where can i learn to read piano sheet music easily?

GEORGE GUY asked:

is their a free program for the pc that can teach me how to read piano sheet music easily…im looking but didnt find much..if anyone knows please tell me i really want to learn

How do I read and write sheet music for the piano?

watermelon fox asked:

I’m beginning to teach myself the piano. I have a good ear, I hear a song and learn to play it that way. I have a very basic understanding of how to read music, but I’m still very confused about what goes where on the staff. What’s the difference between treble and bass clef? Can someone please tell me all about time signatures?

I want to write a song, but I don’t know how. If anyone could give some tips and or recommend a good program, it would be greatly appreciated!

Thank you!

Posted in Performing Arts by David. 5 Comments

Etudes Exercises and Practice (Oh My!)

If you’ve ever taken formal lessons, you’ve probably been assigned a few etudes. An etude is a piece of music written for study purposes. They are a thorn in the side of most music students for two reasons: they are usually very difficult, and they are at times very repetitive.

So, if these pieces are such a pain, why even do them? We could be having so much more “fun” playing pieces we like, right?

Every instrument has its own technical issues that you must overcome in order to play well. We usually spend the first several months or years working on the gross motor skills, and eventually begin honing in on the fine motor skills. These are the details that allow us play perfectly in tune, play very quickly and accurately, and that  allow us to play any combination of notes a composer can throw our way.

Think of etudes like a work out for your hands, fingers, or embouchure. When you work out, you push your body to work much harder than it needs to work on a normal basis. That way, when you go about your day, you feel like you have much more energy because your body could be working harder, but it doesn’t have to. If you regularly work out by lifting 200 pounds, and someone asks you to lift a 100-pound box, it won’t be hard at all.

The same thing happens musically when we study etudes. If you can play an entire page worth of 32nd note runs in an awkward key, how much more easily do you think you can play an easy little 16th note run in C major when it pops up in a concerto you’re studying? The key is to push your fingers and brain to work much harder than they need to, so that “real life” examples of music are actually much simpler.

Another benefit from studying etudes is pattern recognition. You’ll find that similar patterns often pop up in music. If you can perfect an etude that consists of certain patterns, when you run across them in another piece of music, your fingers will easily fall into place with very little effort. The same principle holds true with scales. Some of the flashiest sections of major concertos are simply scales. If you can perfect the technical things in isolation (by studying them in etudes and scale practice), then you can spend more of your concerto practice on phrasing and musicality.

Every instrument has its own “bible,” a collection of etudes that contains some of the best studies for that particular instrument. Here are a few of those, and if you don’t see yours, do some research to find the best for your instrument:

Piano: Hanon Studies

Violin: Kreutzer Etudes

Trumpet: J.B. Arbon Conservatory Studies

Sax: Paul Deville Universal Method

Flute: Trevor Wye books

Clarinet: H. Klose Celebrated Method

Work your way through these classic studies and you’ll soon find yourself able to play technical music much more easily. Several videos and recordings exist of these pieces—if you’re having trouble figuring something out, reference them to hear what the pieces are supposed to sound like.