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A1. Lesson 1

Actualizado: 4 ago 2023

Welcome to the first practical lesson of the online piano and music theory course.


We will start this lesson with a piece to play on the piano. To do this, I suggest you watch the video below, with which you can learn to execute the work proposed by imitation.

Exercise 1: Playing

You can watch the video as many times as you need until you learn the piece. Pay attention to the keys that are played, the fingering used and the rhythm as shown in the video. The work has three notes and a uniform rhythm. Perform the work with fingers 1 (thumb), 2 (index), and 3 (middle) of the right and left hands separately. Repeat the exercise with separate hands as many times as necessary until you achieve a correct execution, paying attention to the corresponding notes, fingering, and rhythm. Then perform the work together with the video until the notes, fingering, and rhythm are adjusted to the proposed model. Subsequently, I propose to make video recordings of your performance with separate hands with the help of the audio track. If you find an error in the recording, repeat the exercise until you reach the proposed goal.


Exercise 2: Singing

Next, I propose you play the piece with separate hands and simultaneously sing the melody with the name of the notes. This exercise will allow you to learn the location of the notes on the keyboard and the relative pitch of the notes.

To locate the notes on the keyboard, we will take the layout of the black keys as a reference, as shown in the following diagram:

If necessary, you can separately address the enunciation and intonation of the notes before integrating the execution. You can do this exercise first without rhythm, adjusting the intonation to the pitch of the played note, and then on the video. Finally, record audio to evaluate the achievement of the proposed goal.


Exercise 3: Location of the notes and octaves on the keyboard

I propose, then, to play and name all the notes on the keyboard in ascending, descending, and random order, using the international pitch notation (considering the lowest A of the 88-key keyboard as A0 and the highest C as C8) as shown in the following diagram:

Exercise 4: Location of the notes on the staff

The notes are written on the staff. The staff is a set of 5 horizontal lines that are read from bottom to top, as follows:

To write the notes, ovals are used that are located successively on the lines and spaces of the staff. When the staff ends, you can continue to write notes using ledger spaces and lines. The following graphic shows the location of the notes in successive order from the second ledger space below to the first ledger space above the staff:

I propose you copy the preceding graphic on the staff and indicate the position of each note on it.


Exercise 5: Location of the notes in treble clef

To determine the location of the notes on the staff, we use the clefs. Clefs place a specific note at a specific position on the staff, from which the position of the other notes is established. In this lesson, we will cover the placement of the notes in the treble clef. This clef establishes the location of the G note on the second line of the staff. This note corresponds to the middle G (or G4). From this note, the position of the notes C, D, and E in the treble clef is fixed in the first ledger line below, in the first ledger space below, and in the first line, respectively.

I propose you add the treble clef at the beginning of the scheme written in exercise 4 and indicate the corresponding notes and octaves using the international pitch notation.


Exercise 6: Pulse

When listening to or playing music, we can perceive and organize the rhythm through its pulse. The pulse is a regular and constant unit of time. To specify the speed of the pulse, we use the metronome. The metronome is a mechanical or digital device that divides a minute at the indicated value. To train the identification and regularity of the pulse, I suggest you mark it with the help of the metronome at different speeds. Then I invite you to do this same exercise with music. You can do it, for example, on the video proposed at the beginning of this lesson or with any other recording.


Exercise 7: Rhythmic writing

In the musical notation system, rhythm is written by indicating the relative duration of sounds using note values. The note values that we will use in this level are whole, half, and quarter notes. These values have a proportional duration of whole (/1), half (/2), and quarter (/4) respectively. The whole note is written with an oval notehead. The half note with a notehead and a stem (which can be oriented up or down depending on its position on the staff), and the quarter note is written with a filled notehead and a stem.

Just as the note values indicate the proportional duration of the sounds, the rests indicate the cessation of the sound. The whole rest is dashed under a line, the half rest is dashed over a line, and the quarter rest is identified by its shape.

Measures are used to organize rhythmic material. The measures divide this material into equal parts. The time signatures that we will work on at this level are two, three, or four beats. To indicate the time signature, a fraction is written at the beginning of the staff after the clef. In this fraction, the numerator (2, 3, or 4) represents the number of times. The denominator indicates the note value that we use as a unit of time (/1 whole, /2 half, /4 quarter note). At this level, we will use the measures of 2/4, 3/4, and 4/4 (or C), that is, of 2, 3, or 4 quarter notes.

