After learning the basic fundamental skills one needs to be able to play piano at a beginner level, I decided to go further with my studies this week. You will notice that this weeks blog post does not have much playing but more explaining and diagrams. I learned a valuable lesson this week: You need to not only play but also understand what you are playing. After testing my knowledge of reading sheet music, I quickly learned I needed to grow my technique and terminology to begin playing scales which is the next two weeks lesson plans! That is why this week focuses mainly on understanding sheet music, I have decided to learn how to write sheet music to help me grow a stronger understanding and appreciation towards the instrument I am learning to play!
Let’s start with technique:
Mentioned in my last blog post, my short fingers have become a slight problem to mastering key skills on the piano. I have gained two new techniques this week that will help me further on throughout my project.
Crossing over is a method that is used when you need to play more than five keys with five fingers. You simply cross over either your middle finger or your ring finger depending on how many keys you need to reach and continue playing. The other skill I have learned during this week is crossing under, where you thumb crosses under your hand to reach past you 5 home keys! These skills not only help you reach past your home position on the piano but also forms a fluidity that sounds beautiful! The video below demonstrates both crossing under (which is first) and crossing over (which is second)! Check it out!
Being able to read sheet music is the most important part when it comes to learning how to play the piano. In my previous lesson you see me playing successfully, however, that is because I was taught with the notes given to me with the corresponding keys that go with those notes. Once I learned the tune, I memorized it which allowed me to just play without fully understanding. This section shows my new knowledge when it comes to understanding sheet music and all the little components needed to be successful! I have always been a visual and hands-on learner so I incorporated learning how to write sheet music on paper as well throughout this lesson.
- The Basics to Sheet Music
When reading sheet music you must begin by understanding the symbols that are on every piece of sheet music you will study. Above is the picture of labeling a basic Grand Staff. A Grand Staff is both the Treble Clef and Bass Clef that results in one big staff (The Grand Staff). The treble clef was tricky to draw at first, probably because I am not very good at drawing but I got the hang of it using this resource found here! The bass clef was much easier! The treble clef is mostly played with the right hand (for my level of playing) and the bass clef is usually played with the left hand! Lastly, every piece of sheet music always has a time signature! The time signature is the numbers after the treble and bass clef that allows the learner to understand how many beats are in each measure. The common time signature is 4/4 which has four beats in each measure. For beginner purposes I do not see myself moving out of this time signature but who knows! A great resource to have a deeper understanding of time signatures can be found here!
2. Treble Clef and Bass Clef Notes
The picture above describes the notes found on both the treble clef and the bass clef staves. I had some understanding of these notes, but teaching myself how to draw and place the notes have allowed me to gain a deeper understanding that allows me to read the notes without the corresponding letters underneath!
3. Note Value and Rhythm
Now that I have gained confidence in reading sheet music I can now move onto understanding the values of different notes and the rhythm that follows those values.
The whole note: The whole note is held for the whole time of a measure, in the picture above, the whole note must be held for 4 beats!
The half note: The half note is held for half the time of a measure, in the picture above the half note must be held for 2 beats.
The quarter note: The quarter note is the note I have been working with up until this point. This note is held for a quarter of the time in a measure, in the picture above a quarter note must be held for one full beat.
The eighth note: The eighth note is held for an eighth of the time in a measure, in the picture above the note must be held for half a beat.
The video is a short tune that incorporates all the skills and terminology I have described above! Can anyone guess what song it is? Let me know in the comments!
4. Time to take a rest!
In piano, there are also times that indicate a break in the song must occur. These are called rests! Just like the different note values, there are also different rest values!
Whole Rest: Pause in the song for the whole measure, in this case, the song must pause for 4 beats.
Half Rest: Pause in the song for half the measure, in this case, the song must pause for 2 beats.
Quarter Rest: Pause in the song for a quarter of the measure, in this case, the song must pause for 1 beat.
5. Dotted Notes:
A dotted note plays for the same duration as it’s original value plus half of it’s value!
Whole dotted note: 6 beats
Half dotted note: 3 beats
Quarter dotted note: 1.5 beats
Eighth dotted note: 3/4 beats
6. A Tie
Lastly, I have learned a tie. In music notation, a tie connects two notes of the same sound to form one long single note.
You do not play the second note, the second note just indicates that the first note is still being played into a different measure and using more beats than normal!
To pull all of these new terms that have been engraved into my brain over the past week, I have learned a tune that incorporates all new techniques discussed above! This week off of class has sure been a busy one! Check out the tune below!
See you all next week when I tackle beginner scales that help me improve my fluidity in playing!