Top 10 Ways To Improve Your Sight Reading

by Tania Gleaves on April 20, 2014

Looking for the top 10 ways to improve your sight reading? 1. Learn every bit of notation that you can get your hands on. The more notation that you learn, the easier it is to interpret the notes you see. Don’t just stop at the basics. Go on to learn intermediate notation and advanced notation. Sure, the deeper that you delve into notation, the more advanced and complicated the music becomes — but don’t let that scare you. You’re in the learning stage right now, so have at it. You’ll thank yourself for all the hard studying you’ve done once you’re placed into the spotlight.

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2. Check out the key. When you’re faced with a piece of sheet music, look at the key. This will quickly let you know which notes are sharp and which notes are flat. 3. Try to hum the song before playing it. If the crowd that you’re playing for is patient, give the notation a good look-over and hum it as you read it. If you’re lucky, there’ll be a friendly musician standing by who’ll walk you through the piece before you begin.

4. Hear or know the song before you read its notation. You’ll be even luckier if you’re already familiar with the song that you’re expected to play! This is where the benefit of exposure begins to shine. The more music that you expose yourself to, the easier it is to “know” how a song is supposed to “go.” 5. Get your hands ready. Time permitting, see if you can place your hands in several important chord positions before starting. 6. Keep your eyes on the music. “Never let them see you sweat,” they say — a feat that’s certainly easier said than done! The key here is to, at the very least, look as though you know what you’re doing even if you don’t. While you’re faking it, you can use a little improve to stall and quickly find a place in the music that’s easy to interpret. This will be a place where you can restore your confidence, play like a pro, and give your audience a convincing nod and wink (as though you never missed a beat). 7. Speaking of keeping the beat, you’ll also want to keep up the tempo no matter what happens. We guess the cat’s out the bag now and your question of whether pianists ever make mistakes is now answered. They do – but the most skillful ones won’t let you know it. They keep the beat going even if they drop notes or lose their place in their sheet music. Like the Energizer Bunny, they move on full force as if they were born savants. As a sight reader – that’s your job now. 8. Keep the left hand busy. The role of the left hand is to maintain a steady rhythm and key. The role of the right hand however is to embellish what the left hand is doing. If things get hectic and you’re stuggling with a song’s melody, stop playing the melody but keep that left-hand going! The lead singer or other instruments will fill in what your right hand is incapable of playing. As a rule, rhythm, key, and chords are more important than the melody. 9. Practice seeing sheet music. Before placing yourself into a sight-reading situation, envision what a song’s notation would look like. Pick any song from the radio or television, and start picturing its notes. This will help train your mind to associate sounds with notes and notes with sounds, anywhere… anytime. 10. Try to write your own music. This too, will help train your mind to make appropriate note-sound associations.

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Learn To Play the Piano today…Choose Your Way!

by Tania Gleaves on April 19, 2014

You should be proud of yourself … you’ve gone from wanting to learn to play the piano to researching how to go about it.

Depending on your musical abilities, your attention span, and your personality, one learning method will work better than all others for you. Let’s look at some of the many ways you can learn piano.

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Traditionally

The traditional method guides a student by using the most basic fundamentals as a foundation, then slowly introduces increasingly complex lessons. The benefit of a traditional learning experience is that the student gains a greater understanding of the keyboard, music theory, the relationship between notes in the scales, and so many other details that make sense out of an unfamiliar skill. And when it comes to performing, you will eventually gain the proficiency necessary to play your desired piece of music as the original artist or composer intended. The drawback to this method of learning is that it takes a significant time commitment and great patience to get up and running.

By Ear (Aurally)

Do you “have an ear” for music? Can you translate what you hear into notes and chords on an instrument? If so, you have a talent that significantly streamlines the learning process. Learning by ear eliminates the task of learning to read music. But to be effective at playing by ear, you still ought to learn how to place your fingers in the appropriate patterns, learn the names of the notes, etc.

