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I started on the EC as a fun project without any music reading skills. I found the beginners easy-play (each note marked "A", "C#" etc.) organ books (thrift shop buys) encouraging as I could noodle about and produce some basic music. Then for other music, I started by photocopying and marking each note with a red pen.

 

The more you do stuff like that, the more it "percolates in". Now I find that I can read music well enough to play without writing in the notes (although I still do for fast/complex), and slowly a link in the brain is forming where my finger just hits the key without the mental process "that's an Eb, so that's this key up here".

 

So you don't necessarily have to start out with the goal of learning to read music, it can just sort of happen as you get comfortable with the instrument.

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Which makes my point: sight-reading is different for each instrument (unless they have a common layout, like piano, harpsichord and synthesiser, or violin and mandolin). The allocation of dot to fingering is even different for the different concertina types.

 

Cheers,

John

 

I agree with part of what you say here John but the statement "sight-reading is different for each instrument" is way off the mark. Sight reading is exactly the same unless you learn to play an instrument that's notated in a different clef ( a cello for example) or you move from a melody only instrument (recorder or trumpet perhaps) to something multi-timbrel like a concertina that can play a fistful of notes as a chord , that does require different sight reading skills.

 

Once you've learned to read music and you have a reasonable understanding of musical theory you never have to relearn that, the skills are wholly transferable. I understand what you are saying about teaching your body to have a reflex reaction that's relative to the instrument you are playing but just like driving a vehicle, left and right and up and down are the same so it doesn't matter if you are driving a bus or flying a jumbo jet, the basic rules apply so the new skills you learn are entirely linked to the specifics of an object you are unfamiliar with.

 

Reading music is worth persevering with as it opens new horizons, in the meantime I'm trying really hard to learn the skills of playing by ear!

 

Pete.

 

I don't entirely agree with you on this. It's true that sight reading is a transferable skill in the respect that the actual notation is the same regardless of the instrument. However, sight reading a part on different instruments is not the same. I can pick up a piece of music and sight read it on a recorder as a member of a group of musicians with a reasonable degree of confidence because my fingers know where to go more or less automatically. The same is not true of the concertina, though I know where most of the notes are, I cannot yet place my fingers with confidence and up to tempo when I am playing with other musicians because I have not yet got to that automatic stage with the concertina.

 

Yes you can pick up a sheet of music, read it and know what the notes are, but to play it on different instruments takes time because you need to develop muscle memory and that is specific to each instrument or at least type of instrument.

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Search for Englitina and or Eskin on this site- then beg borrow or .... an ipad and iphone or an android tablet and u can get playing without needing shouder belllowsing action - just the fingers are needed.

Sing along as Dirge suggests and also follow the other tips for( watching and learning the notes as they go up and down on the page ) and all will flow from there. you will also get some help from the scores and midi sound files in tuneotron which you get to by clicking on it at the top of the home cnet page.

have fun.

Edited by Kautilya
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I agree with part of what you say here John but the statement "sight-reading is different for each instrument" is way off the mark. Sight reading is exactly the same unless you learn to play an instrument that's notated in a different clef ( a cello for example) or you move from a melody only instrument (recorder or trumpet perhaps) to something multi-timbrel like a concertina that can play a fistful of notes as a chord , that does require different sight reading skills.

 

If you're referring only to reading then this is correct, but for sight-playing it is different. A note on the stave is the same no matter what instrument you are playing, but the fingering for playing that note will be different from one instrument to another. In the treble clef, the bottom line of the stave is always E, but that note is on different buttons depending on whether I'm playing a C/G or G/D concertina.

 

I think this is where many people have difficulty - I know I do. I know how musical notation works, but I cannot "hear" the intervals off the page simply by reading the dots. As I learned to play by ear I've never fully mapped the names of notes to the buttons, and then you have to learn an entirely different mapping for another instrument.

