Music Sight Reading

One of the fastest ways to increase your turnover time is to be very good at sight reading. Why? Because if you can sight read to a high standard, you’ve eliminated one stage that many people can find very time consuming – learning the notes.

If you’re spending weeks learning the notes, something needs to be done. If you can start learning your notes straight away, and be able to play the piece through (even if it is at 3/4 pace), then you’ve cut down a lot of wasted practice time. There’s lots of different methods to help improve sight reading, but the best way is practice. Finding a book with lots of tunes in it will help, but there are other things to help out as well.

In the AMEB syllabus, in what they describe as Level 2 (Grades 5 to 8), they expect the candidate to demonstrate in the sight reading:

* Accuracy in time and rhythm

* Accuracy in pitch

* performance at the tempo indicated in the music

* Dynamics, articulation and style as indicated.

Now, for the exam, they’re probably going to give you sight reading that’s a few grades below what you’re sitting for. For example, if you were going for grade 6, the sight reading could well have been considered as syllabus pieces for the grade 3 repertoire. So you’re expected to do a bit more and be able to add in dynamics, articulation and style. For our purposes we don’t need that, as we’re not sight reading below our playing level, we’re sight reading at our playing level.

But what can we do to improve our sight reading level? Grade exams might well be the key. If you’re up to pieces in grade 5, go back and start at grade 1 (or preliminary if available) and use the pieces in there as sight reading. Aim to do one each day, and go through the book. Ideally, do a different syllabus than the one that you originally took the exam in. For example, if you did your exams under the AMEB, then you should probably get the books from the ABRSM or Trinity, or other similar examining bodies. This way, you’re less likely to run into pieces that you’ve already played. If you’ve already played it, then it’s not sight reading.

Start quite low down, and work your way up. You’ll notice that you’ll need to develop some techniques to help you along the way. First of all, as is becoming a theme in my posts, visualise what it is that you’re going to play. Sing it through in your head, and hear the rhythm, if not the notes as well. At the very least you’ll be able to hear some intervals. The next thing you’ll quickly need to learn is the art of being in two places at once. Or possibly three places. However, I’m not into defying physics here, we need to rely on our memory to help us along. In order to process what it is we’re going to play, we need to look ahead. That way, we’re not always reading the note and reacting to it. So instead, what you need to get into the habit of is taking snatches of information. Starting at the beginning of the piece, you might grab the notes and rhythms of the first two bars. You’ll then look at the third bar while you’re playing the first bar, and then have a quick look at your fingers or bow or whatever just to make sure it’s all happening smoothly, and then look at the second bar as a refresher. You’d then look ahead to the fourth bar, while playing the second, and repeat and so on. In this way, we’re constantly preparing our mind for what’s coming up, and also reminding ourselves of where we are, and what we’re doing.

I’ve recently gotten into reading some organisational life blogs. The type of things that help you declutter and reorganise your life to be more efficient. As a lot of the time I’m talking about making our music practice more efficient, I thought this might be a useful place to get hints as to things I could bring across into my music practice. One post by Scott H Young talks about doubling your reading rate, and also of being able to read 70 books in a year. If you’re interested in that, head over and take a gander. Anyway, the trick is to learn how to speed read, which isn’t reading incredibly fast, but instead is knowing when you can gloss, and when to get more dug in, and also being able to process quickly.

It’s like that with sight-reading. Most of the time, you’ll want to be able to gloss – pick up the shape of the melody, and use your musical knowledge to know where the tune is going. Unless you’re sight-reading Schoenberg or some other 20th century artist whose works are hard to guess where they’re going next, you’ll be able to get a fair idea of what’s going to happen. I have fun in sight reading my students works, and guessing what’s on the next page, and it’s surprising how often I’m close, if not dead on the money. You’ll also want to know where you need to stop glossing and actually bog down in the detail. Thankfully with music, there’s often an easy way to know this. The blacker the page is, the more you need to pay attention. Because generally, if the page is black, then there’s lots of notes (both actual note heads, and also stem tails). That generally means that you’re going to need to be aware because it’s probably fast, or a complicated rhythm, or both. That’s the stage where you need to stop glossing and start being really aware of what you’re playing.

You also need to be able to process quickly. A lot of the violinists that I’ve talked to often don’t think of the notes when they’re playing. While this seems like an odd thing, it actually makes a lot of sense. They’ve gotten so used to where the notes are, both on the stave, and on their instrument, that they no longer need to take the step of processing what the actual note is. Instead, what they will often focus upon is what the shape of the phrase is, to help them decide what position to play that part in. That’s the processing part that Scott is talking about. When we start to learn to read, we’re encouraged to say the words out loud, and then as we move on, we stop saying it out loud and say it in our heads. What fails to get taught is the next step of no longer saying the words in our heads and just taking in the information. This is what helps speed up the process. Eliminating unnecessary steps, such as saying the notes in your head, will mean that your mind can focus on other things, such as what notes are coming up next, or what the dynamic or style is, and whether you’re making any mistakes.

A Brief Overview on a Music Producer Job Description

About Music Job

Primary job of music producer is listening to band materials and then pick the best out of it. In search of the best; the producer would normally have a look at both commercial as well as the album songs. A few rehearsals with them can dig out the best musical ideas. Next part of the job is arranging things to put in line and converting the selected ones into records.

Tracks are Instruments

Job of the music producer is cut out in listening to and selecting the right track. For them each track is an instrument. Separate tracks are often used for vocal, guitar, drums, and others. After selecting the best in each, the next step obviously is their judicious mixing. Stereo mix is created by volume adjustment of each track individually and mixing them.

