for pianists

What makes the piano special? Click here for some background.

This mnemonic blends the  21 notes of the bass and treble clefs into a single story each word giving you the letter and helping you find its position on the keyboard.

This is an beginners arrangement of America from West Side Story . It illustrates how the time signature 6/8 can easily change from 2×3 into 3×2. The teasing dialogue in the song is shown as a dialogue between right and left hand. To get in the mood watch this amazing YouTube clip.

Click here for an arrangement of the Chanuka song Maoz Tsur for beginner’s piano. The left hand is simple but melodic.

It takes a while to learn all 24 major and minor triads on the piano. They can be quite confusing . Some triads have a white major third and a black minor third, then for some its the opposite, For some both major and minor thirds are white. Click here for a guide to your journey.

Before you learn any piece it’s good to check you are at home with the key. This Key Snapshot, a triad held in the left hand while the right hand runs up and down one octave takes around 5 seconds to play. It allows each of the 7 notes of the scale to be heard against the 3 triad notes (and all their harmonics) so you can sense the key’s character.

Playing scales which need different fingering for each hand can present difficulties for the learner. Click here to print off charts that place the 24 major and minor scales  in three groups according to the pattern created between the fingering of both hands.

Every key signature offers you 7 notes. Out of those 7, only 2 notes usual get to win the battle for supremacy, the major tonic and the minor tonic, do and la. That can’t be fair. Don’t any of the other 5 notes get to be tonic? Sometimes they do, each creating their own atmosphere. Check out Scales, Modes and Chords by Key Signature for Piano. Click on the title for a link to ebay.co.uk.

The front cover shows Miles Davis jamming in the Dorian mode with Renaissance angels. See the art and design page.

The back cover has a parade of modes that you can line up to any note on the piano keyboard to get transpositions of the modes and a map of the regions of ancient Greece that they borrow their names from.

Here’s an outline of the ground covered.

It’s not easy to read piano music. You need to solve four puzzles before you can be sure you’re playing the correct note.

Are you reading treble or bass?

Can you count up and down the clef without getting lost?

Is there any key signature to remember?

Is there any accidental to remember?

Here is a Minuet written for the casual reader in a way that reduces the puzzle content, but is otherwise very similar to normal sheet music. It is taken from the Notebook of Anna Magdalena Bach. It is based on a set of twelve initials. Five are very familiar Re, Mi, Fa, So, La. Should the next note be Ti (the drink with jam and bread) or Si as is sung in Italy, Spain, France and just about half the world? Let’s keep the best of both worlds…. TSi. Sing it as Si, Ti or Tsi. That also gets over possible confusion with the other S word, So. The other strange initial is U. This belongs to the older name Ut which was doing fine until a certin Signor Doni came along and thought that it would be nice to leave the world something to remember him by and replaced Ut with Do. Actually this is a much nicer syllable to sing and begins with a distinctive consonant. So we thank you, Signor Doni. But unfortunately the initial D might make some people think of a different note, the D of the letter names A B C D … So lets write U and sing Do. What about the black notes? They follow the tail end of the alphabet V W X Y Z. Their vowels contrast with those of their neighbours so as to be as beautifual to sing as Do Re Mi. To make the consonants distinctive you can pronounce the Xe as the Greeks do, with a hiss at the back of the tongue, like the ch in the Scottish loch. The Ze can be pronouced as in Castillian Spanish like the English word they.

More information on this beginners/late starters notation is to be found here.

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