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Double Flats

Question: I am learning the Schubert Impromptu Op. 90, No. 3. Everything was going great until page 5. That’s when the double flats came into play. I need help on identifying those double...

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Finding the Notes on the Keyboard

Question: How does one really remember to look at the key note on paper and find where it is on the piano? I want to be able to see the note and play it on the keyboard. It takes me forever to...

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Grand Staff

The grand staff (also called “great stave” in British English) is a pair of clefs connected by a brace and used in particular for keyboard music:

Most often, the upper staff has a...

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Half Note

A half note (also called a minim in British English) is a note in traditional Western music notation that is notated with an open note head and a stem.

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

...

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How to Find the Melody

Question: I was wondering if there is a trick to figuring out the melody line on a score. Is it always the top notes? What happens when it goes to the left hand? Is there something you are looking...

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How to Read Piano Notes

Learning to read piano notes need not be drudgery! This article will introduce you to the basics of piano music notation.

The first thing you’ll notice when you open up any piano music is...

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How to Read Piano Tabs

Piano tablature notation is designed for simple music, and it’s easy to learn.

Piano tabs are written primarily using letters and numbers. Letters designate the keys to play (as opposed to...

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Learn Music Notes

This lesson will introduce you to the essentials of music notation. In it, I'll summarize the essentials of the system of notes and how to read them.

Western music is written on a staff that...

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Ledger Lines

Question: I know the notes are E, F, G, A, B, C, D, E, F, but how do I tell what the note is when it goes over or under the lines?

– Suvannah Nicole (Columbia, Tennessee, USA)

...

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Piano Note and Length of Stem

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...

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Quarter Note

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...

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Reading Ledger Lines

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...

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Sharp and Flat Together

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...

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Sight Reading Methods

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....

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Compound Meter

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...

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Simple Meter

“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...

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Time Signatures

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...

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Bass Clef

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:

...

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Treble Clef

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 ...

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What Is Music Notation?

“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,...

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Whole Note

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...

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Reading Piano Music

For most piano students, reading piano music is one of the biggest hurdles in learning to play the piano. I’ve therefore assembled a series of practical, general tips that will help you read...

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Writing in Fingerings

Question: I am returning to playing the piano after 20 years. I took lessons from the age of 8 until I was 17. My problems are fingering, sight reading and arthritic fingers. It’s a real...

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Training the Eyes

Question: I have a few students who have great difficulty reading the notes on the staff. It has been brought to my attention that it may be due to a tracking problem which falls into the category...

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Synchronizing the Hands

Question: Is there any “rule of thumb” regarding playing notes in both clefs, at the same time? In other words, do the stems need to line up or do the notes need to be directly over...

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