The measures also indicate accentuation. The first beat of each measure is accented. To exercise the recognition of the beats, I suggest you mark the pulse when listening to music and identify the frequency of the accents. Listen again to the video at the beginning of this lesson to check the frequency of the accents every two beats.

Bars are divided into vertical lines, called bar lines. For its part, a change of section is indicated with a double bar line. At the end of the work, the end bar line is used, which consists of a double bar line with different thicknesses. And to indicate a repetition, two vertical points are included in this bar.

While writing just the rhythm, we use one line, on which the percussion clef is written.

A full measure of rest is indicated using a whole note rest, regardless of the time signature.

I propose you write the rhythm of the piece at the beginning of this lesson. It is a uniform rhythm. That is, the note values have the same duration of one pulse each. To indicate this, write 8 bars in 2/4 using only quarter notes. To do this, write a percussion staff, the percussion key, the time signature, the note values, the bar lines, and the end bar line.


Exercise 8: Musical writing

Then I propose to write the piece learned at the beginning of this lesson. Take a staff sheet for it. Write a treble clef at the beginning of each of the staves. Following the first clef, write the time signature, which in this case is 2/4. Write the time indication, which includes the metronome and the character indications. The metronome indication establishes the speed of a reference note value. This indication is objective because it is measurable and feasible to accurately reproduce. In this piece, the metronome indication is a quarter note equal to 100. The character indication uses words to indicate not only the speed but the character and provides valuable information for interpretation. They can be written in Italian (with international recognition), or in your own language (with local recognition). This indication is subjective since it depends on the interpreter and tends to vary. In this work, the indication of character is moderato, which means moderate. This work has a four-bar introduction. To indicate this, write four bars of rest at the beginning. To do this, use whole rests, and do not forget to place the bar lines. Between the introduction and the main part of the work, there is a change of section. To indicate this, use a double bar line. Write the notes (E-D-C-C-E-D-C-C-C-C-D-D-E-D-C-C) using noteheads located in the corresponding positions on the staff. To indicate quarter note rhythm, fill in the noteheads and add the stems. To indicate the fingering, add the corresponding numbers above the notes (for the right hand) and below the notes (for the left hand). Finally, you can indicate the intensity. In this case, it is mezzoforte, which means moderately strong. To indicate this dynamic, the abbreviation mf is used. In the end, do not forget to place the end bar.


Exercise 9: Rhythmic reading

I propose you read the following rhythmic exercise with the metronome. You can beat the rhythm, sing it or play it on the piano on the same note (for instance C4).


To do it, I invite you to take the following video as a guide.

Repeat the exercise until you get a correct rhythm performance, adjusted to the metronome. Then make an audio recording using the metronome and listen to it to self-correct. If you find an error, repeat the exercise until you get a correct recording.


Exercise 10: Rhythmic sight-reading

After reaching the goal proposed in the previous exercise, I suggest you read the following rhythm at first sight.

The purpose of sight-reading exercises is to achieve fluency in resolving rhythmic, melodic, or piano-playing difficulties. Aiming at this, I propose as the goal of these exercises to achieve a correct and adjusted performance from the first reading. To do this, I recommend starting with the analysis of the elements that each exercise contains. This exercise consists of eight measures in 2/4 using quarter notes and half notes. To start reading, I suggest you adjust the metronome to a comfortable speed and mark the pulse on it, performing the exercise mentally until you can do it correctly. Once this mental reading has been achieved, I suggest you make an audio recording with your first reading of this exercise, whether it be drumming, singing, or playing on the piano with the help of the metronome. Finally, listen to the recording to self-correct yourself. If you find an error, repeat the exercise until you get a correct recording.


Exercise 11: Rhythmic Composition

Next, I propose you compose a rhythmic exercise of eight bars in 2/4 using quarter notes and half notes, taking the previous rhythmic exercises as a model. The rhythmic composition exercises will allow you to consolidate the musical elements worked on, they will provide you with additional material to train rhythmic reading at first sight, and they will prepare you to work on musical composition. After writing the exercise, make a recording of a rhythmic sight-reading of your composition and listen to it. If necessary, repeat the exercise until you obtain a correct recording.


