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Cheat sheet to learn reading notes (Read 7025 times)

Offline agajewski

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Cheat sheet to learn reading notes
« on: January 28, 2013, 09:00:56 AM »
Hello,

When I first started to learn reading notation, I noticed how slow it was to pick up sheet music and try to play. So I made a cheat sheet for myself and it really did help in the beginning to overcome the hardest part of learning process.

For those who struggle with learning basics of sight reading, I have created a cheat sheet with notes and their names.

All C notes are colored red for easier recognition and Middle C is colored blue on both treble and bass clefs.

Print it out, laminate it if you wish and use it on your music rest next to sheet music. In no time, you'll notice you don't need it anymore.

http://www.arturgajewski.com/piano/Notes.pdf

Enjoy! :)
- Artur Gajewski

Working on:
Beethoven - Fur Elise
Chopin - Waltz in A minor

Offline perfect_pitch

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Re: Cheat sheet to learn reading notes
«Reply #1 on: January 28, 2013, 09:30:17 AM »
Unfortunately I disagree with this method. I try and encourage from day one for students to either memorise the notes they play. I help them identify the notes from a physical point of view on the piano, and when they are comfortable with that, I get them to identify the correlate those with the written note on the piano.

I prefer to give them ways and methods to memorise the notes, rather than label them simply for reference. After all, it's best if you show a child how to work out their multiplication tables, than simply get them to memorise all of them.

I think it was a nice thought, but personally I think it's a bad idea as a lot of people will resort to just looking at it, instead of critically thinking of the relationship between the lines/spaces and the letter names. It's definitely nicely presented (except for the fact that you've labelled the 'H' letter, which is if I'm not mistaken used for B, and it's only used in German music), but I wouldn't recommend a sheet like that.

If I were you though, I encourage the use of displaying the 'EGBDF lines and FACE spaces etc' so they have to use a mnemonic device to work them out. This seems more logical to me, and easier than trying to memorise the notes in order. When they are very fluent with identifying, then you can make the correlation between the notes in the lines and spaces put together rise through the alphabet.

Offline agajewski

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Re: Cheat sheet to learn reading notes
«Reply #2 on: January 28, 2013, 09:47:45 AM »
In many northern European country B is written as H and Bb as B. I don't know why but I am from one of those countries and always like to include both when doing a printed material.

Why wouldn't you recommend notation that uses H? It's like saying you don't recommend Celsius to display temperature because you use Fahrenheit. In my opinion, learning variety enriches ones capabilities.

I started out with American tutorials on piano and grew into using only B. I went to a library one day and picked up very interesting material on music theory which used H and B as Bb and I was instantly lost since I didn't know what H was. Now, I can handle both ways.

As to my material, as I said it is a cheat sheet. It is a resource you can turn to when you are in doubt of a note in a sheet music or if you just can't remember mnemonics or anything else. Cheat sheets are not meant to be memorized.  ;)

Kids learn math from a structural point of view. First 3x5 is structured so that three is multiplied five times. As an adult, though, are you still structuring the same mathematical formula or have you learned by memorizing that 3x5 equals fifteen?
- Artur Gajewski

Working on:
Beethoven - Fur Elise
Chopin - Waltz in A minor

Offline p2u_

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Re: Cheat sheet to learn reading notes
«Reply #3 on: January 28, 2013, 09:53:51 AM »
In many northern European country B is written as H and Bb as B. I don't know why

Most likely in an attempt to avoid confusion with the flat sign (b). If you call Bb -> B, then B becomes H (we had a "G" already as the highest letter in the alphabet); problem solved.

Paul
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No more pearls before swine...

Offline agajewski

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Re: Cheat sheet to learn reading notes
«Reply #4 on: January 28, 2013, 10:06:41 AM »
I've read something about Bach being behind it with the Bach motif...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BACH_motif
- Artur Gajewski

Working on:
Beethoven - Fur Elise
Chopin - Waltz in A minor

Offline p2u_

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Re: Cheat sheet to learn reading notes
«Reply #5 on: January 28, 2013, 10:12:43 AM »
I've read something about Bach being behind it with the Bach motif...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BACH_motif

I don't think Bach was THAT important. The system existed already before he was born. My guess is that it could have something to do with the German word hart, in the meaning of firm, strict, unmodified.

