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Thread: Recommended Resources for Learning to Read Music?

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    Registered User cbroadbridge's Avatar
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    Question Recommended Resources for Learning to Read Music?

    Hi all,

    So I'm trying to learn to read music, and I'm struggling with it a fair bit. As some background, I've played hard rock and metal guitar for about 20 years, and I picked up the mandolin about years ago. I really love the mandolin and want to get better at it, but having learned from tabulature basically my entirely life, it's almost like going back to the start!

    My father-in-law is a very competent musician, and gave me a good primer on music reading, but he's unfortunately not around very often so I can't arrange regular lessons with him. I'm hoping to find some good resources online for learning to read music, ideally with a mandolin focus. If anybody out there has any recommendations, I would gladly accept them!

    Thanks,


    Craig

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Recommended Resources for Learning to Read Music?

    This one teaches reading notation using mandolin tablature. Luck R/

    http://www.stringthingm.com/Standard...Tab_Mando.html
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

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    Registered User Louise NM's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recommended Resources for Learning to Read Music?

    You will have to go back to the start, briefly, to pick up this skill, but then you can charge ahead with a whole new world of music available to you.

    There are a lot more resources available aimed at violin. Seeing as violin and mandolin are strung/fingered the same, that's probably your best bet. I volunteered in a school music program for several years that used the Essential Elements series. You could learn a lot by working your way through the first book for violin. The little tunes will be well beneath your skill level, but you will need to back up a bit before moving forward. One note at a time, one string at a time. You could probably move through a beginning book quickly.

    When I started mandolin I used the first book by Rich del Grosso for Hal Leonard. I went into this from a violin/viola background so reading is second nature, but it looked like it was well-designed for someone wanting to learn to read while learning to play. There are books on the Mel Bay website aimed at mandolinists wanting to learn to read standard notation. I haven't ever seen one in the flesh, so can't vouch for them first hand, but they do exist.

    There are a couple of websites designed for violin—but that doesn't matter—with electronic flashcards to practice reading. They free, so there's nothing to lose by starting there.

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    Default Re: Recommended Resources for Learning to Read Music?

    To re-learn how to read music I got a children's book on how to play the recorder. You might also look for a children's book on how to play the piano or violin. Because it was for children, it taught how to read the music. It seemed silly at first to start over from scratch like that, but it was really helpful.

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    Registered User cbroadbridge's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recommended Resources for Learning to Read Music?

    Thanks for these ideas everyone, gonna give them a shot!

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    Default Re: Recommended Resources for Learning to Read Music?

    I took this online music theory class that the University of Edinburgh offers and found it really helpful, particularly coming from a completely self taught, punk rock, learned everything by ear background!

    https://www.coursera.org/learn/edinburgh-music-theory
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    Default Re: Recommended Resources for Learning to Read Music?

    I would check out a method book from Mel Bay (40% off thru today). Yes, it’s basic but it will get you started from square one and you can go thru it as fast as you’d like, each lesson introduces some notes then reinforces with exercises and songs. It’s how I learned guitar over 50 years ago now, a great resource for someone learning how to read notation.

    Also, lots of YT and online stuff to check out some better then others. Good luck and have fun!
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    Default Re: Recommended Resources for Learning to Read Music?

    I learned what little I know, from the front of the Fiddler's Fakebook. True said, you can basically read mandolin and violin right from the treble clef. My problems are two fold: I know a lot of melodies by ear. So in order to follow a sheet of notation I have to find something firstly, simple, secondly, something I haven't heard. Because my ear will kick in and take over. Then it's like anything learned, if I don't use it enough, it slips away. I just realize if I read as many hour notation as I've not, it would be second nature, like it is for many. It's so do-able. But it just has to be addressed. Find some situation where you need to read music often so it sticks.

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    Default Re: Recommended Resources for Learning to Read Music?

    The wonderful thing about standard notation is that you are not limited to music written for mandolinners.

    I second the idea of a violin beginners book. Same range of notes.


    I learned on a beginners clarinet book. Its what I had, back then.
    Indulge responsibly!

    The entire staff
    funny....

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    Default Re: Recommended Resources for Learning to Read Music?

    Quote Originally Posted by cbroadbridge View Post
    Thanks for these ideas everyone, gonna give them a shot!
    Get a book of tunes you know well in your head like nursery rhymes or Christmas tunes. Make sure it is in standard notation only no TAB.

    Then start finding the notes on the written staff on your mandolin. Keep at it. Get more sophisticated sheet music. It is that simple. Bonus: While you are at it notice how the melody notes relate to the chord at hand. Is it the root; the third; some other note; perhaps even not related to the key?

    Here is an inexpensive one on Amazon

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    Default Re: Recommended Resources for Learning to Read Music?

    FWIW with those books I had with tab and notation I covered the tab over.
    - Jeremy

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    Default Re: Recommended Resources for Learning to Read Music?

    If you have access to a cheapo keyboard, even just to borrow for a bit, you might check the public library for a intro piano book. That way you are seeing the natural layout of the notes and chords on the instrument it is based on.

    Then when you get get through that you can find goobs of material to show you the mandolin fretboard layout and work on matching up the notes. But at least you will understand what it is based on.

    You can still work on scales and chords on mandolin in the meantime.

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    Default Re: Recommended Resources for Learning to Read Music?