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I am working on the Kodaly Method to learn singing the intervals with my grandaughter. We have mastered Do Re Mi both up and down the scale. I have been musicial all my life ( by ear) but was surprised during my Postgraduate Dip Ed in 1962 to be told during the test created by Wing that i could not tell whether a note was flat or sharp. As I didn't knopw what that meant I was peeved as I knew when they were different. maybe if they'd said higher or lower on a ladder it might have helped ! What I now recognose is that I don't always recognise whether a note goes up or down from the earlier one so I am working on semitone and tone intervals . The Kodaly method is very helpful and was one my sons' music teacher used in school. You use your hands to indicate a note on a stave on the board, then in your imagination. We are also using the colours of the rainbow to help memorise notes . Seven colours, seven notes

 

 

 

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kod%C3%A1ly_Method

Edited by michael sam wild
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I agree with part of what you say here John but the statement "sight-reading is different for each instrument" is way off the mark. Sight reading is exactly the same unless you learn to play an instrument that's notated in a different clef

 

Pete,

I think we're at cross purposes here - you obviously mean something different by "sight reading" from I do. What I mean by sight reading is setting up the sheet music of a hitherto unknown piece, and playing it with reasonable fluency straight off - perhaps scanning through it visually first to look for pitfalls, like accidentals, modulations, or changes of key signature.

 

What you seem to be talking about is what I would call "reading music" - recognising on an abstract level what key the music is in, and what the note names and durations are, and what the rhythmical structure is, and what the interval between adjacent notes is.

 

"Reading music" (to me) means identifying the note on the ledger line below the treble stave as middle C.

"Sight reading" (in my definition) means sounding middle C on your instrument whenever you see this note.

 

How do I sound middle C?

It depends on the instrument!

On my C/G Anglo, I press button 3 on the left-hand side and compress the bellows; on my Crane Duet, I press the 2nd button, inner row, right-hand side (or 4th button, 3rd row on the left), and work the bellows either direction; on my mandolin, I stop the 4th string at the 5th fret, and pluck; on my banjo, it's different again.

Knowing where middle C is on the piano, for instance, doesn't help me to find middle C on the other instruments. Learning where middle C is is part of the theoretical learning process for each individual instrument. And hitting it automatically when I see the note on the ledger line is part of the practical learning process - again for each instrument.

 

Once you've learned to read music and you have a reasonable understanding of musical theory you never have to relearn that, the skills are wholly transferable.

I agree with you here! Knowing which notes make up what chords, and what notes are in what scales, and what chords we are most likely to need in what keys, is all transferrable. But we still have to learn where these notes are and how to form these chords on each new instrument. People who play "by ear" have more motivation to familiarise themselves with this theory - sight readers just play what's written, and leave the theory up to the composer/arranger!

 

... it doesn't matter if you are driving a bus or flying a jumbo jet, the basic rules apply so the new skills you learn are entirely linked to the specifics of an object you are unfamiliar with.

 

Right! And a banjo and an Anglo concertina are about as different as a bus and a jumbo!

 

This whole discourse seems to resolve into the adage I heard recently: "In theory, there's no difference between theory and practice; in practice, there is!"

 

Cheers,

John

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Pete,

I think we're at cross purposes here - you obviously mean something different by "sight reading" from I do. What I mean by sight reading is setting up the sheet music of a hitherto unknown piece, and playing it with reasonable fluency straight off - perhaps scanning through it visually first to look for pitfalls, like accidentals, modulations, or changes of key signature.

 

What you seem to be talking about is what I would call "reading music" - recognising on an abstract level what key the music is in, and what the note names and durations are, and what the rhythmical structure is, and what the interval between adjacent notes is.

 

"Reading music" (to me) means identifying the note on the ledger line below the treble stave as middle C.

"Sight reading" (in my definition) means sounding middle C on your instrument whenever you see this note.

 

This whole subject is pretty fraught and open to all sorts of interpretation regarding the definition of terms like sight reading. For what it's worth here's my understanding of the terminology. A sight reader in the strictest sense of the term is someone who can pick up a piece of music they haven't seen before and after a few moments or even minutes of study play the piece to a performance standard. Few amateurs like you and I could ever aspire to this but it's bread and butter to recording 'session musicians' and the absolute norm in classical circles but we are talking about professionals here.

