Monthly Archives: October 2013

"Gotta get to my study room!"

AC #29: Treble Staff, Bass Staff, and Grand Staff Note Drills

Continuing from AC #28, this post is for my beginner students and you if you need to learn or review the names of the lines and spaces on teble or bass staffs or staves! Which do you say?

Is it staff or stave? Staffs or staves? Does it matter?

I’ve seen this question posted on the Internet and I’ve heard it brought up in various forums.   I’ve always written and said “staff” and “staffs”. Either way people write or say it is fine with me.  This little girl expresses her opinion on such questions by singing this song!!
For me, the more important question is how to internalize and use the information represented on the lines and spaces of said object(s).  By using some of the great music software programs available to us today, this objective can be achieved in shorter amounts of time and with much more fun than was ever possible before… provided you like computer technology of course!

That said, I’ll sign-off right here as I leave you with a brief definition of the Line and Space Sequences, and a few words about the following 10 staff note drill applets,

See you next post.

Practice Well!

Line Sequence: The following series of line-notes ascending from Middle C – C-E-G-B-D-F-A. Space Sequence: The following series of space notes ascending from Middle D – D-F-A-C-E-G-B. Memorize both sequences and use them to help you learn the staffs and answer the questions.

Online use of these applets is absolutely free for everyone courtesy of Ricci Adams. Visit his site, as your support helps him to continue developing these great music ed tools.

All questions may be answered by mouse-clicking the answer buttons or by “qwerty” key entry in conjunction with the up & down arrow keys when answering questions on sharps and flats, i.e. if C# is the question, press/hold the up arrow key first, then answer with the qwerty C key.  If Db is the question, press/hold the down arrow key first, then answer with the qwerty D key. Mouse-click once anywhere in the applet before using the “qwerty” keys to enter your answers.

1: Name The Treble Staff Line Notes
Note Identification #1: Use The Line Sequence from C4 (Middle C) * C – E – G – B – D – F – A

2: Name The Treble Staff Space Notes
Note Identification #2: Use The Space Sequence from D4 (Middle D) * D – F – A – C – E – G – B

3: Name The Treble Staff Line and Space Notes
Note Identification #3: Use Both Line and Space Sequences from C4 and D4
Lines * C – E – G – B – D – F – A  /  Spaces * D – F – A – C – E – G – B

4: Name The Bass Staff Line Notes
Note Identification #4: Use Line Sequence from C2 (2LedgersBelow) * C – E – G – B – D – F – A

5: Name The Bass Staff Space Notes
Note Identification #5: Use Space Sequence from D2 (2LegersBelow) * D – F – A – C – E – G – B

6: Name The Bass Staff Line and Space Notes
Note Identification #6: Use Both Line and Space Sequences from C2 and D2
Lines * C – E – G – B – D – F – A / Spaces * D – F – A – C – E – G – B

7: Name The Grand Staff Line Notes
Note Identification #7: Use Line Sequence from C2 or C4 * C – E – G – B – D – F – A

8: Name The Grand Staff Space Notes
Note Identification #8: Use Space Sequence from D2 or D4 * D – F – A – C – E – G – B

9: Name The Grand Staff Line and Space Notes #1
Note Identification #9: Use Both Line and Space Sequences from C2 & D2 or C4 & D2
Lines * C – E – G – B – D – F – A / Spaces * D – F – A – C – E – G – B

10: Name The Grand Staff Line and Space Notes #2
Note Identification #10: Use Both Line and Space Sequences from C2 & D2 or C4 & D2
Lines * C – E – G – B – D – F – A / Spaces * D – F – A – C – E – G – B

"Gotta get to my study room!"

AC #28: Piano Starts Here! Learn The Piano Key Names!

Learning piano key names is among the very first things I have my beginner students do. 

However, many times, during the preliminary stages of working with non-beginner students at varying levels of development, I discovered significant gaps and breaches in such fundamental things as knowing the names of the piano keys and/or the lines and spaces of the grand staff. 

The focus of AC #29 will be about learning the grand staff. The focus of this post is exclusively on learning the names of the piano keys! So, if you are an absolute beginner or someone who may need to go back to the very beginning to review, for whatever reason, this post is for you.

Use the four utilities on this page in their numerical order of presentation to help you drill and thoroughly learn the piano key names starting with the white keys first.

White keys and natural keys are synonymous and, as illustrated in AC #10, white keys were the only keys present on the world’s first piano keyboards. That said, you should earnestly study the natural keys first before moving on to the next step of learning the names of the black keys.

Each red-note question may be answered by using your mouse or qwerty keyboard commands in conjunction with the up & down arrow keys when answering questions on sharps and flats,  i.e. if C# is the question, press/hold the up arrow key first, then answer it with the qwerty C key. If Db is the question, press/hold the down arrow key first, then answer with the qwerty D key. Mouse-click once anywhere in the applet before using the “qwerty” keys to enter your answers.

