FORUM

Please have a look at our Forum Rules. Lets keep this forum an enjoyable place to visit.

A A A
Avatar

Please consider registering
guest

sp_LogInOut Log In sp_Registration Register

Register | Lost password?
Advanced Search

— Forum Scope —






— Match —





— Forum Options —





Minimum search word length is 3 characters - maximum search word length is 84 characters

No permission to create posts
sp_Feed Topic RSS sp_TopicIcon
Help With Reading Music
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (1 votes) 
Avatar
EJ-Kisz
Midwest, US
Members

Regulars
July 23, 2013 - 10:53 pm
Member Since: April 9, 2012
Forum Posts: 605
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

Hi everyone!  

I was curious to see what helpful tips everyone has for sight reading and playing!  

I've heard someone suggest to say the note out loud as you play it to help remember and it seems to be working for me.  What works for everyone else?

-----

For some strange reason, I am having problems reading music and playing at the same time.  Really strange is that I can sight read really well.  ......just for another instrument though.  

When I see an "A" on the staff, I don't think "violin-open A string/4th finger D string," I think "Trumpet-1st & 2nd Valve."  I can't seem to get out of that habit because I've played trumpet for over 20 years.  Does anybody have any helpful advice?  It seems to be holding me back, big time!

Also, when I do read music and play violin at the same time, my bowing is horrible!  I sound scratchy and squeaky.....almost like I just picked up the violin for the first time.  But once I commit the tune to memory, my bowing is fine again.  Does this happen to anybody else?

Much thanks in advance!!  This has really been bugging me lately!  ......well, that and Tamlin.....LMAO

Cheers!

~EJ

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” ~Benjamin Franklin

SkullSmall-1.jpg

 

Avatar
Ginnysg
Southern California
Members

Regulars
July 23, 2013 - 11:24 pm
Member Since: May 13, 2013
Forum Posts: 255
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

The first time I look at a new piece of music I usually read the notes aloud as I read the music.  Then the first time playing the song I usually go through it without the bow, just picking the notes on the strings.  if the song is (for me) complex I may go through it a couple of times that way.  Then in pick up my bow and play.  Otherwise I get the same result as you where my bow is all over the place.

I don't know if that's good, bad, or ugly, but it seems to work for me.  I'm sure others here will have some great advise for you.

“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent” 

Avatar
EJ-Kisz
Midwest, US
Members

Regulars
July 23, 2013 - 11:36 pm
Member Since: April 9, 2012
Forum Posts: 605
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

I've actually been doing that lately.  Instead of bowing, I'll sit there and pluck out the notes.....which takes me forever to remember where the notes are on the violin! LOL  

 

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” ~Benjamin Franklin

SkullSmall-1.jpg

 

Avatar
Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
July 24, 2013 - 9:16 am
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 11694

That comes with time Erik. Eventually, if you practice sight reading, you can see the notes and actually feel the right finger automatically. Kind of like typing....
The thing that helps me the most is reading way ahead.

Maybe the Violin Fingering Game and the Rhythm Counting Game can help some people.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

Avatar
coolpinkone
California, the place of my heart
Members

Regulars
July 24, 2013 - 3:20 pm
Member Since: January 11, 2012
Forum Posts: 3755
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

Reading ahead... I think that is going to help.... I just hate also when lose place.  I keep doing that with Greensleeves.... Drives me crazy... It is a easy song.  The good news about loosing my place is that if I want to keep playing I am forced to guess the note (maybe muscle memory or the good ole ear kicking in).  I am not sure. Sometimes it works... Sometimes not.. :)  

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

Avatar
Picklefish
Merritt Island, Fla
Pro advisor
Members

Regulars
July 24, 2013 - 4:48 pm
Member Since: June 25, 2012
Forum Posts: 1281
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

EJ-Kisz said

Hi everyone!  

I was curious to see what helpful tips everyone has for sight reading and playing!  

