staff

 
When I was a kid, I loved buying expensive pads of manuscript paper. Trouble was, I didn’t quite know what to do with them!

Now, thirty-something years on, I’m always reaching for some manuscript paper to demonstrate to my students, scribble down an idea or to give to my pupils so that they can transcribe their latest creation. [···]

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5 Music Theory Tips DiagramPrelude – For this month’s blog, I thought I might share five notation tips that you probably won’t find in the average theory textbook but nonetheless are important rules in music writing. Just before we get started, it’s important for you to remember that in music notation, the standard measurement of distance is worked out in stave (staff) spaces. In the music publishing industry, stave (staff) heights can range anywhere from 9.2 millimetres for educational music to 3.7 millimetres for a full orchestral score. Generally, for normal instrumental parts, a size of between 6.5 and 7 millimetres is commonly used. (All 5 tips are illustrated in the diagram which you can click to enlarge).

  1. How long should a stem be? – Normally, the length of a note’s stem in music notation should be three and a half spaces. An easier way to work out stem length though, is that wherever the pitch position of the note-head on the stave (staff), the stem needs to go up or down an octave. When the note-head is positioned with two ledger (leger) lines or more, the stem always extends to the middle line of the stave (staff).
  2. Where should a clef be positioned? – The clef must always be indented to the right by one stave (staff) space. It’s vertical position must also be precise to render the intended pitches of the notes that follow.
  3. Which side of the note-head does the stem go on? – Here’s a killer tip to help students remember that  [···]
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NoteWorks in Action!

Click to enlarge

Isn’t it frustrating watching a new student struggling to work out the pitch of the notes on their sheet music. Is it a C or an A? You can hear them muttering “every good boy…” under their breathe whilst their parent waits anxiously on the edge of their seat to see if they might finally “hear a tune.”

Or what about a more advanced student? Surely by now they should be able to recognise that note on the ledger lines? Why can’t they remember to play a G sharp when playing in the key of A major? If only they would play that note in the correct octave?

Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve tried everything under the sun over the years to try and help my pupils quickly recognise pitch; flash cards, all manner of computer software and other miscellaneous methods in an effort to help them become better music readers. After all, faster pitch recognition equals more fluent sight reading. New pieces then get learnt quicker and everybody, pupil, parent and music teacher are much happier!

 

This could be it!

And then the light bulb moment! One of my students introduced me to  [···]

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