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Learning to read - and write - music
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November 17, 2012 - 9:09 am
Member Since: March 14, 2012
Forum Posts: 1732
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Here's another philosophical music question:

Does learning to write music help one learn to read music?

It occurred to me recently that this might be the case. Even though I learned to read music a long time ago, when I was working on creating a simpler version of Red Wing for myself, I realized that I was learning and relearning things about musical notation.

What I did was to redo it by copying from a printout into Finale Notepad, then modifying it where I needed to. I've done the same thing with a few other songs, using MuseScore. The process of placing and editing notes, rests and other notations was instructive.

So, I thought maybe it would be helpful to those here who are learning to read music at the same time that they're learning to play the instrument if they did something similar. They could pick up a blank music notebook and copy songs by hand with a pencil. Or download a free copy of Finale Notepad or MuseScore (I recommend the latter.)

After all, when we learn to read as children, we learn to write at the same time. We're not writing original compositions at the beginning, but rather learning how to make the letter shapes, punctuation, sentences, paragraphs, etc. That has to go hand-in-hand with developing reading skills.

Any thoughts?

When the work's all done and the sun's settin' low,

I pull out my fiddle and I rosin up the bow.

Kevin M.
Nicholson, Pa

November 17, 2012 - 9:36 am
Member Since: September 10, 2011
Forum Posts: 1969
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For me that is what worked best for me. When I started learning violin everything on the videos was in a notation form.  I stated, using Finale Notepad, writing the music down and it made life very easy then to read music and understand it better.

California, the place of my heart
November 17, 2012 - 10:33 am
Member Since: January 11, 2012
Forum Posts: 4168
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Diane... I like this tip.

I always take my music to to work with me and try to practice on my lunch on while on a call.  But I think If I was  writing it down, it would work well for me.  That is how I used to learn in school.  I would write a study guide and write all the answers.  By  the time I was done writing it all down it was as good as studying for me.

Something I have encountered that is inhibiting my reading is that on easier shorter songs.. once I have read it and played it.... I have it almost there I go playing again without really reading as I is more from memory and my eyeballs go back to my left hand.



Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

Stockholm, Sweden
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November 17, 2012 - 1:15 pm
Member Since: August 22, 2012
Forum Posts: 302
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Yes! I've had the same experience while learning the violin. As a piano student, I never wrote any music down (partially due to a lack of cool software or a printer for the blank staffs....), and as a result my understanding of pauses and note length was rather rudimentary. Now that I do, though, I find I'm able to sight-read a bit better; I don't have to completely know the rhythm of the song in my head to be able to play. Highly cool observation, and your reasoning is absolutely logical! No one ever learns to read without writing – in fact I think most kids start writing things like their name and the alphabet before learning to read.

But I also have the same problem as you, Toni. Years and years of dancing has given me a very good memory for patterns in my movements, which is highly useful for playing instruments too! confused

~ Once you've ruled out the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be true. ~


November 17, 2012 - 2:09 pm
Member Since: May 4, 2012
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I never thought about it, but when I was learning to sight read for piano, I was also taking music theory.  So I was doing plenty of writing down as well, though not in the piano class.  It probably did help.

Before that, I could figure out notes from the staff, but not well enough to sight read.  I still had to use tricks like FACE and "Every Good Boy Does Fine" to figure out notes.. Which is *kinda* reading music, but more in the sense of how someone beginning to read or an adult semi-literate person has to "sound out" words to figure out what they are.

I took piano because sight reading on it was one of the objectives it took to pass the class, and I wanted it so I could feel like I could "really read music" finally.  I had always rather envied people that could pick up a score and just play it.

But yeah, I'd say that writing the notes definitely helps for learning them in some ways.

"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

Honorary tenured advisor

November 19, 2012 - 10:00 pm
Member Since: September 7, 2012
Forum Posts: 985
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Yes, I think that writing is going to help with reading, for the reasons you mention and probably others.

I think that when you write and then make the software play back what you have written,  you may be surprised if you haven't written it correctly.  That has to lead to better understanding of notation and of the music itself.

I wonder how many people here take a piece that they remember or one they find as audio and then construct the sheet music from the music that they hear or remember.  I do that sometimes, and it has led me to a lot more understanding.  Especially I have learned a lot about key signatures, scales, and modes that way.  One of my main goals is to be able to play any easy tune that I hear or remember---without practice and correctly, the way people can sing or hum something without trying hard.  Sight reading I don't care much about for now, but I want a basic competence reading so I can play something without hearing it first, even if I have to plod through it slowly.

Russia, Tatarstan rep. Kazan city

November 24, 2012 - 11:24 am
Member Since: October 7, 2011
Forum Posts: 2849
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RosinedUp said
...I wonder how many people here take a piece that they remember or one they find as audio and then construct the sheet music from the music that they hear or remember. ...

I do sometimes, when i play something by ear and use it as a reminder..

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