Exercise 12: Rhythmic dictation

Next, I propose you write the rhythm in the following video from listening:

Listen to the exercise as many times as you want. If you need to, you can pause it, rewind it, or fast-forward it. To facilitate the recognition of the beat and the note values, the marking of the beat and the accents of the measure are included. In the beginning, a complete measure is heard with this marking. Write the time signature and the corresponding note values until you complete the exercise. Don't forget to include the bar lines and the end bar line. Once written, listen to the audio again to check. Then do a sight reading of the exercise.


Exercise 13: Rhythmic-melodic reading

You can train melodic reading in various modalities: spoken notes without rhythm, spoken notes with rhythm, intoned notes without rhythm and intoned notes with rhythm. The first modality points to the identification of written notes. The second modality implies a fluidity in this recognition that allows its integration with the rhythm. The third modality points to ear training. The fourth modality integrates identification, intonation, and rhythmic skills.

Next, I propose you exercise these four modalities of melodic reading with the following exercise:

To do it:

  1. Read the notes until you complete the exercise correctly.

  2. Adjust the metronome to a comfortable speed and read the exercise paying attention to the correct enunciation of the notes and the execution of the rhythm.

  3. Sing the exercise with the help of the piano paying attention to the correct enunciation and intonation of the notes. Then repeat the exercise without instrumental accompaniment until it is completed correctly.

  4. Read the exercise with the help of the following video paying attention to the correct enunciation and intonation of the notes as well as the execution of the rhythm. Then repeat the exercise without instrumental accompaniment with the help of the metronome. Finally, make an audio recording using the metronome and listen to the recording to correct yourself. If you find an error, repeat the exercise until you get a correct recording.


Exercise 14: Rhythmic-melodic sight-reading

The purpose of the melodic exercises consists of the development of the relative and/or absolute musical ear. The exercises at first sight also aim at fluency, which favors, among other aspects, the ability to identify and correct errors in performance, to learn and write works from listening, and to sing from sheet music at first sight. Aiming at this, I propose as the goal of these exercises to achieve an execution without errors and adjusted from the first reading of the following rhythmic-melodic exercise:

To do it, I propose to start with an analysis of its elements. Regarding its rhythmic aspect, this exercise consists of eight bars in 2/4 using quarter and half notes. Regarding its melodic aspect, it contains two notes (C and D). To start reading, I suggest you read the notes mentally first without rhythm and then with a regular pulse to smooth out possible difficulties in these aspects. Then I propose you carry out a preparatory exercise of random intonation between the following notes, corroborating with the help of the piano if necessary.

Finally, make an audio recording with your first reading of this exercise. If you find an error, repeat the exercise until you get a correct recording.


Exercise 15: Rhythmic-melodic Composition

Next, I propose you compose a rhythmic-melodic exercise of eight bars in 2/4 using quarter and half notes, and the notes C and D, taking the previous rhythmic-melodic exercises as a model. The rhythmic-melodic composition exercises will allow you to consolidate the musical elements worked on, they will provide you with additional material to train rhythmic-melodic reading at first sight, and they will prepare you to work on musical composition. After writing the exercise, make a recording of a rhythmic-melodic sight-reading of your composition and listen to it. If necessary, repeat the exercise until you obtain a correct recording.


Exercise 16: Rhythmic-melodic Dictation

Next, I propose you write the rhythm and melody in the following video from listening:

Listen to the exercise as many times as you want. If you need to, you can pause it, rewind it, or fast-forward it. To facilitate the recognition of rhythmic elements, the marking of the beat and the accents of the measure are included. In the beginning, a complete measure is heard with this marking. Regarding the melodic aspect, this exercise has two notes (C and D), which you can identify by their relative pitch. Write the time signature and the corresponding notes and values until you complete the exercise. Don't forget to include the bar lines and the end bar line. Once written, perform a first-sight reading without instrumental accompaniment to corroborate. Finally, sing on the audio.


Exercise 17: Musical analysis

Next, we will analyze the musical form of the works from this lesson. These are eight-bar binary sentences. They are called binary because they contain two parts, called antecedent and consequent, which consist of four bars each.

The antecedent usually has a suspensive ending. Being suspensive, this ending does not produce the feeling of rest, which invites us to continue. For its part, the consequent tends to have a conclusive ending, which produces a sensation of rest. Due to this, we perceive this resolution with a conclusive character that invites us to finish the work. To achieve this, we can use various strategies. We observe in this example two of the most common and effective:

  1. Both in the suspensive ending of the antecedent and in the conclusive ending of the consequent, it is possible to find a stop given by the use of a relatively long value, in this case, a half note. This delimits the morphological units of the antecedent and consequent.

