Post by Ludwig77
Do they make any software that will more or less produce random
notation that can be used for practicing reading music?
I play by ear so once I know the melody, my tendency is to rely on
what I've heard over what I'm seeing.
Not knowing what instrument you play does make some small differences
as to how to learn to read but not that much. I will answer your
question with simple reading and you can take it from there.
Reading is not really that difficult. It is much easier than learning
English for example (or any other spoken or written language) and
hopefully, most of us are literate.
First of all. Learning to read will in no way hurt your ability to
learn things by ear and will not present a problem with remembering
music that you learned by ear.
When I start my kids off reading, I emphasize counting. Experience
shows that if you know when you are supposed to play something,
learning which note to play becomes MUCH less of a problem. My
approach to learning music in general is to break things down into the
smallest components. If you learn the components in the proper order,
once you learn one to the extent that it is automatic, then you go to
the next component.
Playing, reading and understanding music is a series of very simple
concepts that only become complicated when one has to think of each of
the layers necessary for the end result. When broken down, reading
music is extremely simple.
Here is my suggestion:
Concentrate on rhythmic reading. Learn to instantly recognize the
length of the note and how to place it on a matrix of counting the
beats and the subdivisions. Start simple and progress to more
complicated rhythms. You can use any beginning band method, instrument
method or a graduated set of musical sheet music. Any of them will
work although the ones that provide the most variety of rhythmic
patterns will be the most helpful.
There is an old snare drum method (Podemski's Snare Drum Method) that
is an excellent place to start as it does not dwell on learning
patterns but starts very simple and progresses, without hardly any
repeated patterns, through an vast amount of rhythms in a relatively
It is also good to use melodic examples, but do not worry about the
notes in the beginning. As you read the rhythms, you will be seeing
the shape of the melody and this is more than enough for the first
stages. (IT also provides a good start to sight reading the notes
without an instrument)
Once you can easily read the rhythms, or after you have progressed
enough to "know" the rhythms, then put the notes to it. Note reading
is simply reading a graph. Once used to the graph, it is really easy
to see the name of the note as well as the distance it is from the
previous note and to the next note. Your mind will be free to
concentrate on this as you have already made the rhythm a part of you
so you don't have to think about the rhythm. You are free to play the
When you reach this stage, do not stop playing if you make a wrong
note. Keep on going with the rhythm in your head and play the notes as
you are able to pick them up again. This is the key and I really
should have mentioned this in the rhythmic section. NEVER stop the
flow of the music when learning to read (or when rehearsing for a
performance). music. If you are practicing, you may slow down or speed
up, but do keep it smooth and do not stop and go back and start over.
Keep the music alive by continuing to have the counting matrix and the
rhythm in your head. Later keep the melody in your head as well and do
not stop for mistakes.
If you are making too many mistakes and it falls apart, then take the
problem sections and rehears them, but in general, ALWAYS go from
beginning to end and work to keep it steady. It will take a while to
get used to this concept but it really will work. You can play it
really slow and speed it up as you learn it, but keep the music going.
Even with performance mistakes, your mind will still be learning to
"hear" the music as you progress through the music with the mistakes
and all. As your technique gets better, your mistakes will
disappear.ALWAYS think of the finished product in your head the best
This is the short explanation. If you are interested, I will be happy
to go into more detail if you follow this approach. If you do work on
learning to read in this manner, you will amaze yourself at how easy
it is. Start with easy pieces and progress to music that is more
challenging to your technique. The process is the same for Mary Had a
Little Lamb as it is for reading a Parker solo. Practice your reading
slowly so that your mind had a chance to process everything. When you
can read and play without the mistakes, your speed will automatically
speed up. If you learn to play through the wrong notes and rhythms
while keeping the background matrix, you will progress very quickly.
In no time, you will be reading music up to the point that your
technique allows you to play it.
Good luck and enjoy your reading. Remember that you started out
reading your native language slow, do the same thing for reading
music. Don't rush it and you will get results more quickly.
The first thing is to get comfortable with the counting ( the
background matrix), then what the notes look like and getting your
fingers etc to play them on command, and then keeping the continuity
together and you are on your way. Once you can master these skills at
a slow tempo, your speed will increase dramatically and this will
happen very quickly if you play a lot, more slowly if you don't.
Enjoy and don't be afraid to ask.