    Try ALFRED'S TEACH YOURSELF TO PLAY MANDOLIN.
    You will learn to read music and the muscle memory your hand needs to go to the fret board while connecting the dots. Best of all this happens simultaneously.
    This is how I learned as I just didn't have the patience to do tablature. Tablature just seems to me to be way too much work.
    Good luck.
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    Default Re: Recommended Resources for Learning to Read Music?

    I would agree that getting a book of basic tunes for mandolin or violin is a good place to start. As a supplement, I would suggest learning scales. Most of the music you will learn in the beginning will be tonal with almost all of the notes in one scale or another. If you know the scale well your fingers will have an easy time finding the notes. Just learning the G and D major scales will take you a good way.

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    Registered User Perry's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recommended Resources for Learning to Read Music?

    I still stand by my suggestion of getting a book of tunes you already know the melody to in your head. You will relate the notes on the staff to your instrument and ear that much more quickly.

    It also takes a bit of the other facet of standard notation out of the picture; the rhythm of the notes as you already know the tune in your mind's ear.

    P.S. TAB on mandolin is probably the most useless and overrated use of TAB for a string instrument. Unlike a guitar there are not that many repeat notes on a mandolin fretboard.
    That said TAB can useful for chords or chord melody but so are chord grids.

    If you can't name every note on your mandolin fretboard I'd start there.

    So learn standard for mandolin and the world is your oyster.

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    Default Re: Recommended Resources for Learning to Read Music?

    Go to the home page of this site and click on the Learn/Listen banner, then choose TablEdit Library. Download the free TEFview player, and all of the files on the Mandozine site.

    You can set the player to play at a very slow speed, and to show standard notation only. Then pick a song you know, and you have a follow the bouncing ball approach to learning music. It was the best thing I've ever done. You can pick different keys, if you want to practice in the dreaded Eb position, for instance.

    Lots of tutorials out on YouTube if you can't quite get the hang of it.
    A quarter tone flat and a half a beat behind.

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    Default Re: Recommended Resources for Learning to Read Music?

    Get some written music that you like and want to play in standard notation only. That's been working well for me, anyway. I decided I wanted to play some show tunes, and got the vocal scores for Fiddler On The Roof and South Pacific. These were available only in standard notation, so the easiest way to read it was to just get used to translating standard notation to the mandolin fretboard. Another thing that's been helpful for me is writing out mandolin chords in standard notation. It's all about seeing the fingering of notes as represented on the staff.
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    Default Re: Recommended Resources for Learning to Read Music?

    Transposing tunes from one key to another. Not just snapping on a capo, but with staff paper and pencil, helps one to familiarize with staffs and clefs. I think of keys and key changes as the first bridge to music theory. To me, theory is not a dreaded thing but a label for a handy bunch of tools.

    There's a supposition, correct or otherwise, that most of the musical conversation is around Bluegrass and/or Old Time, like what's contained in the Fiddler's Fakebook. But there's only a billion other ways to go. I don't know too much about classical, but I know what I call, lounge lizard stuff, can be had in a Hal Leonard Real Book. Hal Leonard's Real Books now have branched out into many volumes, directions and iterations. Mind you they don't pull punches, complicated tunes and songs are not simplified. They also seem to be in their respective key that they were originally recorded. I just mention this for things like Show Tunes, Tin Pan Ally tunes, Rat Pack era tunes.

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    Default Re: Recommended Resources for Learning to Read Music?

    Every Good Boy Does Fine, and FACE. All you need to know!

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    Registered User Rod Freeland's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recommended Resources for Learning to Read Music?

    All of the responses so far are good advice, but if you want a very highly regarded resource, check out "Standard Notation for the Tab-Addicted Mandolinist" by Debora Chen (http://www.stringthingm.com/).

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    Default Re: Recommended Resources for Learning to Read Music?

    Pick a method you will do.

    Some people will diligently work through a method book that systematically introduces new concepts. Others will lose interest in those types of books and quit, because they aren’t playing the tunes they love.

    Once you have a few basics, you can still become a good reader just by reading tunes you love every day. If the tunes you love don’t teach you the entire fretboard, that’s probably okay. You only need to know what you need to know.
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    Default Re: Recommended Resources for Learning to Read Music?

    On Ipad or Iphone, Music Tutor appClick image for larger version. 

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    Default Re: Recommended Resources for Learning to Read Music?

    Quote Originally Posted by Perry View Post
    I still stand by my suggestion of getting a book of tunes you already know the melody to in your head. You will relate the notes on the staff to your instrument and ear that much more quickly.

    It also takes a bit of the other facet of standard notation out of the picture; the rhythm of the notes as you already know the tune in your mind's ear.

    .
    Using tunes that you already know might help you to relate the written notes to the mandolin, but playing tunes that you don't know improves your reading skills. One of the biggest problems with using tunes that you know is that the tunes in beginner books usually DON'T have the tune that you know, they have some "easier" (incorrect) version. This is especially true of rhythms. I regularly change notes and rhythms in beginner books.

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    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recommended Resources for Learning to Read Music?

    I found in taking selections from the actual vocal scores I mentioned in an earlier post helped me to brush up on reading and apply it to mandolin. Though I know and love most of the tunes from South Pacific, for example, I'd never played them, didn't have all the lyrics memorized, didn't have the melody well enough to play by ear, and had errors in how I heard/remembered some of the rhythmic elements - so it was just familiar enough to help me get going, yet not so familiar as to hinder me from improving my reading skills. It was a good starting point.
    Technique, theory and fun, fun, fun. I love playing, studying and sharing MUSIC.
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