written on a treble staff.
Bass clef or F clef on the 4th line with dots on either side of the 4th line. Low tones are written on a bass clef.
The Grand Staff
The bass and treble staffs are joined together by a brace to form the grand staff. I explain to my students that it is like the left hand shaking hands with the right hand. A short line is added between the staffs for middle C.
So when you are in a music store looking for a book to purchase, always look for the Grand Staff if you want to play the piano with both hands. Intermediate and advanced players look for Fake Books where they are given the right hand melody notes and chords for the left hand.
Whether you play smoothly or chunky, learning the music alphabet and applying where they are on the keyboard is fun. Once you learn to read notes you will have that gift for a lifetime and will be able to play any style of music with a bit of practice. Have fun reading and playing the notes. Eventually you’ll be jamming, not reading all the music notes and leaning more on listening for the progression... and that's another story.
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