Why can't I read music?

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Why can't I read music?

Postby Hugh-AR » 15 Sep 2017 00:25

I have come across The Landmark System for reading music (well, individual notes) so if you, like me, 'cannot read music' and have already read the discussion we have had about this .. skip straight to this post by clicking this LINK below:

viewtopic.php?f=322&t=5595#p45088

I never have been able to read music. I'm OK with chords written on the music. If I see A, or D7, or Ebm, or Fnat7, or Fdim I'm fine. My left hand will play that chord immediately, and will play whatever inversion of that chord sounds best in the situation I'm in. But 'reading the dots'? If I saw the notes F, A and C on the Stave I would not connect those notes as being the chord of F. D, F# and A? I can't even get into my head which of those are 'on the lines', and which are 'in the spaces'; let alone recognise that this is the chord of D.

Then I came across a Video that said, "HOW TO READ MUSIC IN 15 MINUTES" At last! Give me 15 mins then and I'll be away!



Well, I think I knew all that from about the age of 8. Maybe they should re-word the video to HOW TO UNDERSTAND MUSIC THEORY IN 15 MINUTES. This is not the same as reading music.

When my two granddaughters were at primary school I took them once a week to 'Keyboard Lessons' (out of school). The music books they used had the 'letters' written inside the notes, supposedly to help them identify which notes to play on the keyboard. Wish they didn't do that, as they may as well have written the notes along a straight line, as the grandchildren were just reading the letters to play the notes and not referring to the position of the note on the stave. After two years of this they were getting absolutely nowhere (and weren't enjoying the lessons), so I stopped the lessons.

Then some time later, at Christmas, my eldest granddaughter asked me to put some music up on my organ (I had a Farfisa in those days) and she would accompany me on her recorder (which she was playing at school) for a carol. I thought to myself, no way is this girl going to be able to do that! But she surprised me by playing the melody perfectly while I played the chords that were written on the music. When I questioned her about how she had done that she said, "Well, this note is putting my finger over this hole; and that note is putting my finger over that hole .. and so on". "So you don't know that the notes have letters then?" "No", she said.

Maybe I can learn something from all this. I think I must identify the note on the Stave with which note it corresponds to on the keyboard .. forget the letters!

But I have taken note (if you'll pardon the pun) of what he said in the video about the 'rhythm' aspect of a note. Ignore it. I can play the notes according to how I hear them played. It's which notes to play that is the important bit.

Hugh
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Re: Why can't I read music?

Postby Brian007 » 15 Sep 2017 10:33

Hi Hugh,

An interesting video with regards to reading music, I can read music but not sight read fast enough to play straight off a piece of sheet music.
My problem is I can play by ear pretty well, as in my youth sheet music wasn't always that easy to get hold of and relatively expensive so I had
to learn most stuff by ear, mind having said that music was a lot simpler I recon back in the 60s.

So while I can read music I look and see what key it's in, and read it through a few times and just have a go, but then I find my playing by ear starts to kick in
and I am playing it the way I think it should be and not always the way the music is written. But having said that I an not a professional musician and get by
and am relatively happy with what I turn out.

All the best Hugh,

Brian007
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Re: Why can't I read music?

Postby papadeedee » 15 Sep 2017 15:16

Hi Hugh,

I saw Julian Bradley's video and although I like him, I avoided looking at this one. It takes years to learn to read music.
Think of all the keys, major and minor and all of the the different key signatures etc.
There is reading and there is what could be described as decoding. I do a bit of both depending on how difficult the piece is.
If it is not too demanding, I read, if it is difficult, I decode. (i.e. break it down bit by bit)
Generally speaking, I believe piano is more difficult than organ. e.g. Big jumps with the left hand without taking your eyes off the music.
Also when you think about the organ, reading three lines at a time, bass pedal notes, sometimes four notes in left hand and three or four notes
in right hand. You are reading vertically and horizontally. Years of practice. Normally, my eyes recognise chords on the staff because of repetition.

OF COURSE YOU COULD READ MUSIC, you probably tend to play the chord symbols out of habit, I do. I normally select the inversion which is closest to
the previous chord I have played. If you look at my videos, you will see that my left hand is roughly always in the same position.
Chords sound best somewhere around middle C.
I took piano lessons when I was a boy. After I went into The Merchant Navy, I gave up playing for years.
When I revived my interest in playing piano, I worked my way through the Alfred's adult piano course.
When I got the EL70, I went through all seven of the Kenneth Baker Books. I had not ever played bass pedals prior to that.
I think the Alfred's course was really helpful in boosting my reading skills.

Brian
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Re: Why can't I read music?

Postby Hugh-AR » 15 Sep 2017 17:57

Brian and Brian,

Thank you both for your comments. I really am determined to get to grips with identifying a note on the keys with it's position on the stave .. and forget the letters.