Chord-Based

If you’re the type of person who’s looking to play as soon as possible (is today soon enough?), then the chord method is for you. Each chord is a basic note combination that provides enough audible information to sing along to. Even though the actual song you are “covering” may contain a complex series of notes, chords represent enough of the music to get the party started and have some fun. The great thing about this method is that learning chords takes relatively little time. That said, chords tend to oversimplify music. A song’s distinctive melody, or a signature run of notes that lend to a song’s popularity, cannot be expressed in a chord. Put another way, you could mix together bits of steak, potato, green beans and a dinner roll; compress them into bar form; and eat the conglomeration for dinner. You would get most of the nutrition of the ingredients, but wouldn’t enjoy the bar nearly as much as you’d enjoy all the elements of the entrée separately on a plate.

Pattern-Based

This learning method teaches you shortcuts that supposedly mimic most popular music. I say supposedly because some argue the pattern-based method disregards the actual nuances in a song that differentiate it from other songs. Yet, it is another popular way to reach your piano playing goal more quickly than more traditional methods because you can learn a few key playing patterns and then proceed to sound like a professional with little other training. It’s more complex than the chord method, so it enables you to sound more like the original artist. However, like the chord method, it tends to oversimplify the music, and a trained ear in your audience will pick that up.

As you probably discovered, if you want to learn to play the piano, you can take your time or you can be up and running by dinner time. Think about the kind of player you want to be, choose your method, and then proceed to other pages on this site to get to the next step in becoming a great musician!

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Consider Online Keyboard Lessons

April 18, 2014

If you’ve always wanted to play the keyboard, but never had the time or the money, you’ll be really interested in a new trend in lessons. Online keyboard lessons are a great way to combine the convenience of the Internet with your goal of learning the keyboard. They are also less expensive and more user […]

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Piano Chords – More Than Just a Group of Notes

April 17, 2014

At their most basic, piano chords are formed by playing three or more notes simultaneously. The combinations that result set the mood of a musical piece – happy, sad, powerful, soulful, etc. Historically, major chords have always evoked positive emotions while minor piano chords evoke the opposite. That’s a fairly simplistic observation, but it gives […]

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Beginner Lessons For Piano – Helpful Tips

April 16, 2014

Beginner lessons for piano will take you far in your quest. But supplementing your lessons with some ‘outside’ or unconventional training will shorten the time it takes to become an expert pianist. It goes without saying that practice makes perfect. However, there are a few additional things that you can do to improve the quality […]

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Piano Man Lyrics Inspire the Imagination

April 15, 2014

The Piano Man lyrics still inspire the imagination. Billy Joel certainly created a masterpiece when he penned this song. This soft rock classic dates back to 1972. At the time, Joel was performing in a Los Angeles bar, reportedly called “The Executive Room”, and became friends with the crowd who came to hear him. Click […]

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Making Music With a Piano Lamp

April 14, 2014

How Did They Ever Manage In The Past?! We really have to wonder how the musicians of the past fared without electricity. Can you imagine having to play piano by candle light or oil lamp? Can you imagine having to reserve practice to sunny days? Thankfully we’ve advanced to the point where we can play […]

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Blues Piano Lessons

April 13, 2014

Could you use a crash-course in the blues? These blues piano lessons will get you headed in the right direction. We’ll begin with blues chords, string together a common blues progression, and combine it with a complementing bass line. Excited? Can’t wait to jam? Let’s get started with your blues piano lessons! Click Here And […]

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Understanding The Piano Tab

April 12, 2014

Learning to play music with the piano tab is an alternative approach to learning via traditional sheet music. Whereas sheet music indicates pitch, chords, and time with musical symbols, piano tabs indicate the same with chord symbols and note names. The general idea behind this approach is to visually show which finger should hit a […]

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Play Piano By Ear – Learning To Play Without Any Experience

April 11, 2014

Which is better? By ear or notation? Learning to play piano by ear has always been a controversy probably since the piano was invented. Proponents of this approach claim that it’s easier and it reinforces key listening skills while critics claim that it doesn’t teach people how to play – it teaches people how to […]

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