Monday, November 23, 2015

How Do You Find Left Hand Piano Notes

An 8 year old piano student was playing a piece with several different right hand notes and a left hand note. When he came to play this left hand note he had difficulty finding and hence playing it. I asked him “If you are at home and can’t find this note what would you do to help you? How Do You Find Left Hand Piano Notes.”
His response:
1. Ask my sister ( who also learns the piano )
“Anything else,” I asked.
2. Look at an earlier page
3. Look on the computer
I asked him, “What would you type in to find this note?”
He said “piano notes”
I suggested “left hand piano notes”
And he then said “images”. So you would click on the images tab.
So I suggested he do all of the above before this before next lesson.
So how did he find left hand piano notes in the lesson?
Before I carry on with this I would like to mention that there are two main possibilities as to why a student finds it difficult to find a piano note.
1. Difficulty in Reading What The Note Is On Sheet Music
Notes are written on or above or below the stave which are the 2 sets of five lines, one for the right hand and one for the left hand. We call the notes written on the lines… line notes and notes written between the lines… space notes. The positioning of these notes tells the reader exactly which key to play. And you learn all of this step by step, in your process of learning the piano whether you are doing it yourself or with a teacher.
There could be a number of reasons why a student has difficulty in finding a left hand piano note. These can be:
~ not playing much or at all between lessons – probably the most common reason
~ learning difficulty eg dispraxia , dislexia
~ being young. There is a lot of learning going on for a 5 and 6 year at school. Maybe they can’t remember which hand is right and which is left and therefore get muddled at finding and playing these notes correctly.
2. Not knowing or remembering which key represents which note.
Notes are given names and these are the first 7 letters of the alphabet. In music we call this The Musical Alphabet.  The notes A B C D E F G are found in relation to the black keys eg all C’s are found directly to the left of the group of two black keys. Students learn this step by step.
So basically when you read sheet music you need to look at the positioning of the note and play the key it represents. Sometimes people can remember the key to press down from the positioning on the stave, but they cant remember the name of the note. Sometimes people know the name of the note but play it in the wrong octave eg the left hand note is a G and the student plays a G up high where the right hand plays.
Finding the Left Hand Piano Note With The Student:
I followed point 2….finding the note from a page earlier in the book.
I thought this would help the student more if he could work it out himself rather than me just play it to him and he copy …like in point 1, which was Ask His Sister ( or in fact you could ask anyone in the know) I could not do point 3 as there was no internet, but if I could here is an image which could help.
Here is a picture from an earlier section in the book.
All the student needs to do is look at his note in question, which is the top image of this blog, and find the same picture on the diagram. Then look upwards to see the note name and then upwards again to find the positioning on the piano keys. Then I would get the student to play the note, play the piece on the same and then play the piece he is learning.
Some younger students have trouble tracking there eyes across from one place to another. Some students have trouble if the note in question actually looks different than the note in a diagram. For example the note in the top diagram looks different than the note in the same position on the diagram I found from the computer. You see  notes are played for different time lengths. And therefore there needs to be a sign to tell the musician how long to play a note for. The note in the top diagram is a four count note, whereas the note in the computer diagram is one count. And this confuses some students. It is just a learning process to remember this.
After we have looked at earlier pieces I will then explain that there is another way to learn how to find the left hand piano notes.  And that is to use sayings. Look at the picture below and the sayings underneath. Work from the bottom space or line note upwards. The note names are highlighted in red.
Line Notes:
Always                                      Always
Fruit                                          Ferraris
Deserve               or                 Drive
Boys                                         Boys
Good                                        Good
Space Notes:
You can come up with your own one.
So once you have found the positioning of the note from the sheet music to the keys then you play it in context with the exercise or piece you are playing. And then carry on learning more pieces.
This Book has the piece in question which my student is learning and more.
To help the memory Repeat Often On Different Days of the Week and those left hand piano notes will be as easy to find as the right hand piano notes.
Happy Playing 

