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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Musical Terminology Involved In Learning And Playing Ode To Joy On The Piano

Ode To Joy is the theme from the final movement of Ludwig Van Beethoven's ( 1770-1827) 9th symphony. It is a common tune for students of any instrument to play in their early years of learning an instrument.

I would just like to point out that a symphony is a musical composition for full orchestra, usually in four movements. So take a look at this “orchestral version” below.

To be able to read and play it and other tunes like it on an instrument you nead to have an understanding of the musical terminology involved. 
This blog goes over all the musical notation, terms and sighs you need to know  in order to learn and play Ode To Joy on the piano.  I have numbered each musical term on the sheet music. So just look at the corresponding number with meanings underneath.

Stave or Staff
A staff or stave is represented by the 5 lines and 4 spaces and it is where music is written. On piano music you see two sets of lines.
1. Treble Stave:  The treble stave is the upper set of lines on piano sheet music and is also used for some single line instruments such as the violin, flute and trumpet.
2. Bass Stave: The bass stave is the lower set of lines on piano sheet music and is also used for some single lined instrument such as the bassoon, double bass and cello. 

A single line refers to one row of music.
A double line refers to two rows of music.
3. Grand Staff
This is when the treble staff and bass staff are joined together with vertical bow-shaped bracket called a brace, at the start of each line.
4. Treble Clef
This is a sign which goes at the beginning of the treble or top stave in the grand staff to indicate playing notes with the right hand or high pitched musical instruments.
5. Bass Clef
This is the sign which goes at the beginning of the bass or lower stave in the grand staff to indicate playing notes with the left hand or lower pitched musical instruments.
6. Bar Lines
These are the vertical lines you see at regular intervals on sheet music for the ease of counting and flow of the music.
7. Bar or Measure 
This is the piece of music or notes seen between 2 bar lines.
8. Double Bar Line
This is a thin and thick bar line seen at the end of a piece to signify the end.
9. Time Signature
A time signature is represented by the two numbers seen at the beginning of a piece.  It indicates how many beats or counts there are in a bar.
The top number indicates the number of beats/counts in a bar
The lower number indicates the type of beat there are ‘x’ of.
For example:
3 indicates there are three crotchet or quarter beats / counts in a bar


In Ode To Joy the time signature is 4, so there are 4 crotchet beats in each bar.
10. Bar Numbers
In some sheet music you you can see numbers above some bars. This represents the number of the bar in the piece. For example the 9 above the first bar of the third line represents bar 9. These numbers are particularly useful in a group setting if the group is to repeat a certain section of the piece. The conductor or equivalent can just say ” Lets practice from bar 9 to bar 30 or whatever “.
11. Key Signature
A key signature is represented by the number of sharps or flats written on the stave before the time signature. And this tells a musician what key the piece is in. Sometimes there are no sharps or flats written before the time signature.This means the piece is in C major or A minor. You get to know the keys and key signatures in your process of learning your musical instrument.
The arrangement of Ode To Joy above has a key signature of 1 sharp and is in the key of G major.
12. Slur or Phrase Mark
A slur or phrase mark is the curved line written above a set of notes. A slur tells a musician to play the notes underneath  it as  smoothly as possible. A phrase mark is is a long slur and at the end of the curve you can break the sound of the note before playing the next note for example pianists lift their fingers off the keys and wind players stop blowing through their instruments.
13. Moderato
Words above the stave and written notes like Moderato in Ode To Joy, indicate a speed to play the piece. These are usually Italian words. Moderato means 108 – 120 beats per minute between andante and allegro. You can measure the timing or beats per minute with a metronome.
Dynamic Markings
These are written below a stave or in the middle of the grand stave to indicate how loud or soft to play the notes. In this Ode To Joy example there are three examples.There are of course more dynamic markings in music.
14. f  is forte and means loud.
15. mp is mezzo piano and means moderately soft.

16. The 2 lines which start off at a point and get bigger is a sign to tell the musician to get gradually louder.
Another way to indicate getting gradually louder is with the Italian words cresc. or written in full crescendo.

17. Accidentals
These are indicated by sharp, flat or natural signs written just before the note within the piece of music.
There are three accidentals in the given Ode To Joy as indicated in bars 11 and 12. There is D sharp, D natural and C sharp.
These signs and terms are a lot to take in when you are first learning to read piano sheets so they are there to keep referring to. Sometimes they are  found at the beginning of tutor books or throughout tutor books as you are learning them for the first time.
As you play lots of exercises and pieces on the piano you will find that you will know them well and can then concentrate on learning the piece at hand such as Ode To Joy on the piano.
Below is the piano playing of the sheet music represented near the top of the blog. 

