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mathhag

Tricks Or Tips To Learn To Read Music

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So here I am, 66 years old and just playing my first instrument. I am using Gary Coovers books but I really would like to read music. I live in a very remote area. There are music instructors but no concertina players. If anyone can suggest an app, a way to practice reading music that would be great. All suggestions are welcome

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For what it’s worth. I am also an elderly learner of similar age on the Anglo Concertina. Started learning from an excellent book called the Concertina Diaries by Heather Greer. This is solely Irish music but for each tune you are given the Concertina fingering, the relevant note by name and it is also shown on the stave lines. Confess I am learning to read music by accident just by following each tune. This together with all the other helpful information enables me now to play from the music and to have options on the various fingering patterns. If you are playing Anglo I feel sure this book could help.

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I am also a late age learner living in a remote area far away from other concertina players

 

There are lots of apps that help you to learn the names of the notes on the staff. They are all basically the same, they show you a staff with some notes on it and either a piano keyboard or a row of letters and you are supposed to 'play' the keyboard or press the letter for the next note. Many of them are aimed at teaching children.

 

There is an Android app called "SolfaRead" that is a little different. In this app the notes scroll across the screen from right to left and speed up or slow down depending upon how quickly you identify the next note. This makes you want to read ahead to try to improve your speed and I think that is a good thing.

 

There is another Android app called "Note Trainer Home" that listens to and recognizes the notes played on your concertina. This is very useful in training your fingers to the notes. This app is a bit flaky, but if you can get it to work for you then it is definitely worth your time. It does not scroll, which is a shame, and it does not work on some Android devices. Also, when you have finished with it make sure that it is completely shut down otherwise it will continue listening on the microphone and run down your battery. The developer (a student who wrote this for fun) has promised an enhanced version sometime soon.

 

None of these apps teach rhythm (in the sense of note duration) which is probably equal, or more important, to finding the right note. I recently discovered 'Rhythm Master' which seems to cover this topic, but I have not spent much time on this as yet.

 

Now, how to put the two aspects (note identification and rhythm) together?

 

I suspect that the answer to that question is practice, practice and more practice.

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Don is right on the money about practice and repetition!

 

I've read and played regular music notation for years on piano and EC, but from working on all the tunes for the Anglo books I'm just now able to read music on the Anglo. Melody mostly, but a lot slower on the harmony side.

 

The tablature is a good crutch for getting started, but eventually you'll be able to associate the dots with the right buttons.

 

It's extra difficult with the Anglo due to the different directions and alternates.

 

Gary

Edited by gcoover

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If you have Musescore, a free download music notation program on the net, you could devise some scale exercises for yourself. A cursor scrolls across the score while the audio plays and you can set the tempo as you like. Just play along, maybe set challenges for yourself with the tempo control. If you set up some exercises in the key of C you can easily transpose and save the exercise in other keys. I just tried to attach one of my musescore files but was disallowed. You'll have to set your own.

 

Of course playing along to any musescore file, that is tune, is good reading practice. you can do it with ABC files as well. Set your own pace.

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There is an online music theory course here https://www.coursera.org/learn/edinburgh-music-theory/home/welcome

It assumes no prior knowledge. It's run by Edinburgh University.

 

You can do the whole course for free, if you wish to get a a certificate then you have to pay a fee of £37

Thank you Theo, I have signed up for this. May be more then I can digest right now. But I will give it a go.

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There is an online music theory course here https://www.coursera.org/learn/edinburgh-music-theory/home/welcome

It assumes no prior knowledge. It's run by Edinburgh University.

 

You can do the whole course for free, if you wish to get a a certificate then you have to pay a fee of £37

Thank you Theo, I have signed up for this. May be more then I can digest right now. But I will give it a go.

 

I have taken this course (several times!) and can recommend it, but ...

 

While they do cover how to read music in the first two sessions they do it very quickly and then move on to music theory and finish up on the last week by getting you to do a harmonic analysis of a classical piece. I think that to get the most out of this course it would be best if you already had an instinctive grasp of note reading. You might find the exercises and tests frustrating if you are trying to figure out how to read a note at the same time as deciding which chord it belongs to.

 

In your initial post you said that you wanted to learn to read music, you did not say that you wanted to learn music theory. The difference is a bit like the difference between being able to read a book and being able to perform an academic analysis of a book. When you first learned to read a book, you were given simple material to read and lots of it and then you were gradually given more and more complex texts to read until you were fluent, until it became automatic. I find that I have had to (am having to) replicate this process in learning to read music. The flash card apps are useful for this stage of learning.

 

OTOH. If your handle (mathhag) implies that you like mathematics then you will enjoy learning music theory.

 

Don.

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Posted (edited)

I agree with Don, whereas the Coursera course assumes no prior knowledge of music theory, it does expect an undergraduate level of comprehension and learning ability, this is after all a university offering free tuition and it takes no prisoners. I'm a fair to middling reader and would expect to play most straight forward folk type tunes up to four sharps and three flats at three quarter speed first time through, but I only made it just over halfway through the Coursera thing before I gave up. Horses for courses I guess.

 

The music theory section of the 8notes website is helpful and free, it's a good place to start.

Edited by Pete Dunk

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I really appreciate all the suggestions and will probably try several different ones.

And yes I was a math teacher. But I will have to go slow on any music theory because I am learning so many new things at the same time.

I am really glad I was directed to Gary Coovers books because I can at least feel like I am making some progress.

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All suggestions are welcome

 

 

 

Here's mine...... stay old-fashioned !

Books of music and 10,000hrs.

Good luck..........I did this same thing 15 yrs ago.

 

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