One Christmas, several years ago, Bronwyn bought me some lessons from a local music teacher .. with the objective of him teaching me how to read music. In his spare time he used to play a keyboard at a country pub just out of town. Well, he duly arrived .. and asked me to play him something. So I did, and then he asked me. "What are you doing with your feet?". And he showed me several ways of playing an 'ad lib' bass part. Maybe 'walking up' or 'walking down' with the bass between chords; or playing a little 'melody' with the pedals to fit in with the tune (as a bass singer would do in a choir). Then this led on to what I was doing on the Upper and the Lower. Like I could jump down from the Upper to the Lower as I was playing, and have a different sound on each. Or maybe hold notes on the Upper whilst playing some notes on the Lower at the same time. I was really grateful for him sorting out some of my organ technique, but as you've probably guessed, he never did teach me how to read music.

Then one evening I went out to the country pub to hear him play. Just brilliant! But I noticed he never had any music up in front of him. So I asked him why not. "What would I want to do that for?" he said. "The arrangement on a music score has been written by somebody else, and not what I want to play. And what I can hear in a piece of music, more often than not is not written into the music anyway." So I asked him, "Why, then, are you coming up to me to teach me how to read music?" And his reply, "Because your wife asked me to!"

I shall sort it. So long as I can get off this computer and get some time to sit at my organ!

Hugh
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Re: Why can't I read music?

Postby SysExJohn » 16 Sep 2017 11:54

Like your granddaughter, I learned to play the oboe by understanding what combinations of holes to open or to close with a note on a score.
That seems like a hundred years ago, but is actually only fifty!
I didn't persevere, and now wish I had, but I'd like to play the keyboard a bit now I'm retired.

I too wanted to be able to play from "the dots".
I chose to learn piano technique and bought a book called "It's Never Too Late to Play Piano".
It starts from real basics, most of the theory of which I know.
It's a question of getting the fingers to follow the dots.

If we are already an accomplished player to some extent, it can seem awfully slow progress working through such a book.
Having extreme patience with oneself and doing a bit of work every day, it shouldn't be hours, will gradually get your fingers automatically following the dots.
It takes time, especially so as one gets older, I'm 71, to get "muscle memory" trained.

And this is the key to learning to read and play a score, take your time and be very patient with yourself.
It won't come in a day or a week, but you'll see that you can gradually make progress.
After some time you'll see a note on a score and your finger will move automatically to the correct place.

Again, it takes time and a great deal of patience and practise, practise, practise.
I hope that's of some help?
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Re: Why can't I read music?

Postby kens » 16 Sep 2017 14:53

Hi!.
Its like riding a bike. Once you have mastered it you always have it. When I get a new book of music I like to sit down and read through it. I can hear the sound in my head by looking at the staves. As a start I suggest look at the treble ( usually right hand ) stave of a simple piece in C. Start by remembering the spaces spell FACE.Those are notes of middle C on the keyboard. Once you are confident you can recognise those notes you then progress to the lines EGBDF Which fit nicely in between the spaces. Similarly you need to practice playing FACE on the keyboard until its in your head. Then do the full EFGABCDEF. Its boring but if you are determined you will do it.Until you have those basics just forget different keys with sharps and flats. All they do is to change the pitch half a tone and are relatively easy to learn once you have the basics.We wont talk about note lengths for now.
After all that its best to bear in mind that unless you want to be classical and play as originally written, ideally you should use the manuscript as a guide and add or subtract notes using your own interpretation making your playing original.
Confused yet Ken
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Re: Why can't I read music?

Postby Ron » 25 Sep 2017 12:59

In a few words, start young and practise, practise, practise.

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Re: Why can't I read music?

Postby VAL7JEAN » 29 Sep 2017 15:53

My problem has been throughout my playing career has been NOT able to memorize the music.
Certainly lost a lot of gigs because of it.
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Re: Why can't I read music?

Postby Rev Tony Newnham » 30 Sep 2017 08:47

Hi

I normally have the music in front of me when I play - at least as a guide for improvising different chords, etc. I can play a few pieces from memory, but I've never tried to memorise music - as a mainly church musician I get through far too much each week to consider it! I've not (yet) lost a gig through playing from the music. It also helps that I was always pretty good at sight-reading - which had the downside that when I was learning, I didn't practice enough!

Every Blessing

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Re: Why can't I read music?

Postby Hugh-AR » 19 Feb 2018 23:10

Some hints from Peter Hayward on how to read notes more quickly. Work from 'intervals' rather than working out what the actual notes are. Come to think of it, I was in the choir at school and sang bass. What I sang was all based on 'intervals' as there was no point in knowing what the actual notes were!

Improve Your Music Reading - Peter Hayward



Hugh
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Re: Why can't I read music?

Postby Hugh-AR » 27 Jan 2019 14:59

The Landmark System

I had decided my problem with reading music stems from me never being able to get away from reading out those mnemonics to myself .. Every Good Boy Deserves Fruit; FACE; All Cows Eat Grass; and Good Boys Deserve Fruit Always. This allows me to 'identify' notes, but is no good for 'reading music'.

So I was very pleased to come across another way of looking at reading notes in music that I think will suit me to the ground. It's called The Landmark System. Here is the explanation .. and he does mention about getting hooked on those mnemonics.



I already know instinctively that 'top C' is in the third space up; and 'bottom C' is in the third space down; so there's hope for me yet!

Hugh
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Re: Why can't I read music?

Postby dentyr » 27 Apr 2019 08:24

Hello, So you say you can't read music. Try this. I have the English translation from the original Dutch.



Regards, Den.
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