I've heard someone suggest to say the note out loud as you play it to help remember and it seems to be working for me.  What works for everyone else?

-----

For some strange reason, I am having problems reading music and playing at the same time.  Really strange is that I can sight read really well.  ......just for another instrument though.  

When I see an "A" on the staff, I don't think "violin-open A string/4th finger D string," I think "Trumpet-1st & 2nd Valve."  I can't seem to get out of that habit because I've played trumpet for over 20 years.  Does anybody have any helpful advice?  It seems to be holding me back, big time!

-My avice is to go ahead and write in the fingerings above the notes until your brain waves pick it up on their own.-

Also, when I do read music and play violin at the same time, my bowing is horrible!  I sound scratchy and squeaky.....almost like I just picked up the violin for the first time.  But once I commit the tune to memory, my bowing is fine again.  Does this happen to anybody else?

-Its a classic case of your brain focusing on one thing and letting other "non essential at the time" tasks slide. The cure is to keep doing it till its fixed. the fact that you can memorize the tunes is awesome!-

Much thanks in advance!!  This has really been bugging me lately!  ......well, that and Tamlin.....LMAO

Cheers!

~EJ

"Please play some wrong notes, so that we know that you are human" - said to Jascha Heifetz.

Avatar
EJ-Kisz
Midwest, US
Members

Regulars
July 25, 2013 - 10:59 pm
Member Since: April 9, 2012
Forum Posts: 605
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

Fiddlerman said

Maybe the Violin Fingering Game and the Rhythm Counting Game can help some people.

DOH!!!!  b-slapfacepalmdroolinglumpy-2134bunny-headbang

I completely forgot about those games!!!!  They could have been helping me the entire time!!

Yeah, I think repetition is going to be key for me.  When I first picked up the violin, I only skimmed through the beginner lessons due to my prior familiarity with reading music.  I really didn't want to sit through countless hours of learning music theory again.  I just had those trumpet scales and runs burned into my brain since 1985.  Kind of hard to let go of those! LOL  

And I think that's where I'm getting tripped up again......  I do read several measures in advance! LOL  But, it doesn't do any good when I can't remember where the notes are on the violin while trying to constantly correct my bow hold!  rofl

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” ~Benjamin Franklin

SkullSmall-1.jpg

 

Avatar
Crazymotive
Honorary advisor
Members

Regulars
July 26, 2013 - 12:44 am
Member Since: January 18, 2012
Forum Posts: 342
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

Learning to read ahead is important, especially when you start learning to play very fast. One thing that helped me was to play a piece faster than the recommended tempo. This forces me to read ahead and by the time I slow down to the recommended tempo for a given piece everything seems to fall into place and I don;t miss notes.   Also, a lot of this comes with time and practice. Eventually it should become automatic, as you read through the music and read ahead your fingers automatically fall into the right place without even thinking of the note itself. Of course it gets even trickier when you start playing very fast pieces with lots of accidentals thrown in and time and key signature changes, notes marked stacatto, etc. You have top be able to read ahead and react automaticallywith respect to fingering and bowing changes.. I found the thing that helped me the most was to try to play fast... as it forces me to get used to reading ahead and developing those "automatic reactions".

Avatar
Quirk
Member
Members
July 26, 2013 - 5:56 am
Member Since: January 24, 2012
Forum Posts: 34
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

I cheat and write the notes below. So twinkle little star is A A E E, F# F# (E), etc

I circle the note to show a half note while double circle to show full note.

Then 8ths get an underline and 16ths two underlines. Comma's divide the notes into their proper groupings. It helps me a lot, but it probably hampers my note reading ability.

Once I know a piece i can then play by reading the music properly.

I started out not even knowing what a fourth looked like. My music classes at school consisted of learn 'Summer of '69' and 'Smoke on the Water' on the guitar by memorising the fingering. The teacher had perfect pitch and seemed to think everyone had as well... That is why I hated music for so long.

