How to Simplify a Song on Piano
How to Simplify Sheet Music
If you haven't been reading sheet music forever, or if you are new to reading music, it can be a little intimidating to look at all those dots and just begin to play. So it can be useful to know how to simplify sheet music - at least whilst you are first starting to learn something. It can also be useful to know a few tips for sight-reading and learning how to put all your skills in context at once.
Get to know how to read and follow sheet music by picking a piece that you already know.Try something popular that you have known for a while, such as the opening for Fur Elise.
- Play the piece with the music and watch the progressions - see how they fit together.
- Circle the sections that you think you know well enough to begin playing/ putting into practice and highlight in a different colour the sections you think you will really need to focus on.
- Listen to the music on it's own and try to picture the sheet music in your head.
Annotate your sheet music.After you have listened to the piece and are confident in how the piece sounds altogether, make sure that you label finger patterns for particularly tricky passages.
- This means looking at things you have figured out how to play a certain way and making a note of it.
- You may have your own method, but the typical taught process is that the thumb on either hand is 1 and the little finger is 5. If you label up this information on your sheet music, then you won't forget it when you are practicing again a few days later (though muscle memory will eventually set in and remember this for you the more you practice)
- Don't feel you need to label everything - just label up the information that you think it is most important to have a note of.
Begin with simple pieces and work your way up.If you are a beginner in your instrument (this article is written with piano in mind), pick out something which is a little simpler than that which you eventually wish to play. You'll work your way up as you perfect your technique.
- If you go to your local music shop or look online, there are bound to be lots of collections of short songs or pieces with information included to help you get to grips with the basics.
- If you work your way up from the foundation, then you will have a strong sight reading skill level and this is incredibly important if you want to go on to study your instrument professionally, particularly in the classical industry.
Label chords.This can be the most useful way to simplify sheet music for instruments such as guitar and piano, even other instruments at times (e.g. a long flute arpeggio - it can be useful to just know the key and to bear this in mind instead of trying to learn each of the notes individually)
- This will also be useful for your level of analysis. Use a keyboard and a chord chart which you can write out yourself, in order to pick out each of the chords
- As you previously would have linked your technical notes with the sheet music, now write underneath the passages you feel are most important the chordal progressions.
- This is an easy and quick way to simplify your piece and learn the basics of it before working on to take the piece to the next best level.
Remember that practice makes perfect!This information will be a lot to absorb and some of it works better for others than it may do for you. A lot of the approach in music is about you and finding out what works best for you in your practice. Only time will reveal that.
- Work hard - if you put thought and dedication into your work, you will provide yourself the motivation to succeed and will soon find the results you seek.
- Record your efforts so that you can see how you are progressing. No progress is evident straight away and the process is never really obvious to you in the moment if you are the one practicing.
- There will be good days and bad days. Some days, like with sport, you will not be able to remember things as well as you would another. Pace your practice with the music so that you can come back to it and not feel afraid or angry - these two things kill focus and motivation.
- Keep at it - it is all about repetition and practice. Make sure you do the recommended portion of practice on your instrument every day (lots of this information is online, but for a none body based instrument, anything apart from vocals, they recommend 4 - 6 hours a day professional/ student practice)
- Practice your sight reading skills beyond this piece you want to simplify. If you do a bit of sight reading of a new piece you have never heard every day, you will start to apply these skills by second nature and will not really need to focus in on anything else than on the music.
- For sight reading, just remember to look at the key signature, the time signature etc to see where the pulse lies. If you go from there, and work slowly through the piece, it will start to come together in a more efficient manner.
- Don't feel too disheartened if this advice doesn't work straight-away. It is a gradual process that takes professionals years to master and varies in difficulty levels depending on the instrument you are playing.
Video: How to Simplify Musical Notation
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