Academic Background

It is not absolutely necessary for a music producer to have formal music training though it can help build ideas more quickly. Numerous universities have been imparting training in music and some of them are even providing online degrees though they are more an exception than regularities. Some formal lessons in the classes could help build up the musical background as well as the intensities of understanding in the person concerned. At the same time having degrees and certifications would enhance the chances of getting better salaries considerably.

Recording Bands

For many renowned music producers, recording bands have been the first step towards becoming a seasoned musician in future. In course of such band recording the intending producer can use any instrument they like depending on the environment and people around.

Music Fans Are More Suitable

When it comes to the music producer job description, an important aspect is love for music in the intending producer. Such people would be able to listen to all types of music including rock, pop, and hip-hop. Listening to the music and songs that did not make it at the box office could be very good way of finding out the reasons for their failure.

How to Download Music to Your Ipod or PSP

The process of transferring music to your favorite portal device can be frustrating. Let’s face it, whether it’s the famous Ipod or even the widely popular PlayStation Portable (PSP), there are restrictions that need to be understood, and steps that need to be followed properly to transfer songs on to either music platform.

So how do I download music to my Ipod?

Downloading music from your hard-drive to you Ipod is done with the program called Itunes. This program comes with your Ipod purchase or can be downloaded at http://www.apple.com. The software is vital because it not only allows you to purchase from the popular Itunes music service, it’s also the only way you can transfer songs onto your Ipod.

So let’s look into the Itunes software, and more specifically, the Itunes library that is used to transfer songs from your hard-drive to your Ipod. You’ll find it on the left hand panel of the program. Your library contains all your songs, movies, and podcast that you want to transfer over. Through the Itunes library, you’ll be able to use their drag-and-drop feature for easy and fast transfer to your Ipod.

Before we move one to the next step, it should be made clear that songs that are downloaded from P2P clients might not show up on the Itunes library. You must add them manually, because you will not be able to transfer any songs until they are integrated into your Itunes library. Doing this is simple. Click on file>add file to library, locate the file you want to add, and press enter to complete the process. There is also the ‘add folder to library’ function which allows you to transfer a whole folder of songs into the Itunes library. This is quite handy to have if most of your songs are stored in one place on your hard drive.

Alright, let’s get back on track here. You know the proper steps in which to keep your Itunes library updated now, and the last step is a breeze. Plug in your Ipod to the USB port in your computer, and you’ll notice the new option to add songs from your Itunes library to the Ipod. Click and drag your files into the Ipod transfer screen and then you’re done! You’re now ready to explore the wonderful world of music without the burden of a large cumbersome computer to haul alongside you!

Downloading music to your PSP

The common misconception about the PSP is that it’s just to play old PlayStation games. It’s not. More and more it’s being used as a great alternative to an MP3 player, and the quality is just as good. There are however some drawback in the PSP that can make downloading music to your player extremely frustrating.

Lets get down to the drawbacks first, and what you need to know to start downloading files onto your PSP. The first is that some file extensions will not work. For example, every song downloaded from the Itunes music service will not work on the PSP because the .m4a extension, which is associated with Itunes, is not compatible with the PSP. Furthermore, if you’re a user of another popular music service such as napster, you’ll find that music downloaded from their service has restrictions placed on their files that will also not work with your PSP.

There are a few options to work around that. The first way to get around this problem is with the use of an audio conversion program. This software will convert a format such as the .m4a extension to an extension that is compatible with your PSP like the .MP3 format.

Currently, the only extensions that work with the PSP are the MP3, AAC, and WMA formats. Before you proceed on, make sure that your files end in the proper extensions!

The next step is to make sure your memory stick, which is where your songs will be stored, is formatted properly. It’s a fairly simple process. Turn on your PSP, go to system settings, and then format your memory stick. A music folder should automatically appear that will be used to place your music in.

Learn to Read Piano Music

Learning a chord-based approach to playing the piano might have you rockin’ and rollin’ in not time, but many people want to know and understand what they are playing by learning how to read piano music. This could take time, a few months or even years, but those who learn to read piano music don’t have to hear a song before they play it. They simply look over the piece of sheet music and are able to ‘hear’ the score before them. Understanding the notes is like being able to read another language.

The first steps to learning how to read piano or keyboard sheet music involve learning the notes and clefs that a piece of music is composed of. This will let you know whether you need to play in a treble clef, or high tone, or if the piece is written for deeper or lower tones, called a bass clef. Next, you must be able to designate which notes are what, where they are located, and why they are there.

Notes are broken down and depicted individually on what is called a stave, the five parallel lines music is written on. Depending on where the note is on the stave, on the lines or in the spaces, this will formulate how a song should be played. Different parts of the musical score will detail each section’s notes all at once to help the conductor lead an entire symphony.

The next step to reading piano sheet music is a bit more complicated. The time signature is another important feature to focus on because it tells you at what pace the song should be played. These are often made up of vertical bar lines, which indicate when and where a song begins and stops. On this time signature there are numbers that indicate how many beats exist per measure. You’ll learn to recognize the time signature, what it means, and how it controls the rhythm of a song as you continue learning how to read piano music.

The final step to understanding a piano score involves understanding the next type of signature. This is called the key signature. The key signature tells you in what key the piece should be played. This can vary from sharp, to flat, to natural. Sharp keys are the black keys found just above the white keys on a piano or keyboard. The notations on the key signature indicate what part or parts of a song need to be emphasized or not. By learning to read piano music, you will not only be able to understand the piece before you, but you will also gain a deeper appreciation for the music.