(Seriously a year of music class and we barely learned those short riffs.)

Play something simple and dumb like twinkle little star or Mary Had a little Lamb to get used to the reading of music. That is how I learned. Glaring at my book while fumbling for notes.

Maybe that helps a little. Muscle memory eventually takes over.

Avatar
Ralash-Tanaf
Member
Members
July 26, 2013 - 10:35 am
Member Since: July 24, 2013
Forum Posts: 5
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
10sp_Permalink sp_Print
0

I think the key to this is not to memorize the notes with your head but with your fingers.  Eventually you won't even have to think about what note is what fingering.  It becomes automatic.  Right now, I'm trying to think of some of the fingerings I use on the flute but I just can't do it.  Yet I know that if I were to pick it up right now, my fingers would automatically fall into position for each note.  I've noticed the same thing is starting to happen when I practice the violin and I haven't even been practicing for very long.  It's just something that comes naturally, after a while.

Avatar
DanielB
Regulars

Members
July 26, 2013 - 12:28 pm
Member Since: May 4, 2012
Forum Posts: 2379
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

I think that the biggest problem when people try to teach themselves to read music, especially adults learners, is that they try to take too big a first bite.

When you were learning to read as a small child, you started with words like "cat" and "dog", not "cacophonous" and "dysfunctional".  Sure, those longer words may be more interesting, but it is easier to start short and familiar words that don't use digraphs or unusual combinations of letters.

The same logic can be seen from the beginning of most courses in touch typing.  You do not usually start out with typing "The quick red fox slyly jumped over the lazy brown dog."  You start by learning to put your finger on "home row" and the first day or two of exercises will likely just use the index fingers typing things like "f j f j f j ff jj ff jj fj jf fj jf jfj jfj" and etc.

There is a reason why we teach people to read and type that way.  It is easy, it acquires the necessary skill pretty quickly, and there is less confusion and frustration.

I don't know how many times I have heard noobs on music forums being told "Just go as slow as you need to, to get it perfect.  You'll be fine."  No offence intended folks, but that is kinda BS.  Probably not intentional, but the people saying it maybe just don't remember what it was like at first with learning to read music.  To get a clear notion of what I am saying here, imagine some little kid on his first day of school.. they get told the alphabet and how each letter is supposed to sound, and then the teacher puts words like "cacophonous" and "dysfunctional" in front of them.  "Just sound it out, take all the time you need.."  LOL Is that really a good way to do it?  I don't think so.

Or imagine if you are taking a touch-typing class, and they sit you down at the typewriter and give you "The quick red fox slyly jumped over the lazy brown dog" and tell you to go as slow as you need to, but don't you dare look at your fingers.. Oh and use perfect form, don't forget to sit up straight... Well, I'd say your chances of learning to touch-type aren't real good.  But your chances of dropping out of that class are excellent.

What you need for learning to sight-read for violin is something where it starts with just a few notes right next to each other, so you can let your fingers and eyes spend a few days learning those notes well, and then add more notes to build on that.  There are etudes and exercises, but let's face it.. Nobody really wants to play exercises.  Old and young, big and small, we all want to play songs, pieces, real music.     

Even starting with a major scale is too much for reading at first, in my opinion.  Sure, it is "only eight notes", but I think three is better.  Three notes would be pretty hard to mess up.

The other problem that especially adult learners face, is that we don't really want to play "Twinkle Twinkle" or "Mary Had a Little Lamb".  They're ok.  But they are kind of a come-down for the adult ego, when what you need in those first few days is a come-up. 

So I am going to suggest a piece of music for anyone having trouble learning to read music or sight-reading on violin.  It is a baroque piece by Jean-Baptiste Lully, who was one of the French baroque masters.  So, even though it may be easy for a beginner to play the main theme of it recognizably on a solo violin, it is a respectable piece. 

So here is the score I worked up for my own practice a few months back when I decided that I was going to learn to read for violin.