Christmas Carols And Songs

Christmas is an annual celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ and is celebrated by many people around the world with a holiday on the 25th December.
There are many traditions associated with Christmas and one of them is the singing and playing of Christmas Carols and Songs.
So what is a Christmas Carol?
Firstly the word “carol” is defined as a “joyful song” or “dance in a ring”. It is usually a religious song expressing joy and simple faith and is linked to a particular religious feast.
It is said that the first carols were sung by angels, who announced the birth of Jesus Christ.  And a great number of carols were written to show the great joy and happiness the singers felt when they thought about Jesus and the Christian religion.
The carol as a Christmas song developed in England during the 14th and 15th centuries.  Most carols nowadays are sung at Christmas Time so they are called Christmas Carols.
Many carols have lilting cheerful tunes, which would be easy to dance to. Many are tender and gentle, like lullabies to the Infant Jesus, whilst others are solemn like ordinary hymns.
People enjoyed singing carols door to door, in church services, Carols by Candlelight or to hear them in concert.
The form of most traditional carols consists of a number of verses with a chorus or refrain repeated between each verse.
Here is a list of some Traditional Christmas Carols and Songs sung at Christmas Time.
Angels of the Realms of Glory:
This was written by James Montgomery and sung to a variety of tunes. It was first printed 24 December 1816 and sung in churches after a reprint in 1825. Listen to a version to the music by Henry Smart.
Away in a Manger:
This is a newer Carol written by James R. Murray, published in 1895 with the music composed in the 1895  by William J. Kirkpatrick in 1895.
Hark The Herald Angels Sing:
Charles Wesley wrote this song in the 1730’s. Later it was set to the music of Mendelssohn and was finally published in 1856
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen:
This was was first published in 1833. The author of the lyrics is unknown but it is thought they date back to the 15th Century.
O Come All Ye Faithful:
This was composed by the Englisman John Reading in the early 1700s.
O Little Town Of Bethlehem:
This is a newer Carol composed in 1868 by Rector Phillips Brooks of Philadelphia following a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The music was composed by Lewis Redner his church organist.
Silent Night:
This was composed in 1818 in Austria by Franz Xaver Gruber. The lyrics were written by Joseph Mohr. The simple words could be sung to the accompaniment of a guitar because mice had gnawed into the bellows of the organ making it unplayable. Many arrangements have been formed all around the world since.
The First Nowel or The First Noel:
This is a traditional English Carol with the origin unknown. It was published in 1833.
The word Noel is French and means Christmas. The English spelling of the word is Nowell and so the title can be either spelling.
It Came Upon The Midnight Clear:
This carol was written by Edmund Hamilton Sears in 1849 and composed by American musician Richard Storrs Willis in 1859.
Jingle Bells:
This song is the most popular secular Christmas Song.