Paul
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No more pearls before swine...

Offline agajewski

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Re: Cheat sheet to learn reading notes
«Reply #6 on: January 28, 2013, 10:19:25 AM »
You're right, H was before Bach but he used it in his compositions.

Detailed anatomy of note H: http://tonalsoft.com/enc/g/german-h.aspx
- Artur Gajewski

Working on:
Beethoven - Fur Elise
Chopin - Waltz in A minor

Offline perfect_pitch

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Re: Cheat sheet to learn reading notes
«Reply #7 on: January 28, 2013, 11:22:02 AM »
Why wouldn't you recommend notation that uses H?

Easy - because if you DID, then that would mean the chromatic scale goes A, Bb, H, C, C#... etc...

Personally I think that's just stupid, considering that if you omit the H represent B, then all the alphabetical letters run in succession without interruption, especially when you play the piano and the white keys appear:   A, B, C, D, E, F, G. The simplicity of it seems to make sense.

And unfortunately your analogy to the Fahrenheit to Celsius is flawed because the numbers in each measure run continuously and that the higher the number, the higher the temperature... without any exception to the rule. They numbers ascend linearly and steadily.

And I know that 3x5 is 15 because I have worked it out so many times I've memorised it, but my main point was that I didn't work out my multiplication tables by memorising all the different combinations of 2x2, 3x8 etc... I worked them out by calculating them... by using a method to work it out for myself, without using a reference sheet.

I was also informed that B can be used as H in german countries (when I first heard about it, I thought it was only limited to Germany, however I was 11 at the time), but personally I find it just stupid. I've got 6 year olds who can remember the nmemonics for the lines and spaces of the treble and bass clefs, so I don't really see the need for a cheat sheet.

As I said though - it is nicely presented, and it is very clear and precise, but I wouldn't recommend it to my students at all. That's just my teaching style.

Offline sucom

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Re: Cheat sheet to learn reading notes
«Reply #8 on: January 28, 2013, 11:29:47 AM »
Unfortunately, it’s not just remembering the note names on the staff which is difficult for new students.  It is also being able to name and locate a key on the piano quickly. There are two processes going on here.

My method is to take a treble clef staff and write the note middle C.  From that point, we then number the lines of the treble clef staff upwards, 12345.  I would then write a note on a line at random and ask which line it is on, 1 2 3 4 or 5 and continue this with notes on every line.
Then we move to the keyboard.  Starting on middle C and saying middle C out loud, we then move up alternate keys while saying 1 2 3 4 5.  We practise this a lot until it’s really easy for the student to move quickly upwards through alternate keys while saying the numbers out loud.  Middle C, 1 2 3 4 5.  Middle C, 1 2 3 4 5, several times.

I then draw a random note on the treble clef staff and ask them to count up through the piano keys in the same way, until they reach the line number.  At this point they have found the note, even if they don’t remember what the letter name of the note actually is.  This is a useful exercise because it means I no longer hear students telling me they couldn’t practise a piece because they didn’t know what note it started on, or, worse, they didn’t know which hand position to start in! (Another issue - knowing a hand position doesn’t help once the student moves beyond 5 notes and shouldn’t therefore be used at all)

At the same time, I will ask them to learn ‘Every good boy does fine’ and ‘Face’.  This often takes time because students tend to find this difficult for some reason.  I’m not going to suggest a lack of effort but I have to admit it does cross my mind sometimes.

After students can find all the line notes in the treble clef, we move to the bass clef only this time, I point out the middle C is at the top of the ladder and that we should count 54321 backwards down through the lines and at the same time, move downwards, skipping alternate keys on the piano.  So starting at middle C, the student will say out loud, Middle C, 54321.  We practise this several times, then find random line notes on the keyboard as for the treble clef.

 At the same time, I will ask them to learn ‘Great big dogs from Africa’ and ‘All Cows Eat Grass’.

When a note is in a space, we find the nearest line and move up (or down for the bass clef) through alternate piano keys until we find that line.  When they reach the nearest line, I ask them if the note in the space is higher or lower.  Then, knowing that notes move through lines and spaces, they simply move up or down to find the note next door.