Screenshot-6-1.pngImage Enlarger

There are some particularly useful things about this score for learning to read music for violin.  First of, it is in the key of C Major.  There are probably more pieces of "easy" grade sheet music written for the key of C than any other.  So, if you learn to read for the key of C, you automatically get access to a ton of free music that is out there out there all over the internet.

Secondly, the first 4 measures use only 3 notes, that are right next to each other.  So for the first day or two of practice, you don't need any letters or etc, you can just see that it's the low one, the middle one or the high one. 

Also, there is some repetition.  Learn the first two measures, and the 3rd and 4th measures are the same as the first two.  That is half the piece, right there.  But as an added bonus, the last two measures are also the same.  So as soon as you learn those first two measures, you have this piece 75% whipped!  Gotta love that!  LOL

The first two measures run (starting from the C on the low G string of the violin):

CCCD E D   CEDD C

Very easy.  And if you do it for maybe 10 min a day (call it two 5 min sessions with a little break in between to check email or see if anything interesting is going on with the forum or whatever), inside of a few days you will know those notes so well that they will be like second nature to you.  If you want to learn the letter names at the same time, you can sing them along while you play.  That adds in a little ear and voice training.  I spent two days on it, because I wanted to make sure I had it down cold, and I just love a bit of overkill.  It might take someone completely new to reading music as much as three or four days at the most, I would guess.  Maybe a couple more days to learn measures 6 and 8, and you'd have the whole piece down.

But more importantly, you'd be able to read almost the whole "low register" for the violin, and have almost a full octave's worth of notes in a very commonly used key. 

What I did next was transpose it up an octave and learn those notes.  That went quicker, even though I was still taking it very easy on myself and not spending more than 10 min a day on it.  I took 2 days for that, you might take a couple more or one less.  Doesn't matter.

That only leaves one note to learn to know the whole C major scale for two octaves on the violin, the F.  Pretty easy to learn one note.  Add the G and perhaps the A on the high E string, if you like, and you can now read for violin in "first position" (I prefer to call it the mezzo-soprano voice of the violin, since it is approximately that range for vocalists) in a very useful key, the key of C.  

That is kind of like knowing your "home row" in touch typing.  But different because you can play a lot of songs with a couple octaves of the key of C.  You can't type much useful stuff if you only know the home row in touch typing.

Seriously, it can be just that easy.  10 min a day for less than a week and I had it down pat.  No need to write any letters or finger/string numbers on the score, no need to mess with "every good boy does fine" or "FACE" stuff.  I honestly think that for most people, a week and maybe a few days, 10 min a day, and that is all it is going to take to be able to read/play violin from score in any beginner piece in the key of C.  The other keys come easy when there's pieces you want to learn that need them. 

Anybody who wants to try it and would prefer to have the score as a pdf (or wants score for the "transposed up an octave" version), just let me know.  I just didn't want to leave a big black window in the thread.

(Added bonus for any viola or cello players who actually read this long post!! I also, as an exercise for myself, scored it for viola and for cello.  My "version" for those instruments is maybe even a bit easier, since I dropped some measures down another octave to take advantage of that low C string.  Let you use all that delightful low dark sound that you paid good money for. LOL  If anybody maybe wants score of this piece for either of those instruments, let me know.)

sp_PlupAttachments Attachments

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

Avatar
Picklefish
Merritt Island, Fla
Pro advisor
Members

Regulars
July 26, 2013 - 4:47 pm
Member Since: June 25, 2012
Forum Posts: 1281
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
12sp_Permalink sp_Print
0

@Daniel- I think the lack of feedback and the unsurety of the self taught process is what discourages most people. I can see where it can be overwhelming and frustrating real quick. Having an instructor from the beginning really does go a long way. Its the "what to do daily" question that had me bugged from the get go.

"Please play some wrong notes, so that we know that you are human" - said to Jascha Heifetz.