  2. In this example, by using only notes in white keys, we are in the key of C Major. In this key, note C, called tonic, generates the sensation of rest. When this note is found in the melody, it gives it a conclusive character. The use of a note other than C, as it does not produce a sensation of rest, leads to the feeling of suspension at the end. For this reason, a note other than C is used in the suspensive ending, while the conclusive ending finishes on the tonic.

In a musical sentence, the antecedent is built by the repetition of a motif, generally of two bars. The motifs are rhythmic-melodic patterns, which constitute the minimum morphological unit from which the musical form is derived. To identify the motifs and their correspondences we will use letters. As can be seen, the antecedent of this sentence corresponds to the pattern of repetition of a motif:

Next, I propose you carry out a morphological analysis of the repertoire proposed at the beginning of this lesson, identifying the parts (antecedent and consequent), the types of endings, and the motifs. You can correct your analysis by going to the guide at the end of this post.


Exercise 18: Musical composition

The musical analysis allows us to synthesize the musical elements present in the works and extract resources that we can apply to the composition. Based on what was worked on in the previous exercise, I invite you to compose an 8-bar binary sentence, using the works from this lesson as a model. To do this, I recommend using the rhythmic and melodic elements that have been exercised: that is, time signature 2/4, using half and quarter notes, and the notes C, D, and E. You can do it on paper or in music writing software. On a blank staff, write the treble clef and time signature. Then compose a two-bar motif choosing the notes and values you want. Then repeat this motive to conclude the antecedent. Finally, compose the consequent with a new material composed of other notes and values that you want. Keep in mind that for the ending to be conclusive, it is recommended that the final note is C. It is also advisable that you make a stop at this point. For this reason, I recommend that in the eighth bar, you use the C note in a whole bar note value, such as a half note in 2/4. Finally, play the composed work, make an audio recording, and self-correct your performance.


Exercise 19: Improvisation

In improvisation, the process of musical composition does not go through a notation instance but develops spontaneously together with the performance. To train the elements worked on in this lesson in improvisation, I propose you improvise a binary sentence of 8 measures, taking as a model, the works from this lesson. To facilitate this task, I provide an 8-bar exercise in 2/4, where the first four bars (which correspond to the antecedent) are empty, and the following bars contain a proposed consequent.

I propose you mentally compose a 2-bar motif using the elements worked on in this lesson. State the notes and values of your motive but do not write it down. The exercise consists of recording the improvisation of the binary sentence with the help of the metronome, building the missing antecedent from the repetition of the predefined motif, and executing the consequent as it is written. Then listen to the recording to self-correct and, if necessary, repeat the exercise with the same motif until you get a correct execution. I also invite you to continue improvising binary phrases using new motifs with the consequent proposed.


Exercise 20: Execution at first sight

Finally, I suggest you play the following work at first sight on the piano.

To do it, I recommend starting with a musical analysis, indicating the rhythmic, melodic, and morphological elements it exhibits. Then I propose to perform a mental execution with the help of the metronome. If you consider it necessary, you can address the rhythmic, melodic, and fingering elements separately in this mental preparation. Once prepared, I recommend making two video recordings of this exercise (one with the right hand and one with the left hand). The goal is to perform a correct and accurate execution from the first reading. If necessary, repeat the exercise. Finally, I invite you to compose and play new sight reading exercises using the elements worked on in this lesson.


Guidelines for self-correction:

Exercise 1

Analyze the recordings taking into account the following guidelines:

  1. Correct execution of the notes.

  2. Rhythmic precision.

  3. Proper use of fingering

Exercise 2

Analyze the recording taking into account the following guidelines:

  1. Correct execution of notes and rhythmic adjustment.

  2. Proper enunciation of the notes.

  3. Accuracy in intonation.

Exercise 3

In the execution of the notes on the keyboard in an ascending, descending, and random way, check:

  1. Correct enunciation of the notes.

  2. Correct enunciation of the octaves.

Exercise 4

Compare the written scheme with the following graph:

Pay attention to the correct location of the ovals on the lines or spaces, avoiding ambiguities, and to the correct indication of their location on the staff.

