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Piano Note and Length of Stem reading music

Question: Mr. Frantz,

I’m so glad I found your website. It is very professional and beautiful – obviously a lot of work and thought went into it. The video segments on the website are terrific. You have a comfortable presence in front of a camera and a very pleasant voice and...

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Quarter Note reading music

A quarter note (also called a crotchet in British English) is a note in traditional Western music notation that is notated with a solid note head and a stem.

Here is a quarter note on a five-line staff:

When writing a quarter note (or any note with a stem), if it is below the middle line, the...

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Reading Ledger Lines reading music

Question: I am having so much trouble reading the part where Schubert departs from the lovely, melodic scenario at the beginning and begins this dark left-hand rolling undertone. I cannot read those left-hand notes. Can you help?

– Kat (Huntsville, Alabama, USA)

Albert’s reply:...

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Sharp and Flat Together reading music

Question: How do you play a note with both sharp and flat symbols in front of it?

– Richard (Singapore)

Albert’s reply: There shouldn’t be a note with both sharp and flat signs simultaneously – this is a contradiction in terms.

It is possible to have, say, a C-flat and...

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Sight Reading Methods reading music

Question: What do you think is the best method for training students for sight reading? Somebody said that one of the methods is practicing sight reading… do you have other methods? Thanks.

– Achilles (Malta)

Albert’s reply: By far the best way to learn to sight read is to...

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Compound Meter reading music

One of the more confusing aspects of learning to read music for many music students is compound meter. Also called compound time, I’ve seen virtually all music students and even many music teachers fail to understand its basics. This lesson will clear up the confusion once and for all.

Any...

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Simple Meter reading music

“Dictionary definitions” of simple meter (also called simple time) tend to be so confusing that they are of very limited use to beginning music students.

I’d therefore like to offer a simplified, more practical definition: Simple meter is any time signature with 4 or less as the...

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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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