Avatar
Ginnysg
Southern California
Members

Regulars
July 26, 2013 - 8:58 pm
Member Since: May 13, 2013
Forum Posts: 255
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
13sp_Permalink sp_Print
0

Thank you Daniel - that really made a lot of sense.  I've printed out the song and will also transpose it up an octave - unless you want to post that pic as well.

 

“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent” 

Avatar
DanielB
Regulars

Members
July 26, 2013 - 9:37 pm
Member Since: May 4, 2012
Forum Posts: 2379
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
14sp_Permalink sp_Print
0

Sure thing, Ginny, here you go:

Screenshot-7.pngImage Enlarger

 

@Picklefish: I agree.  One of the nice things about classes or teachers.  If they're good, they break the stuff down into bites that are small enough that the student can't really get confused.  Do that, and the basics come pretty quick and easy. 

What I presented here is pretty much the same as how we were taught in the "Beginning adult piano" class in college, where I first learned to sight read.  Inside of the first two weeks, everyone in the class could play through any reasonably simple melody in C Major.  Without any tricks for remembering note names or etc. 

Learning to read treble and bass clef at once and play a different line with each hand and chords and etc is what took the rest of the semester.  But fairly early in the semester, I figured out I could sight read up to at least a certain level of complexity for piano.  I celebrated by going out and buying myself an inexpensive Casio with full size keys and velocity sensitivity and a sustain pedal.  And for about the next 6 months i had fun playing through just about every piece of sheet music I could lay my hands on.  LOL

It was great fun..

sp_PlupAttachments Attachments

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

Avatar
EJ-Kisz
Midwest, US
Members

Regulars
August 7, 2013 - 10:44 am
Member Since: April 9, 2012
Forum Posts: 605
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
15sp_Permalink sp_Print
0

Thanks Daniel, I do see many of my trumpet students trying to jump into music that's just out of their skill range.  You need to crawl before you walk, right?  

I especially like the typing analogy.  It reminds me of all those countless classes of typing "F J F J F J F J" or "T U T U T U T U!" lol  Now, I don't even thing about where certain letters are, I just type!  The same can be said for reading music.  When I play trumpet, I just go to the correct fingerings and embouchure position!  

UPDATE:

Well, I stumbled on to a little trick that works for me.  Since I have years of experience playing trumpet....and not so much on violin! LOL  I discovered similarities between the 3-valve fingerings on my Bach & the fingerboard of my fiddle! Many of valve positions mimic violin fingerings!  1st valve=first finger, 1 & 2 valve=2 finger, et.  Not all notes are like that due to the trumpets embouchure positions, but it's starting to bridge the gap and help me read a little bit quicker.  

I still struggle with the higher notes and intermediate music at times, but it's a lot farther along than before!  

Between FM's tutorial/games here and just visiting the sheet music page, I feel like some of my ability to sight read is coming back!  Little victories, I guess! LOL   

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” ~Benjamin Franklin

SkullSmall-1.jpg

 

Avatar
Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
August 7, 2013 - 12:48 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 11694
16sp_Permalink sp_Print
0

I'm glad to be of help. thumbs-up

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

Avatar
RosinedUp
Honorary tenured advisor
Members

Regulars
August 7, 2013 - 12:50 pm
Member Since: September 7, 2012
Forum Posts: 985
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

EJ-Kisz said
When I see an "A" on the staff, I don't think "violin-open A string/4th finger D string," I think "Trumpet-1st & 2nd Valve."  I can't seem to get out of that habit because I've played trumpet for over 20 years.  Does anybody have any helpful advice?  It seems to be holding me back, big time!

 

I don't think anyone has addressed what I see as a context-switching problem: trumpet vs. violin fingering:

I'm a former trumpet player now playing fiddle (and so is @Mattwatt).