Abbreviations:

L: line

S: space

l: ledger

b: below

a: above


Exercise 5

Compare the written scheme with the following graph

Pay attention to the correct location of the ovals in the lines or spaces of the staff, avoiding ambiguities, and to the correct indication of the notes and octaves.


Exercise 6

By marking the pulse, check its execution at different speeds with precision in the synchronous adjustment with the metronome.


Exercise 7

Compare the written rhythm with the following graph

Pay attention to the correct writing of the clef, the time signature, the note values, the bar lines, and the end bar line.


Exercise 8

Compare the written exercise with the following graph.

Pay attention to the indications of clefs, measure, metronome, character, notes, values, rests, fingering, intensity, and bar lines.


Exercise 9

Analyze the recording of the rhythmic reading taking into account the following guidelines:

  1. Correct execution of the rhythm (whether drumming, singing, or on the piano).

  2. Precision in synchronous adjustment with the metronome.

Exercise 10

Analyze the recording of the rhythmic sight-reading taking into account the following guidelines:

  1. Correct execution of the rhythm (whether drumming, singing, or on the piano).

  2. Precision in synchronous adjustment with the metronome.

  3. Correct execution from the first attempt.

In case of not achieving the proposed goal in the first reading, compose new exercises to train the rhythmic reading at first sight until reaching it.


Exercise 11

Check in the exercise you composed:

  1. The correct writing of the key, the time signature, the values, and the bar lines.

  2. Following the guides: eight bars in 2/4 using either two quarter-notes or one half-note in each bar.

Analyze the sight-reading recording of your rhythmic composition, following the guidelines proposed in exercise 10.


Exercise 12

Compare the rhythm written to dictation with the following graph

In case you find an error, you can continue exercising rhythmic dictation with the elements worked on in this lesson using the audios of your readings, your sight readings, and your own compositions.


Exercise 13

Analyze the recording of the rhythmic-melodic reading taking into account the following guidelines:

  1. Correct execution of the rhythm and precision in the synchronous adjustment with the metronome.

  2. Correct enunciation of the notes.

  3. Correct intonation of notes. To do this, listen to the recording playing simultaneously on the piano to self-correct yourself.

Exercise 14

Analyze the recording of the rhythmic-melodic reading at first sight taking into account the following guidelines:

Correct execution of the rhythm and precision in the synchronous adjustment with the metronome.

Correct enunciation of the notes.

Correct intonation of notes. To do this, listen to the recording playing simultaneously on the piano to self-correct yourself.

Correct execution from the first attempt.

In case of not achieving the proposed goal, compose new exercises to train rhythmic-melodic reading at first sight until reaching it.


Exercise 15

Check in the exercise you composed:

  1. The correct writing of the key, the time signature, the values, and the bar lines.

  2. Following the guides: eight bars in 2/4 time using quarter notes and half notes and the notes C and D.

Analyze the recording of the reading at first sight of your rhythmic-melodic composition, following the guidelines proposed in exercise 14.


Exercise 16

Compare the melody written to dictation with the following graph

In case you find an error, you can continue exercising rhythmic-melodic dictation with the elements worked on in this lesson using the audios of your readings, your sight readings, and your own compositions.


Exercise 17

Compare your analysis with the following graph and explanation

The work is in C Major and consists of a binary sentence. It contains two parts. The first one (antecedent) consists of a two-bar motif that is repeated immediately. The second part (consequent) is made up of new material. The work has a conclusive ending, produced through the strategy of resolution in the tonic.


Exercise 18

Analyze the composition taking into account the following guidelines:

  1. The work has eight bars.

  2. Its antecedent is made up of the repetition of a two-measure motif

  3. Its consequent concludes on the tonic (C).

Then analyze the audio of the execution of your composition following the self-correction guides of exercise 1


Exercise 19

Analyze the recording of the improvisation taking into account the following guidelines:

  1. The motif executed corresponds to the stated rhythmic-melodic pattern.

  2. The repetition of the motif is exact.

  3. The consequent corresponds to the proposed model

  4. The overall execution is rhythmically and melodically accurate.


Exercise 20

Analyze recordings of sight-reading to self-correct. To do this, keep in mind:

  1. Correct execution of the notes.

  2. Precision and rhythmic adjustment with the metronome.

  3. Proper use of fingers

  4. Correct execution from the first attempt.

In case of not achieving the proposed goal, compose new exercises to train the execution at first sight until reaching it.

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