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Thread: Best Beginner Book for Learning to Read Music

  1. #1

    Default Best Beginner Book for Learning to Read Music

    Hi!

    Just got my mandolin, complete beginner (never played any other instrument). I am primarily interested in playing classical, and would like to learn some fundamentals for reading music. What would be the best intro book?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Registered User Mark Marino's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Beginner Book for Learning to Read Music

    Debora Chen's book, "Standard Notation for the Tab-Addicted Mandolinist". This is not a book of songs which may seem tough at first, but this book presents a great, easier way to learn to read music and find the notes on a mandolin. If you want to play classical and read off a sheet, this is a great method
    "If you hit a wrong note, then make it right by what you play afterwards." - Joe Pass

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  4. #3

    Default Re: Best Beginner Book for Learning to Read Music

    Second what Mark said. This is a great book for learning how to read standard notation, regardless id you are addicted to tab notation or not.
    Collings MT-O
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    Bun in the oven: Girouard A Oval

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  6. #4

    Default Re: Best Beginner Book for Learning to Read Music

    Ah thanks Mark and Gary! And is this a book that would be good for a complete novice such as myself?

  7. #5
    mando-evangelist August Watters's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Beginner Book for Learning to Read Music

    The Mel Bay Complete Mandolin Method. No tablature, and good for beginners.

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  9. #6
    Gibson F5L Gibson A5L
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    Default Re: Best Beginner Book for Learning to Read Music

    Well ... a complete novice will have to understand tablature to use this book. That being said reading tablature is a straight forward process of matching up strings and fret numbers. Then you would be translating that information to notation. The process is possible for a novice. Take your time and this will work for you. Sight reading notation is a skill that requires serious practice just like reading words then on to sentences did. In notation you have symbols relating to pitch as well as time holding or repeating a pitch. Something else to think about would be a beginner violin book as the instruments are tuned the same. R/
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

  10. #7
    Registered User Jim Bevan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Beginner Book for Learning to Read Music

    The open high string on a mandolin is E. The first fret is F. The second fret is F#. You're going to ask yourself, "Huh?? Why isn't the first fret E#? Where's the logic in that?"

    Music notation is based on the layout of the piano keyboard (or vice-versa, a chicken/egg thing). If I were you, I'd buy Book One of the Leila Fletcher piano course, and work through that first. You'll intuitively absorb enough theory that you won't be frustrated later.
    They're also fun, musical pieces, easy to read, easy to play. Learning to read on a difficult-to-play instrument like the mandolin is going to be much harder if you're a total mandolin-beginner learning to read on the the piano will be a lot easier.

    I agree with everyone else's suggestions I'd just do this first.

  11. #8

    Default Re: Best Beginner Book for Learning to Read Music

    I’ll second a method book a great way to start out. Mel Bay has a discount code available in the classifieds thru today. Or Hal Leonard is another good method beeok as well.
    Northfield F5M #268, AT02 #7

  12. #9
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    Default Re: Best Beginner Book for Learning to Read Music

    Music tutor and MusicNotes for iphone are great apps to be used in conjunction with a theory book. They can really get the note you read immediately to your fingertips. One has a violin fretboard, but whatever, it works well and they are both free. The second is for quickly recognizing the name on the note. - you can get quite fast, quickly.
    Good luck.

  13. #10

    Default Re: Best Beginner Book for Learning to Read Music

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Bevan View Post
    The open high string on a mandolin is E. The first fret is F. The second fret is F#. You're going to ask yourself, "Huh?? Why isn't the first fret E#? Where's the logic in that?"

    Music notation is based on the layout of the piano keyboard (or vice-versa, a chicken/egg thing). If I were you, I'd buy Book One of the Leila Fletcher piano course, and work through that first. You'll intuitively absorb enough theory that you won't be frustrated later.
    They're also fun, musical pieces, easy to read, easy to play. Learning to read on a difficult-to-play instrument like the mandolin is going to be much harder if you're a total mandolin-beginner – learning to read on the the piano will be a lot easier.

    I agree with everyone else's suggestions – I'd just do this first.
    Well, the first fret IS E#, it also happens to be F natural.

  14. #11
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Beginner Book for Learning to Read Music

    Quote Originally Posted by August Watters View Post
    The Mel Bay Complete Mandolin Method. No tablature, and good for beginners.
    Now that you mention it, almost all of those older method books from the golden Age of Mandolin began with instructions on how to read music.

    https://ia801400.us.archive.org/34/i...olin01bick.pdf

    The old Bickford Book 1:

    excerpt:Click image for larger version. 

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    most of those PD books had sections on reading music

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  16. #12
    Registered User Jim Bevan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Beginner Book for Learning to Read Music

    Quote Originally Posted by David L View Post
    Well, the first fret IS E#, it also happens to be F natural.
    My point is that music theory isn't readily apparent on a string instrument. (Ya, I know that E# = F.) To a beginner, going from E to F to F# to G to G# to A doesn't make much sense there's a sharp between every note, but not always? Why?

