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 

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