 

You and I define "sight reading" in exactly the same way! "What I mean by sight reading is setting up the sheet music of a hitherto unknown piece, and playing it with reasonable fluency straight off - perhaps scanning through it visually first to look for pitfalls, like accidentals, modulations, or changes of key signature." Reasonable fluency (of a single melody line) is my definition of sight reading at an amateur/hobby musician level. Why you thought I connected sight reading with looking at written notation and 'hearing' the tune in my head I'll never know. That is yet another example of a professional skill I would love to have but doubt I will ever attain!

 

Reading for diatonics is another matter which presents new and instrument specific challenges and is in fact off topic here as the OP specified the chromatic English concertina system in his initial post. Should we discuss this element of musical theory elsewhere in a new thread? Do we have the energy? Would anyone care? :unsure:

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If anyone is interested I'd like to pursue how people have learned to a) pitch a tune or song by ear without visual cues How people can take notes off the stave and 'hear' the correct note. I am interested in how quickly sight readers in choirs can do this .

 

 

 

Do competent readers carry a set of reference notes in their head and does it help to feel the throat muscles, lips etc involved in forming the specific notes.

 

 

 

Also, I have sung with people with 'perfect pitch' who cannot adapt to others who have set off singing in a somewhat different key. How does perfect pitch come about since it can't be gentic as pitches are changed over time

 

 

maybe this should be another thread.

Edited by michael sam wild
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This may be easier to read as a Word file so I have attached it also as well as putting it here (Cnetperosireadingmusic)

 

If anyone is interested I'd like to pursue how people have learned to a) pitch a tune or song by ear without visual cues B) How people can take notes off the stave and 'hear' the correct note. I am interested in how quickly sight readers in choirs can do this .

 

Do competent readers carry a set of reference notes in their head and does it help to feel the throat muscles, lips etc involved in forming the specific notes.

 

Also, I have sung with people with 'perfect pitch' who cannot adapt to others who have set off singing in a somewhat different key. How does perfect pitch come about since it can't be gentic as pitches are changed over time

 

maybe this should be another thread.

Faskinating!

we should discuss in Middle Earth at Whitby when trying to start a song which

a)suits the fixed key instruments (DG/CF/Bflat melodeons, CG Tinas, unkeyed D whistles, so the majority can accompany the tune).

 

B)Not sure whether it is in the 1) mind's ear (from memory on 'how it goes', or )2 in the eye from the page. If you don’t read the dots it must be 1) unless of course your brain is seeing the dots as sounds in your mind's eye, flowing up and down in the air (not on the paper).

 

When I want to start something I KNOW, I (I think)half hum/ almost soundlessly whistle it.

I may be starting in a lower or higher pitch, but if it "sounds right" then I can carry on in pretty well perfect pitch. If I hum it 'off' key (I hear it sharp or flat) it will seem "not right" and I so I adjust a little till it sounds 'right'. The difficulty for me is when I have to start it in a key which matches the 'fixed' key instruments, rather than them following me.

 

Now that may simply be due to my having heard/sung/played it many times before; and it is just a question of triggering the memory button. Like fish - you don’t need to be a fish scientist to know if it is bad - the fish will "tell you" (by smell) that it has gone off!

 

An example or two:

melody only: Fanny Power by Carolan - just halfwhistle/hum/sing try the first two bars with its repeating two note phrase, half whistling under your breath. If you sing it flat or sharp it will 'sound odd'. Then you adjust till it sounds right:

 

More complicated:

I have been trying to track down a polyphonic piece by Perosi (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lorenzo_Perosi )

 

I do not have the score for the four-part and have not seen it for many decades (ok! I first sang it aged 10,a year before Perosi kicked the bucket in October 1956.

 

I know exactly in my brain/halfwhistle how the piece concerned (Kyrie and Gloria) starts for the treble part - he is a pretty lyrical and schmaltzy sounding composer.

 

So I start searching (off an on over the last 10 years) and fail to find anything matching what is in my head.

 

I could find some utubes of various Perosi masses ( but they were not the 'right' melody to me). So perhaps my memory/brain/halfwhistle/were recalling something which my music memory bank had transmogrified. Also, some were down as three-part not four=part and I wanted the latter.