I often teach note reading through the idea of intervals on the keyboard which I find is more helpful than trying to ‘remember’ note names.

Remembering note names has always appeared to be one of the most difficult things to do when learning the piano.  So often, students mix up the sentences for the treble and bass clef, or I hear a random mix of two sentences.  And even if they do remember the sentences, they still have problems actually locating the correct piano key.  I have found that the method I have outlined above has noticeably reduced the number of students having problems finding notes either in the lesson or when practising on their own at home.  It has worked so well that I now use it all the time.



Offline agajewski

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Re: Cheat sheet to learn reading notes
«Reply #9 on: January 28, 2013, 11:33:08 AM »
perfect_pitch, whatever floats your boat I guess :)
- Artur Gajewski

Working on:
Beethoven - Fur Elise
Chopin - Waltz in A minor

Offline sucom

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Re: Cheat sheet to learn reading notes
«Reply #10 on: January 28, 2013, 11:42:28 AM »
Hi agajewski

To be honest, when I first started the piano, I had a very handy piece of card that slotted behind my piano keys to show me where all the notes were.  Something similar to the one I had can be found at http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0014436DE/ref=oh_details_o05_s00_i00

In my opinion, anything that can help someone to read music is going to be helpful and your chart would really be a handy reference to put at the side of the music to help find the notes. I wouldn't dismiss it at all.  Everything helps!

Offline agajewski

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Re: Cheat sheet to learn reading notes
«Reply #11 on: January 28, 2013, 12:50:40 PM »
sucom,

Yeah world is full of little things for beginners... and I created yet another one :D
- Artur Gajewski

Working on:
Beethoven - Fur Elise
Chopin - Waltz in A minor

Offline nyiregyhazi

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Re: Cheat sheet to learn reading notes
«Reply #12 on: January 28, 2013, 03:59:15 PM »
To be honest, I have to say that this comes across as the bad kind of cheat sheet. It doesn't inspire thought or learning, but simply leaves you with a way of looking up information. There's too much there for it to be likely to sink in from referencing it. The only notes that are particularly likely to sink in are the Cs, due to the different colour. Why does middle C need to be blue though? Shouldn't that be recognised anyway? Why not just ditch all the other notes and only learn what middle C looks first (without confusing yourself with too much information)? There's no excuse for having to look up middle C. It should be the first reference point to memorise. If a student forgets that, they're only going to confuse themself by looking at a wealth of other keys. It should stand out based on it's own characteristics. It's better to learn smaller amounts properly and gradually build from there. If you had a chart featuring all the times tables as a cheat sheet, would you be likely to commit to memory by referencing it (if you didn't already know them)? If there's too much information you tend to learn none of it.

Personally, the cheat sheet I use contains nothing but the spaces for each clef and middle C. That way, if they can't read a note straight off, they have to use THOUGHT rather than merely cheat, whenever a line comes up. It makes a small amount of information sink in properly- rather than leave you looking up so many different pieces of information that you forget them right away. Once you know your spaces well, it's only a matter of time before you no longer have to think about how to calculate the lines either.

As another poster said, people get confused with two mnemonics for each clef. It's much easier only to learn the spaces and start using some basic intelligence to initially calculate but then go on to memorise the rest.

Offline keypeg

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Re: Cheat sheet to learn reading notes
«Reply #13 on: January 28, 2013, 04:57:12 PM »
A small suggestion.  The easiest note to recognize on the piano is not C, but D.  It is the note between the two black keys.  Then if you use the two fingers that stick out for V for Victor, and put them between the three black keys, you have GA.  That leaves F,B on the outside of the three blacks, and C,E on the outside of the two blacks. Another way of viewing things.  :)

Offline agajewski

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Re: Cheat sheet to learn reading notes
«Reply #14 on: January 28, 2013, 06:03:31 PM »
Why does middle C need to be blue though? Shouldn't that be recognised anyway?

I made this change based on some tips I received from people:

Quote
The Cheatsheet you provide seems to suggest that there are two lines (A,C) located between the treble clef and the bass clef. You and I know that is not true, but I think a beginner will be confused by that notation initially.

So the blue C informs that you can extend clefs below or above middle C as well.

