All about fusion

TUESDAY, October 13, 2020 – 5:03 AM

What is fusion?

Fusion is the combining of two skills until they become one in our minds. For instance, when you read text, the symbols on the page become so linked to the words they represent that the two things become inseparable. In our minds the words we read become the words we know by sound. Then those words and the sounds the make are fused together with the things they represent. When you say the word “dog”, that word and the sound of that word becomes one with the animal, as if the word and the animal are the same thing.

The fusion of the keys with their names…

We know that there are 52 white keys and 36 black keys. We know they form a pattern. The white keys have names, either solfege names (do re me fa sol la ti do) or letter names (C D E F G A B C), so we fuse the names of the keys to the keys themselves.

The fusion of lines and spaces with  keys…

We learn which line and space notes link to which keys, and that becomes another kind of fusion. We don’t need any names to do this. We just need to get from the line or space to the key. Theoretically someone could read music without names, and in fact when we are reading fast that’s what we do. We play many keys in a blur, and we press the keys way faster than we can even think of names.

The fusion of the lines and spaces and their names…

In the beginning lines and spaces are one thing, and the names of the keys are another thing. One really has nothing to do with the other in the beginning. So, how do pianists link these two things together? How do they look at a line or space and automatically know the name of those things? The answer: those lines and spaces become fused with the location, and that gives us the names instantly. When we see a line or space, we also see the key in our minds. Then, when we look at a key, we see the line or space that connects to it. The name and location are fused into one thing, in your minds.

Don’t name the lines and spaces until you press the right keys…

Instead, find the keys and name those keys when you get there. This may seem like a delay, but it is the opposite. You want to get to the key before thinking of a name, then you get the name from the key you press. Later that becomes instant, and you can’t think of one without the other. That’s the fusion, and the fusion is the magic.

Why is FACE so bad?

First of all, even if you remember this trick you have to say four letters to get to the name the top space. That’s slow. But a worse problem is that you have to remember the letter before you can get to the key. That’s 100% wrong. However, what’s the worst thing that can happen with this idea? Answer: there are at least seven white keys on the piano with the same letter name. There are actually eight A’s and eight B’s. So if you name a space before finding the key, you have only a one in seven or eight chance of being correct.

Also, FACE only works for the treble clef, and anything that does not work for both the treble and bass clef will soon be a disaster.

How about “Every Good Boy Does Find”?

Beside the obvious question about why girls do not also “do fine”, it also has the same problems. To get to the top line you have to go through five lines or five steps, then when you finally get to “F” you have to remember which key is F. But then you have the additional problem that there are seven F’s on the piano, and six of them are wrong answers.

What if these mnemonics work for you?

They are still a horrible trick because they don’t work for the bass clef. In the bass clef every line and space has a different name, so the treble clef letter names start to fight with those in the bass clef. If they work at first, they fail later.

Why a keyboard chart?

Because the chart stops you from memorizing wrong answers. It stops you from going to the wrong keys. It stops you from guessing, fumbling and hesitating. The keyboard chart is not permanent. It’s a temporary crutch or aid to get you started, and the moment you don’t need it anymore you get rid of it, or give it away to someone else who is just starting.

When do you know you have the whole thing?

You are halfway there when you instantly know the letter name of every key without hesitation. Then as you look at each line or space, if you hand reaches for the correct key every time, your reading is in place and you have the other half.

Reading is playing…

Beginners don’t understand that. They think “reading” is about looking at notes and remembering their names. This has nothing at all to do with what we do. Reading means instantaneously playing the keys that go to the notes on the page without even thinking about it. Yes, we can always name the notes, but at full speed we are pressing keys so fast that we could not name them, nor would we want to. It would be like speed-reading text while trying to name every letter of every word we are reading. This is obviously impossible. As you are reading text, you don’t even want to be saying the words to yourself. It slows you down. In the same way, as you are actually playing music you just turn those notes into actions that produce music, and you never name anything except when you are explaining to someone else what you are playing.

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