Since each exercise utility is never-ending and presents questions indefinitely, you’ll want to set  some type of completion benchmark such as answering 100 questions correctly or you might use the clock timer, located at the top of each utility, to set a time limit, such as 5 to 10 minutes. If you use the timer method, be sure to click the Reset Score button when you start each utility. In either case, keep working until you have a success rate that’s between 90% and 100%.

Practice well!

Art

Name The Natural Keys (White Keys)
Keyboard Note Identification #1: Your first mission is to learn the names of the white keys.

Name The Black-Key Sharps
Keyboard Note Identification #2: Your second mission is to learn the black-key sharp names.

Name The Black-Key Flats
Keyboard Note Identification #3: Your third mission is to learn the black-key flat names.

Name All of The Keys Quickly
Keyboard Note Identification #4: Your fourth mission is to name them all quickly!

"Gotta get to my study room!"

AC #27: “T” it up!

 ATTN: All Instrumentalists and Vocalists! This post applies to you!

As you’re listening to some music and you hear a melody, a phrase, a motif, or an arrangement that draws your attention because it “speaks” to you and you really like it, you should “T-it-up”! What do I mean by that? You should transcribe it! You’ll benefit whether you “T” all of it, or only a fractional part of it! Just get in there and “T” something up!

I borrowed the title phrase for this post from the world of golf. I’ve been a fan of Tiger Woods for a long time. Through his actions on the golf course and his interviews, Tiger has always demonstrated that he possess a deep knowledge of golf on many levels. He has frequently spoken about the high regard and respect he has for golf’s “elder statesmen” like Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicholas. He’s spoken specifically about the fact that he’s watched many videos of them and studied them.

In the world of music, you’ll find many musicians, including myself, who have the same kind of high-regard and respect for music’s “elder statesmen”. For instance, whenever someone asked The Beatles and Eric Clapton questions like “who most influenced you?”, they’d always name Chuck Berry first as they spoke about their high regard and respect they had for him.  Whenever Chuck Berry was asked that same question, as he addressed it in his autobiography, he’d immediately credit his local peers, the great boogie-woogie pianists and the great Nat “King” Cole as he spoke about the high regard and respect he has for them all!

So, I was particularly delighted when one of my students, bass player Nicholas Gendron, originally an ear training student who by the time he signed on with me had already done complete James Jamerson transcriptions on his own by ear, spoke to me about the high regard and respect he has for many of the same great jazz bassists for whom I share the same feelings. When Nick expressed his interest in expanding his ear training studies to include having me work with him on “strengthening-up” his walking bass lines, I immediately suggested that he start right away on transcribing some of the great jazz bassists. I agreed to get right in there with him and do some of my own transcriptions of some of the bass veterans also to share with him in his lessons. So for this post, I decided to give you  the complete transcription I did for Nick of what the great Israel Crosby played on “But Not For Me” from one of Ahmad Jamal’s classic albums.  You can view the video and download this PDF too!

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The information you can get from studying transcriptions is invaluable, and by all means, I strongly suggest that you, and all serious students of improvised music, should do a lot of your own transcription work! Don’t get me wrong. It’s definitely ok to draw information from the transcriptions of other people, however, the benefits of doing your own transcription work will pay bigger dividends because, in doing so, the information you derive gets planted deeper into your musical soul by the nature of the do-it-yourself process.

Whether you do one-chorus, multiple choruses, single phrase, multiple phrases, right-hand only, left-hand only, both hands, partial heads, full heads, partial arrangements, or full arrangements… you’ll be doing something that’s good for your musicianship!

The focus of your transcriptions are determined, of course, by whatever your objective may be at any given time. For instance, you might limit the focus of your transcription to getting the actual musical notes only! Or, you may want to exclude the actual notes and focus on obtaining chord progressions only, as in getting the chord changes of some particular song or tune. Perhaps you want everything… actual notes, chord changes, articulations, and dynamics too! Ear training makes it all available to you.

You can write your transcription work down on manuscript paper using standard music notation, or you might write it down in some other form on unlined or lined notebook paper for that matter! If you have a good memory, you can even skip the writing-it-down process altogether and simply keep it all in your head, as Nick did with his James Jamerson transcriptions. If you can do it, I recommend you do some of both because it’s all good!

At the time of this post, Nick is in Aruba! He’ll be starting his own page within my site soon after he returns so if you’d like to follow Nick on his page, check back in a few weeks and just type or paste his name into any search box on my site.

Remember that although your teacher or coach can point you in the direction of what work you need to do, it is YOU that has to DO the work by practicing!

Do some listening and “T” something up!

Practice well!