I'm not trying to force this cheat sheet to anyone. If you don't like it, don't use it. Simple as that. I offer it to those who might have a need for it or like it.

As a web developer by profession, I use lots of cheat sheets for unit testing, framework commands and such. Doesn't mean I don't kno the stuff or that I use it to learn anything. Sometimes there just is a block between two synapses and its nice to have a backup.

That said, I'm done with arguing about correct teaching methods and note names ;)
- Artur Gajewski

Working on:
Beethoven - Fur Elise
Chopin - Waltz in A minor

Offline keypeg

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Re: Cheat sheet to learn reading notes
«Reply #15 on: January 28, 2013, 06:45:07 PM »
nm

Offline keypeg

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Re: Cheat sheet to learn reading notes
«Reply #16 on: January 28, 2013, 06:47:21 PM »

I'm not trying to force this cheat sheet to anyone. If you don't like it, don't use it. Simple as that. I offer it to those who might have a need for it or like it.

That said, I'm done with arguing about correct teaching methods and note names ;)
You are offering a teaching device.  It is appropriate for teachers to look at the pros and cons of it, because people end up having problems through teaching devices.

Offline nyiregyhazi

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Re: Cheat sheet to learn reading notes
«Reply #17 on: January 28, 2013, 09:58:28 PM »
Quote
So the blue C informs that you can extend clefs below or above middle C as well.

I'm not trying to force this cheat sheet to anyone. If you don't like it, don't use it. Simple as that. I offer it to those who might have a need for it or like it.

I appreciate your good intentions, but I think cheat sheets need to come with a severe warning. This is equivalent to cheating by copying the answers from somebody else's maths homework. If you work this way, you won't learn much- other than how to get through a single moment in time without having to think for yourself. When I use a cheat sheet that only involves spaces, for students, they can decipher any note with recourse to the type of procedures that must be developed for any hope of fluent reading (and the small amount of information means there's no overload- they easily end up learning such a small amount of information from the process). A cheat sheet that doesn't inspire either thought or development of memory gives superficial help that gives only short-term improvement- before going on to impose severe limits in terms of how things can go forward from there.


Offline nyiregyhazi

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Re: Cheat sheet to learn reading notes
«Reply #18 on: January 28, 2013, 10:04:51 PM »
A small suggestion.  The easiest note to recognize on the piano is not C, but D.  It is the note between the two black keys.  Then if you use the two fingers that stick out for V for Victor, and put them between the three black keys, you have GA.  That leaves F,B on the outside of the three blacks, and C,E on the outside of the two blacks. Another way of viewing things.  :)

I don't see anything wrong with this, but is this really the hard part? Personally, I get students to learn C and F (as notes to the left of groups of black keys). From there, they just learn the rest of their own accord. The only memorisation needed beyond that is of the alphabet from A to G (forwards and backwards) and the rest falls into place. I've very rarely had a student struggle to understand the concept of C and F (at least, not ones who were doing a basic amount of practise). The hard part is not usually learning how to associate letters to keys, but associating lines or spaces to letters/corresponding piano keys. Most students I've had were already able to figure out how to play such words as CABBAGE in the first lesson. Tying the notation in to the keys is usually where the struggle arises.

Offline agajewski

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Re: Cheat sheet to learn reading notes
«Reply #19 on: January 29, 2013, 07:21:20 AM »
Most students I've had were already able to figure out how to play such words as CABBAGE in the first lesson. Tying the notation in to the keys is usually where the struggle arises.

Which is weird to me since to me it seemed more difficult to recognize what note is on the fifth line, not where the D is located on the piano. So in my case and in many other's that I stumbled upon with reading problems were how to tie lines and spaces into note names, not they keys.
- Artur Gajewski

Working on:
Beethoven - Fur Elise
Chopin - Waltz in A minor

Offline nyiregyhazi

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Re: Cheat sheet to learn reading notes
«Reply #20 on: February 04, 2013, 11:10:06 AM »
Which is weird to me since to me it seemed more difficult to recognize what note is on the fifth line, not where the D is located on the piano. So in my case and in many other's that I stumbled upon with reading problems were how to tie lines and spaces into note names, not they keys.

What's weird? That's the same point I was making- that it's easy to identify keys by letter, but harder to get certainty on which note the notation refers to.