How To Find The Key Of A Piece Of Music Learning to Play Pieces Using the Treble Clef

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Learning to Play Pieces Using the Treble Clef

When you play an instrument you learn to read and play notes using the treble clef as in the flute, violin, clarinet, trumpet or bass clef as in the bassoon, double bass or both as in the piano. This article is about learning to play pieces using the treble clef.

When you learn an instrument you learn:

1. musical notation

2. reading the notes and rests

3. how to play the notes on the chosen instrument

The following consists of those topics in more detail

1. Basic Notation

Treble Clef: This is the sign at the beginning of each line of the piece of music.

Stave: This is the five horizontal lines which the music is written on.

Barlines: These are the vertical lines seen on the stave.

Double Barline: This consists of two vertical lines to signify the end of a piece.

Bar: This is the piece of music between two barlines.

Time Signature: This consists of the two numbers, one underneath the other, found after the clef sign eg treble clef telling you how many beats there are in a bar.

Key Signature: This is a ‘signature’ of flats or sharps or nothing, found between the clef sign and time signature, telling you what key the piece of music is in. There are 12 major and 12 minor keys. Each major key has a minor key with the same key signature eg a piece with one sharp as the key signature can be in G major or D minor. You learn to remember what the key name is.

2. Reading The Notes On The Page

A note is the sign to tell you what sound to play and how long to play it. They are oval shaped with or without tail(s).

The Sound

There are line notes and space notes. Line notes are formed such that the line falls in the middle of the note. Space notes are placed between two lines such that they are touching the lines.

When you learn to read and play the notes there is a lot of repetition starting with rows of one note and then two notes and then three and more notes. The repetition helps you remember the position of the notes on the stave, the note lengths and the quality of note on the chosen instrument (if it is not the piano).

To help remember the notes you can use the following as a guide:

Space Notes: The four space notes from the bottom up spell the word F A C E

Line Notes: You form a sentence and use the first letter of each word to give you the note names from the lowest line note upwards. A common example of a sentence is “Every Good Boy Deserves Fruit” for the notes E G B D F

The Note Length:

Notes are held on for different lengths. When you first learn an instrument you start off with the 1, 2, 4 count or beat note, then the 3 and 1/2 count note followed by more dotted shorter count notes.

The following is a basic list of the note names and note time lengths in order of the time length. I am calling count and beat the same thing.

quaver: 1/2 beat

crotchet: 1 beat

dotted crotchet: 1 1/2 beats

minim: 2 beats

dotted minim: 3 beats

semibreve: 4 beats

Reading The Rests On The Page:

In music there are times you do not play and this is indicated by rest signs. There are rest lengths equivalent to the note lengths and they are written on a particular place on the stave depending on what the time length is. They each look different and you learn and remember them from repetition.

3. How To Play The Notes On The Chosen Instrument:

You will need to follow the guidance of a tutor book yourself, a teacher, or the internet.

You will play exercises and pieces, step by step, to help you master basic notation, reading the notes and rests and mastering the sound for the chosen instrument. E.G. to play B A G pieces ie pieces using the notes B A G you will play:

~ rows of B, rows of A, rows of G

~ rows of two notes eg BA BA BA BA; AG AG AG AG; etc

~ variations of the three notes

You can play notes without music (for sound), with music (learning treble clef reading) and with varying time lengths without and with music.

There is a lot to learn and it is better to play SLOWLY for accuracy when first learning a piece. The appropriate speed will follow.

The main ingredient for playing pieces using the treble clef are the three P’s: Play Play Play

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