Do you remember the reading comprehension questions on standardized tests?  You were presented with a few paragraphs of text and asked a half-dozen questions about it.  Then a few more paragraphs on a different topic and another set of questions, and so on.  Preparing for one of those tests once, I developed a technique of context switching.  At the end of one set of questions I would take say ten seconds to think of that topic and tell myself to forget it---that the next set of questions was on a different topic.  Then I would go to the next passage and its questions and quickly try to identify its topic and main ideas and try to relate them to whatever I happened to know.  While reading and answering the questions I would always keep the context and topic and main ideas in mind.  Having answered the questions I would tell myself I was finished with that topic and was about to start a new one.  It helped my scores a lot!

So as obvious as it may seem while you are playing violin, I think it may help to tell yourself continually that you are playing violin and not trumpet.  At the start of practice you could just hold the violin and caress it (!) and look at it and say "violin" or "now I'm playing the fiddle" for some minutes.  And during practice you could take the fiddle down from your chin every five minutes and stare at it for ten seconds.  And do the analogous thing when you are playing trumpet.  Keep telling yourself you are playing trumpet and not violin, and stare at the trumpet.

I'm talking about developing different compartments in your mind, different mindsets and an ablility to switch between them, like different rooms in a house, shelves on a bookcase, or drawers in a desk. 

You might consider some temporary aids such as practicing the two instruments in different rooms, or wearing a funny hat, tying a string on your finger, or turning on a colored light bulb while playing trumpet. 

I think your technique of comparing commonalities and differences between the trumpet and violin fingerings also serves to increase your awareness of which instrument you are actually playing at a given time.

Avatar
EJ-Kisz
Midwest, US
Members

Regulars
August 7, 2013 - 1:24 pm
Member Since: April 9, 2012
Forum Posts: 605
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
18sp_Permalink sp_Print
0

That's a really good point, Rosined.  I try to do that sometimes, but I think I need to remind myself more often.  I like to get "lost" in the music I'm playing and that's when I believe I'm messing up the most.  I just have to stop and remind myself.....violin......violin.....NOT trumpet! LOL  

It was really hard in the beginning.  In college while prepping for solo work, I would, not even knowing, finger through an entire song or section while driving or sitting through a lecture.  I just spent so many hours working on the different dynamics and nuances of trumpet music that it really became part of my everyday life.  

I think the issue comes up more when I do focus on the dynamics and ornamentation of the song I'm playing.  Again, I just have to focus on the basics, primarily notes and the location on violin! LOL  More importantly, patience!  I like to get ahead of myself sometimes and knowing how to read music doesn't help! 

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” ~Benjamin Franklin

SkullSmall-1.jpg

 

Avatar
coolpinkone
California, the place of my heart
Members

Regulars
August 7, 2013 - 6:42 pm
Member Since: January 11, 2012
Forum Posts: 3755
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
19sp_Permalink sp_Print
0

@RosinedUp  I like that suggestion.

I can start doing that with cello and violin.   Nice points.  Nice reply!

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

Avatar
allisonyli
Member
Members
August 8, 2013 - 5:42 pm
Member Since: August 8, 2013
Forum Posts: 10
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
No permission to create posts
Forum Timezone: America/New_York

Most Users Ever Online: 231

Currently Online:
39 Guest(s)

Currently Browsing this Page:
1 Guest(s)

Members Birthdays
sp_BirthdayIcon
Today Ginnysg
Upcoming HeadCheese, lakelivr, harvestman, fiddlinmama

Top Posters:

coolpinkone: 3755

Mad_Wed: 2849

Barry: 2661

Fiddlestix: 2637

Oliver: 2439

DanielB: 2379

Member Stats:

Guest Posters: 1

Members: 3552

Moderators: 0

Admins: 2

Forum Stats:

Groups: 16

Forums: 56

Topics: 6439

Posts: 80299

Newest Members:

dbsimon, stirlingite771, mdedmon, coreshanethi, wisco kid, Yael

Administrators: Fiddlerman: 11694, KindaScratchy: 1650