This song was originally published in 1857 by James Lord Pierpont (1822–1893) using the title “The One Horse Open Sleigh” and it used as a winter song and for Thanksgiving. In 1859 it the name changed to Jingle Bells for publishing.
It was so popular that it was sung at Christmas time as well and has become one of the best known and commonly sung American Christmas songs in the world. However it took many years to become popular. It started to become popular for Christmas with phonograph records and later on radio and the recordings of well known artists such as Bing Crosby and the Andrew Sisters. There is no mention of Christmas but it is now associated with the Christmas and holiday season.
I would like to point out that the simplicity of the tune makes it an easier tune for beginner instrumentalists to learn and hence becomes the first introduction to playing Christmas Music to learner musicians.
Deck the Halls:
This is a Welsh traditional Christmas carol from the 16th century but is sung the most in America The first publication of the English lyrics were in the late 19th century.
O Christmas Tree:
This is a traditional German Christmas Carol with composer and author of lyrics unknown. It tells of bringing a tree in side and decorating it with candy, baubles and bells which started in the 19th century.
The Holly and the Ivy:
The author and composer of of this traditional British Christmas Carol is unknown.
I Heard The Bells on Christmas Day:
This carol is based on the poem called “Christmas Bells” by American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, in 1863.
Good King Wenceslas:
This popular modern carol tells a story of a miracle performed by that King “on the Feast of Stephen” 26th December. The words were written by Reverend John Manson Neale in 1853 and is set to the tune of an old spring carol composed in the 1500’s. It does not mention Christmas.
Joy To The World:
This popular American Christmas Carol was written in 1719 by Isaac Watts with the music believed to have been composed by George Frederick Handel.
We Three Kings of Orient Are:
This popular American carol was written by Rev. John Henry Hopkins and published in 1857. It is one of the most frequently sung Christmas Carols today.
Ding Dong Merrily on High:
This is a joyful carol written by English composer George Ratcliffe Woodward (1848–1934), and first published in 1924. The text was originally in Latin and the composer is unknown.
While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night:
This carol was written by written by Nahum Tate in the early 1700’s and is commonly sung to 2 tunes. This carol tells a story of how the angels came to the shepherds on the hillside.
We Wish You A Merry Christmas:
This is a popular 16th century English carol with the author and composer unknown.
If you like the idea of singing or playing Christmas Songs like the ones mentioned then you can click on the image to the right of this blog and further up to look at some Sheet Music.
Maybe you would like to to listen to the youtube Christmas song examples in this blog and whilst Shopping For Some Christmas Theme Products by clicking on the top image…all from the comfort of your couch!!
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The Background Behind The Name “SONATINA”

Sonatina in G Major   by Ludwig van Beethoven
An example of a Sonatina for flute. Click Picture for Flute Information
People have their own names and then give themselves a “pen” name or another name depending on what it is for eg writers often give themselves another name for their books. I have given myself an internet name called “Sonatina”. This blog is about the background behind the name “Sonatina”.
 Firstly, what is a Sonatina?
 Secondly, why choose this name?


 What Is A Sonatina? 
Sonatina simply means a shorter sonata usually lighter and easier but not always.
Sonata is an instrumental composition for a solo instrument or solo instrument with piano accompaniment, in three or four movements in related keys and varying speeds and moods.

Why Choose The Name Sonatina?
 1.  I like names ending in “a”. The name “Sonatina” ends in “a”. 
 2. I play and teach several musical instruments and thought I would like a name in music  for my “internet” name.
 3. People learn and do things, whether it is work, a hobby, daily task or something else at different rates and each thing provides an individual a mood or emotion which can vary. I liken this to a sonata or sonatina where each movement has a different speed and mood attached to it.  
When you learn things it is more effective to focus on one point ( or movement ) at a time.
Eg if you are learning a musical instrument, focus on the sound and fingering of one or two notes first. You can add notes of different time lengths one at a time next, then more notes and so on.
Eg if you are mastering “marketing your own business” then pick one platform first like blogging, facebook, instagram, you tube and learn it. Then move onto the others one at a time. Also break each main topic down and learn in bite sized pieces one step at a time. It is easier to think of bite sized pieces or points as each movement of a Sonatina.
Below is an example of a Sonatina, which I played on the flute.
This sonatina has two movements of different speeds and time signature. The first movement is Moderato and is in 4/4 time. The second movement is Romanze and is in 6/8 time. The feel and mood of the two movements are different with the Romance being faster and more dancelike.

So now, when you are learning a point or two on any given topic, think of it as a Sonatina. When you have learnt all the points (movements) of a topic ( piece(s) ) you may have learnt a sonatina or lots of related Sonatinas linked together.
Click Picture To Learn How To Play A Sonatina On The Piano
Click Picture To Learn How To Play A Sonatina On The Piano

I truly believe in learning one step at a time on any particular topic so that one can Blossom and Grow and Reach Up High For The Stars 

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