    The way the system works is much more obvious to someone who's reading while playing the piano.

  17. #13
    Registered User pit lenz's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Beginner Book for Learning to Read Music

    In my web search on educational material I came across an old post from John McGann (RiP) from 2007. He kindly offered the Free Tab Reader's Guide to Standard Notation

    Unfortunately this link seems to be broken. Can anyone in this digital beehive point me to a working link or maybe send a copy of this guide?
    Thanks a lot in advance...
    pit

  18. #14
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    Default Re: Best Beginner Book for Learning to Read Music

    Looks like they have a copy here:
    https://archives.berklee.edu/_archiv...ann.html#ref13

    -but its a library (with all the restrictions that they have to endure). Ive no idea how you could access it.
    Shame about the site going down.

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    Registered User Jairo Ramos Parra's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Beginner Book for Learning to Read Music

    Free Tab Reader's Guide to Standard Notation in the attachment...

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Guitar and Mandolin Tablature Reader's Guide to Standard Notation.pdf 
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ID:	167029

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  22. #16
    Registered User pit lenz's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Beginner Book for Learning to Read Music

    Boy, that was fast

    You guys are the best!
    Thanks again...
    Pit

  23. #17
    Registered User Louise NM's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Beginner Book for Learning to Read Music

    +1 for the Hal Leonard book. I came to the mandolin reading, but it looked to me like it was well presented.

    You might also look at early method books for violin, as it is strung the same. The school music programs here use Essential Elements. I volunteered in a string program for several years, and thought the book was well laid out, and presented reading sensibly.

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  25. #18

    Default Re: Best Beginner Book for Learning to Read Music

    Quote Originally Posted by clarkk240 View Post
    Ah thanks Mark and Gary! And is this a book that would be good for a complete novice such as myself?
    Yep.
    Collings MT-O
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  26. #19
    Registered User zedmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Beginner Book for Learning to Read Music

    Cool--I may check some of these out ass I would like to get better at reading for mandolin--I haven't worked on that much--mostly have used tab or chords--so far--but I can read quite well for guitar & better than okay/decent for bass & would like to have that for mandolin as well
    Would it save you a lot of time if I just gave up and went mad now?

  27. #20
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    Default Re: Best Beginner Book for Learning to Read Music

    From the book, Tab Reader's Guide to Standard Notation:

    The Charlie Parker Omnibook
    John Coltrane Plays Coltrane Changes
    Coltrane Plays Standards
    Great Tenor Sax Solos Tim Price
    Bill Evans Trio (3 volumes)
    Jazz Conception Jim Snidero
    Reading Key Jazz Rhythms Fred Lipsius

    'Hey, none of the above are available in tablature!’
    -John McGann

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  29. #21
    Registered User mbruno's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Beginner Book for Learning to Read Music

    My personal favorite book to teach notation is The Children's Fakebook (https://www.amazon.com/Easy-Children.../dp/1458411222). It's a bunch of easy songs that you probably already know by heart - all you really need to do is remember FACE is the Spaces and Every Good Boy Does Fine.

    I find this is easier to teach to students and memorable. Nothing wrong with the books designed to teach you to read - I learned to read teaching kids to read with beginner books playing the practices slowly, multiple times a day, and singing the name of the note when I played. That was on guitar though

  30. #22

    Default Re: Best Beginner Book for Learning to Read Music

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Marino View Post
    Debora Chen's book, "Standard Notation for the Tab-Addicted Mandolinist". This is not a book of songs which may seem tough at first, but this book presents a great, easier way to learn to read music and find the notes on a mandolin. If you want to play classical and read off a sheet, this is a great method
    <Removed by Moderator. Please review the Posting Guidelines.>
    Last edited by MikeEdgerton; Oct-14-2018 at 2:09pm.

  31. #23
    Doc Ivory Doc Ivory's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Beginner Book for Learning to Read Music

    For me (and I'm returning to reading after a few years of tabs) was to look back at my beginner violin books.
    Pick up one at your local music store, they're cheap and very straight forward and of course, apply to mandolin.
    Doc Ivory
    -Play loud, live long..

  32. #24

    Default Re: Best Beginner Book for Learning to Read Music

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Bevan View Post
    My point is that music theory isn't readily apparent on a string instrument. (Ya, I know that E# = F.) To a beginner, going from E to F to F# to G to G# to A doesn't make much sense there's a sharp between every note, but not always? Why?

    The way the system works is much more obvious to someone who's reading while playing the piano.

    And then there are the flats.

  33. #25
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Beginner Book for Learning to Read Music

    Get a beginner fiddle book. It really does help.
    Indulge responsibly!

    The entire staff
    funny....

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