 

 

Here is one performance – listen to a bit and try to keep the melody in your head:

As soon as I listen, I know it is NOT what I am looking for or remember, unless, I think, my brain is addled.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6lrhry2SR7s

 

Then another wrong’un (my memory tells me) : but it has me in serious doubt as it seems to resemble what my sound memory is telling me I am looking for.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yt9i4abDqxU

 

and another wrong'un

 

and another wrongs’ (led by Captain Picard trying to take off at the back of the choir…)

 

and another

 

and another (going flat too early on – see reference below)

 

and another wrong'un (with some great bass notes in the Agnus Dei for Dirge - partikerly at end of Sanctus around 24mins but elsewhere too. They are generally spot on key wise – it is the Coro Vallicelliano di Roma.

 

and almost one to convince me my memory was wrong:

 

THEN

just two weeks ago, while suggesting various pieces of music for someone's player in their car, THEY found another version on youtube and bingo! My memory had been exactly right in terms of melody and the pitch. The mass was the Missa Pontificalis Prima.

 

One should be able to pick out the main melody on tina without a problem.

And if you stick it through a mic and speaker the full voice/organ melody should be amazing.

OK – this is the newly found (the one I was looking/listening for, starting with the Gloria, but note it is mixed three-part (miste tre parte) and I know I should be looking for a four-part.:

Coro Voltrimusica

 

And ditto the ‘correct’ Kyrie** below (and Mike, listen to that great schmaltzy shift in key by the sopranos/trebles at 1.min 23!) and the tenors climbing lyrically at 2.00

 

Now, of course, I do not know and I have no score to look at, what the key the piece is actually in – but I KNOW it SOUNDS exactly right and I can hit the start note spot on without any help.

**

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ESlNESoCWaE

 

and here is the ‘correct’ Gloria again, with four-part incl. trebles

 

and

 

and you can hear the core melody which started in the Kyrie repeating here in the Sanctus

 

In conclusion what I had in my mind-sound-bank was the Missa Pontificalis PRIMA.

 

In general this is probably why I like the midi facility – I may know the name of the tune, but do not “hear” the dots as I read them on the page. Whereas the midi takes me straight to the sound in my memory to get me going and THEN the dots on the page become an aide memoire, like a satnav voice tipping me off whether I go up or down at the next junction…...

 

So for me, the weakness that needs sorting, is how to work out in my head what key something is being played in by others.

 

My other option (which many of us do) is to squeeze my box quietly until it sounds ‘in tune’ with the lead/other players and then I can work out the key from my cheat chart on my tina or by the letter on which of my harmonicas matches and does not sound out of tune.

 

I would love to sit inside the mind of those who, when you ask what key, stare into space listening for a moment, and then tell you!

Real talent!

 

 

Finally for folk who start off sharp flat or missing the note altogether, the crude trick is to sound louder than them and drag em into the right sound over a few bars. Or sing before them at the start of the next section with the right note and then they tend to come alongside. Mind you, you also have singalongers who jump YOU at the start of a section of a song or melody and who can also be right off key.

I know a string player who always plays a little off at the start and other string players ‘pull’ him slowly to the right note/key.

 

Choirs often go flat as a piece continues (and you can hear that in one of the youtubes – the one with OldBoat in the url!) at about 3mins).

 

Another trick is for the lead singer to be a fraction ahead starting when a new phrase/verse begins to bring everyone back to the correct level. That’s another Whitby Middle Earth trick, if you start a song which is a little familiar to the punters, and do it really loud you can shut up the chattering drinkers at the main bar and they even start to join in!

 

 

PS

You could play around with this plain chant of Victimae Paschali Laudes, so see how it is interpreted in lots of later polyphonic versions by composers such as Perosi.

Hear and see the composer list for further search at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uxi_4D87hYM&feature=fvsr

 

Hope that was not too boring!

 

PPS I believe you can find the three-part score here: read the rights' notes.Perosi composed the M P Prima in 1897ish

 

http://imslp.org/wiki/Missa_Pontificalis_%28prima%29_%28Perosi,_Lorenzo%29

 

The Vatican does not seem to have a proper music/sound archive... you could try ringing their number VAT 69 but it may drive you to drink.

