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Time Signatures reading music

A fundamental component of music rhythm, time signatures display the meter of a piece or section of music.

A time signature is composed of a top number and a bottom number. A common confusion is that the top number is the number of beats, and the bottom number is the beat unit, but this is only...

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Bass Clef reading music

Let’s take a look at the F clef. Here is the symbol:

Whichever line this clef is placed on is the F below middle C. For piano music it’s placed on the fourth line from the bottom:

Notice how the two dots in the F clef symbol straddle this line? When placed on this fourth line up,...

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Treble Clef reading music

This symbol is called a G clef:

It’s called a G clef because it curls around the note G. Whichever line the G clef is centered on is G. Let’s see it on the staff…

This is a treble clef. The symbol is called a G clef… but when it’s placed on the second line of a...

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What Is Music Notation? reading music

“Music notation” is a contradiction in terms. Music is heard, while notation is seen. Notating music is thus a translation from one sensory modality to another.

Yet in any translation, some information is bound to become lost.

“Written music” is thus an oxymoron. Music is...

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Whole Note reading music

A whole note (also called a semibreve in British English) is the longest note typically found in music notation. It is notated with only an open note head (like a half note), without a stem.

Here it is on a staff:

A whole note has a duration equal to two half notes:

… or quarter notes:

...
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Layout of Piano Keys piano

A piano keyboard may look confusing at first, but the layout of piano keys is actually very simple. While it would be nearly impossible to identify individual keys if all we had were the white keys, the pattern of black keys makes it easy to identify the keyboard layout. The black keys are...

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Bach Prelude in C sheet music

One of the most popular pieces among piano lovers, Bach’s Prelude in C major (BWV 846) is also a prelude to the Well-Tempered Clavier as a whole. It started out life as an exercise for Bach’s son Wilhelm Friedemann Bach:

This manuscript is in the hand of the young Wilhelm Friedemann,...

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Deck the Halls Sheet Music sheet music

Question: How do we know which chords to use in Deck the Halls in key of C?

Albert’s reply: I’ve created a simple arrangement and have made the “Deck the Halls” sheet music available for free download as a small gift to key-notes readers. (Just click the link to...

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Piano Practicing and Phrasing piano practice

Question: Hello Albert,

I read something you wrote under the heading Piano Practice and subheading Accuracy and quote, “we systematically learn our pieces phrase by phrase….”

This is something I have been pondering on for a long time and now question, how long is a phrase,...

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My Practice Routine piano practice

Question: Hello Albert,

I often read about practicing on your website, and you write a lot about how to practice efficiently, and how you get the best results. But if someone (like me) tries to focus on all the things you tell us on your website, it can be kind of hard to keep everything in...

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Making Mistakes in Practice piano practice

Learning a piece of music successfully requires avoiding mistakes in practice. How we practice is how we learn, and how we learn is how we perform. If we make mistakes in practice, we teach ourselves to make mistakes in performance. It’s a simple equation.

What exactly is a mistake?...

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How to Practice Polyrhythms piano practice

Question: What is your advice for playing polyrhythms? For example, simple polyrhythms like triplets against duplets or quadruplets and odd ones (Chopin’s favorite) like 4 notes against 35 or 13 notes.

My approach is lots of practice hands separately with the metronome but the odd ones...

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