Are you keen to know more.
Then This and This will help.

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Recorder Notes With Letters

To understand what Recorder Notes With letters are, then you need to know what a recorder is, what are notes and and letters and the fingering of them on the recorder.
What Is A Recorder?
The recorder is a musical instrument made of wood ( see photo above ) or plastic. It is basically a hollow tube in two or three sections, with a mouth piece at one end, an opening at the other end and holes. They come in different sizes ranging from small, high sounding ones to larger, lower sounding ones. Each recorder is either in the key of C or key of F, which means that the letters for each hole will be different between the two keys. For example the lowest note for recorders in the key of C is C and the lowest note for recorders in F is F. Both are fingered the same. Read about the sopranino recorder and other types here.
What Are The Notes And Letters?
Notes” refers to the different sounds which are produced on an instrument, in this case the recorder. They are represented by symbols. Examples of notes are seen in the picture below.
musical notes
“Letters” refer to the names of the notes. These are the first seven letters of the alphabet,A B C D E F G. These note names are often referred to as is The Musical Alphabet. 
There are other note names related to each of these seven letters. They are sharp notes ( # ) and flat notes( b ). Each musical alphabet letter has a sharp and flat note associated with it,that is, A# B# C# D# E# F# G# and Ab Bb Cb Db Eb Fb Gb.
Sharp notes raise a note by a semitone and a flat note lowers a note by a semitone. A semitone is the closest interval of sound. If you can visualise a piano with the white and black keys, then a semitone is the closest key to the right or left of a key.  On a recorder you just have to know the fingering but the sound of a semitone is universal. 
Take a look at a picture of 8 white keys on the piano from C to the next C up with sharps and flats.
Please be aware that there are sharp notes that sound the same as flat notes,for example, an A# sound is the same as a Bb sound. 
A complete range of notes in an octave could go like the following two examples or the picture example above.  
Ab A Bb B C Db D Eb E F Gb G         or        G# A A# B C C# D D# E F F# G
Each note name is a semitone away from the next note name. For example: Ab to A is a semitone and so on.
The musical alphabet repeats itself over and over again to the range of the musical instrument. The recorder family have a range of around two octaves. It can vary depending on recorder type.
What Is The Fingering Of The Notes On The Recorder?
“Fingering” refers to the pressing of finger tips or pads down on the recorder holes in varying configurations.  When a musician wants to play a note or “letter” and hence a variation in pitch, then there is a fingering for that note. The recorder will have over two octaves of fingerings to represent each note name.
Please note that a recorder player produces  a sound by blowing through the mouthpiece to create a vibration of air down the recorder.
What Is The Fingering On The  Recorder For Each Note Name? 
When you play any wind instrument the left hand goes at the top.
A recorder has a thumb hole underneath and 5 single holes plus 2 double holes on top.
The holes will be called the following:
Th = left hand thumb
1 2 3 ( for left hand 2nd 3rd 4th fingers )
4 5 ( single holes for right hand 2nd 3rd fingers )
6 7 (double holes for right hand 4th 5th fingers )
Here is the fingering for the recorders in the key of C.
B:   Th 1
A:   Th 1 2
G:   Th 1 2 3
E:   Th 1 2 3 4 5
C2: Th 2
D2: 2
D1:  Th 1 2 3 4 5 6
F#: Th 1 2 3 5 6
C1: Th 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 ie all holes covered for a lowest sound on the instrument.
Look here for the visual fingering of some recorder notes.
Recorders in the key of F have F1 as the lowest note, with all holes covered; equivalent to C1. So basically fingerings are the same for each key but the note name changes.
The first octave in the key of C is  C D E F   G A B 
The first octave in the key of F is  F G A Bb C D E
The Learning Process 
People start learning the notes B  A  G  first and play a variety of B A G pieces and exercises to help the process of remembering the fingering and reading the notes on sheet music. As the learning process continues then more notes/letters and fingerings are learnt. When you learn to produce second octave sounds the left hand thumb covers half a hole, like in the picture below.
Recorder thumb second octave
A finger chart is available in tutor books as well as separate fingerings on pages throughout in the step by step learning process. To help you remember fingerings you need to Play Play Play with guidance of a teacher, tutor book or both.
With a knowledge of what a recorder is and what notes,letters and fingering are, you are on your way to playing great tunes.

 Go Forth

 Enjoy A Musical Experience On The Recorder

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