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You and I define "sight reading" in exactly the same way! "What I mean by sight reading is setting up the sheet music of a hitherto unknown piece, and playing it with reasonable fluency straight off - perhaps scanning through it visually first to look for pitfalls, like accidentals, modulations, or changes of key signature." Reasonable fluency (of a single melody line) is my definition of sight reading at an amateur/hobby musician level. Why you thought I connected sight reading with looking at written notation and 'hearing' the tune in my head I'll never know. That is yet another example of a professional skill I would love to have but doubt I will ever attain!

 

Since we all seem to be mean the same thing by "sight reading", can you please explain your earlier statement in which you appeared to be saying that sight-reading is the same on any instrument. I think it is this which has caused the confusion.

 

So far as I am concerned that is a skill which has to be learned anew for each instrument. The reading of the notation, and the scanning ahead " to look for pitfalls, like accidentals, modulations, or changes of key signature" is of course the same for all of them, but the process of transferring reading from the page into playing the melody is different for each one. I can sight-read (although not with anything approaching "reasonable fluency" on descant recorder, because that is the only instrument I learned in conjunction with written music, and I learned to associate the note on the stave with a particular fingering. All my other instruments were learned by ear and I haven't learned that association, so I can't play concertina from music. Were I to make the effort to do so, that would not help me in the slightest with sight-reading on guitar, or melodeon. Each one would have to be learned separately.

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Reading this about "do re mi" and learning to play by ear I want to point at the three articles or rather lessons I wrote in the magazine Concertina World of the International Concertina Association. Issues 438 of December 2007, 439, 440 and 441 of 2008. I have used the sol-fa system in these lessons to learn to play by ear.

On request of some readers I am planning to continue the "Learning to play by ear lessons" in the Magazine.

This is a great way of learning to play by ear but it takes practice (time) as does all learning.

How can I access these articles?

 

Don.

This was in Concertina World published by the International Concertina Asoociation. Maybe you can contact the membership secretary for copies. membership@concertina.org I will look into publishing some of this on my website concertina-academy soon.

Pauline

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Since we all seem to be mean the same thing by "sight reading", can you please explain your earlier statement in which you appeared to be saying that sight-reading is the same on any instrument. I think it is this which has caused the confusion.

 

I'll try Howard but to be honest I'm struggling to make this sound simpler than it is! Reading music is a skill, a not inconsiderable one I have to say but once learned the ability to read the pitch and duration of a note within the key and time signature of the piece (together with any written dynamics - almost unheard of in folk music) remains with you for life. The vast majority of musicians here play instruments with a range entirely within the treble clef. All that remains to differentiate between one instrument and another is the mechanics of the instrument you choose to play and that seems to be the problem here.

 

The rules of music are fixed and never, ever, change. The pitch of your instrument may oblige you to read music in the treble, tenor, alto or bass clef. You may play a concert pitch or a transposing instrument. Your chosen instrument may be fully chromatic or diatonic (Western music is specified here, I don't pretend to understand anything other than even tempered tuning) so the only thing that changes is the instrument and the mechanics peculiar to it. G is G no matter which instrument you play, the misunderstanding here is caused by people who fail to recognise that it is their instrument and its' unique foibles that cause confusion, not ever, the rules of music or staff notation!

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All that remains to differentiate between one instrument and another is the mechanics of the instrument you choose to play and that seems to be the problem here.

 

Exactly. It's one thing knowing that a particular tadpole on a line represents G, it's quite another knowing how to play that G on an instrument. And having learned to do it on one instrument, you'll have to learn it all over again for a different instrument. There's a distinction to be made between being able to interpret what's written on a stave and actually being able to play it. They are independent, albeit related, skills. I can read music, in the sense that I know what notes the lines and spaces represent and what the tadpoles and other squiggles mean, but I cannot sight-read (or to be more accurate I can play from music, poorly, on only one of the several instruments I play).

 

But I don't think we are in disagreement, it's just a question of semantics.

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  • 2 weeks later...

using Do Re mi etc I am getting better at going up and down the scale and also hitting notes accurately at random witha visual aid . I'm starting to do it with the letters of the noptes and the dots on the page too. I can now hear them mentally. I suppose eventually it sinks into the memory and becomes a more automatic recall.. Just lots of practice and repetition I think.

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