Line and space drills

THURSDAY, August 20, 2020 – 11:17 PM

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Line and Space Drills

The most important reading skill…

Lines and spaces are the most important thing for reading music. You never need to know the name of a line or space when you play piano. You just have to know the letters of the white keys. By finding the right key you automatically get the correct letter name. I call this “reading the hand”.

01 Basic Lines and Spaces – LETTER answers

This is to connect letters to lines and spaces on my chart. The letters are not important at first, and in fact I prefer to skip this step. But for some people, starting without a chart, I have to go through this step to teach how to find the letter names for the keys.

02 Basic Lines and Spaces – NUMBER answers

This is where I prefer to start. Here you use my chart to find out how to link the lines on that chart with the keys that go with them, and to learn that notes with the label “ON” means to move to the next note to the right. Also, we have “under 1” for low D and F in the treble and bass clefs.

03 Basic Lines and Spaces – NO ANSWERS

This is to see which line number connect to the lines and spaces on my chart with no answers. We are still using the chart for the concept, but you have to fine each line and space with pure logic.

04 Beginner mixed lines and spaces

This mixes the lines and spaces up to one leger line above or below the staff. Find each one, then while you are looking at the hand you can name the letter. By this time a few students start to find notes without the chart. Getting rid of the chart is the goal. The chart is like training wheels. In fact, I call it my “musical training wheels”. When you don’t need it, it just gets in the way, and then you can give it to another beginning.

04a Lines and spaces intermediate

This is about the same thing as the last exercise, but with more notes on the page.

05 Intervals in C Major to 1 Leger Line

This is the same thing as above, but now you are reading two notes. The idea now is to make the mind start to understand how to play more than one note at the same time and understand the logic. By this time, if possible, you want to do this without the chart. Intervals are two notes played at the same time.

06 Diatonic Chords in C Major to 1 Leger Line

Same as above, but now with three notes forming chords. Two notes is an interval. Three notes makes a chord.

07 Diatonic Chords in C Major to 2 Leger Lines

Now the chords go up and down to 2 leger lines. It’s another step in logic.

08 Diatonic Chords in C Major to 3 Leger Lines

Now the chords go up and down to 3 leger lines. Yet another logic step.

09 Chords with two accidentals advanced

Now the chords can have up to 2 #s, b’s or naturals. This is a huge step in logic, and most students have the whole system when they get this far. There can be other exercises, and I may add them, but by this time reading music itself is probably a better way of increasing reading speed. “C ness” is my term for playing in the key of C, all white keys, when you are allowed to slip and slide to all of the black keys.

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7 thoughts on “Line and space drills

  1. There is so much which is right about this. The randomness means our ears don’t end up predicting so that we are no longer really seeing. Lines only simplifies, because “space notes” are simply between or above/below lines however you want to see it. This “simple” thing has made a great difference in reading for me.

    1. The important thing for my students is, in general, NOT using letters for these. The reason: you start with numbers only, which even very small children can do. At the same time, you play chords and drill on the letter names. When letter names are completely absorbed, they are there. When the numbers for the lines and spaces are absorbed, they are just there. When we play, we don’t think about names. They have to be there, but the trick is just never to miss playing the right keys. Then the names will be present.

      1. In the way I “read” music before, even when I first tried to retrain, I was strangely oblivious to the lines. The fact that there is a middle line, with two above and two below. Ledger lines, actually seeing how many there are. I don’t know why becoming aware of this makes a big difference – letter names did not do that – only that it does.

        1. As you know, the first thing I show people is that there are 5 main lines, and how to line them up with the keyboard in both clefs. Knowing where the middle line is remains the most important thing, because you don’t want to climb up 5 lines – too many steps – or use a mnemonic to get there.

          The other thing is that line 5 is also the top line, and you can start there. You don’t have to count up to 5. You can just know where it is. The way lines and spaces are normally taught is insane.

    1. Thanks, Louie. I know for a fact that two top pianists and teachers are using these drills with their own students. I think none of my students comment on them because they all get them in lessons and perhaps don’t even know they are here.

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