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Discussion Starter #1
Hi,
my teacher gave me the advice to name every note in my head while playing from the sheet.
Does any of you do this? Is it really helping? Her argument was, that there is no direct connection from the sheet music to your fingers? What do you think?
 

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I disagree, when I see the note I think the fingering first then what it's called.
 

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It all depends on how you think. In theory you could correlate a note on the staff to the note name, then to it's fingering, such as A is the first 2 fingers in the left hand. And then when you see an note on the staff you can say to yourself "that's A" and your brain can connect that to your fingers. In the end you still need to know where a note lies on the staff and the fingering, however you accomplish it is up to you.
 

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Naming the notes in my head helps me to memorize the music to play without the sheet.
Although you can develop a straight connection from sheet to fingers, including the note name (and the sound you hear when you play) might give you more flexibility to play by ear, play from memory, etc.
 

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Gosh...it's been so long since I was learning to read music (40+ years) that I don't even remember the thought processes involved. I don't remember ever being taught to name the notes in my head while playing though. I know I learned to name the notes on the page before I learned how to finger them on the instrument, but it wasn't long after learning the fingerings that there WAS a direct connection for me from the sheet music to my fingers without having to consciously name the notes in my head. Reading music for me is as second nature as reading English. When I see notes on a page the fingerings are instantaneous, so for me, there IS a direct connection from the music to my fingers. There's no need to name the notes in my head because the acknowledgment of both the note names and the fingerings are automatic. There's no thinking involved. How and when it reached that point I don't even remember. Your question might be better answered by someone who learned to read music more recently than I did...or by someone who teaches beginners on a regular basis.
 

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Not just naming the notes in your head, but being able to speak the note names in rhythm is an important step in building your ability to sight read music proficiently.
 

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I dont read that often...and so I am not great at it. But when I do, knowing the note name is essential to memorizing the music.
 

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With some beginners being able to see, name, and finger is essential for learning.
I have had students that I had 'finger and name' through an easy piece before they ever played a note.
Those were the ones who attempted to play everything by ear and not learn to 'read'.
Band directors prefer that the kids in the program know how to do this.
After a few lessons of playing the name and finger game they have no trouble connecting the dot to the name to the fingering to the sound.

It makes teaching easier as well. I prefer to say 'go to measure 5 and start on the B' rather than 'go to measure 5 and start on the 3rd note'.
 

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I hope no educational psychologist sees this thread or we're doomed. :twisted:

Grüße, iwivera! My take on this is that we don't all learn the same way so there is no one way to learn to memorise music. But as for me, I learned by looking at a book with a C major scale and the chromatic scale and that had all the note names on it. So I learned them. Then I learned how to play them all. First the note names and the reading, then the fingerings.

I did not choose whether I could first play but not write, or write but not play, that's just the order in which I learned - e.g. the note names first, the fingerings second.

Now that I think of it, I'm sure that in the beginning, I must have thought of the note names first as I played, because I probably would have looked at a note in, say, the second space and, when desperately trying to guess which fingering to use, would have first had to identify what the name of that note was. So I would first had to tell myself, "that's an F". Then I'd go: "that's an F and I have to push the first valve down".

So iwivera, I probably learned very much like your teacher is suggesting.
 

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Do you name all the letters in each word you read? No, but then again, most of us are fluent readers by the time we're in third grade. You start out with the ABC's, then learn words, then read paragraphs, then books.

Yeah, saying the note letter name in your head is good for beginners.
 

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And naming notes helps if you're going to go on and look at chords.

I found when I was learning clarinet at school, once I was past the basic stage, I looked at the dot and played the right note. If someone asked me to play, say a G, I was a bit lost and had to think about it. The note name was like using a different part of my brain. Since I learnt to keyboards using guitar chords & melody I got to use the note letters names more and that has helped playing the sax where we need to know chord components to improvise.
 

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I go straight from the sheet music to my fingers. Instant and automatic, and has been for a long time. Sight reading is easy for me. On the other hand, playing by ear or memory is hard, because I am so keyed into the eye-finger connection that the ear-finger or head-finger is slower.

So while I think she is wrong about there being no eye-finger connection, it seems like a good (and harmless) idea to name each note.
 

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I go straight from the sheet music to my fingers. Instant and automatic, and has been for a long time. Sight reading is easy for me. On the other hand, playing by ear or memory is hard, because I am so keyed into the eye-finger connection that the ear-finger or head-finger is slower.

So while I think she is wrong about there being no eye-finger connection, it seems like a good (and harmless) idea to name each note.
Sigh. It used to be eye-finger on most instruments, but as I grew older (approaching 69), I have trouble doing so with hard-to-read sheet music (bad copies, small marching sheets, ...) and I find myself spelling out the notes. It is not bad eyesight, and I have just gotten updated spectacles.

My point is: Learning to name the notes can come in handy - sooner than you think.
 

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Do you name all the letters in each word you read? No, but then again, most of us are fluent readers by the time we're in third grade. You start out with the ABC's, then learn words, then read paragraphs, then books.

Yeah, saying the note letter name in your head is good for beginners.
+100

Good readers are playing a few bars behind of what their reading.

Rhythms are the difficult part IMO. Learn to see those as phrases and the notes come easy. Pick up a snare drum pattern book like Modern Reading Text in 4/4.

Just "ta" the patterns out. You'll be amazed at how fast your reading will improve.

Or
 

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+100

Good readers are playing a few bars behind of what their reading.

Rhythms are the difficult part IMO. Learn to see those as phrases and the notes come easy.
I was going to mention the "reading ahead" thing because it pretty much negates being able to (or needing to) name the notes in your head while you're playing, but I figured the OP probably hadn't reached the stage where they were able to read that far ahead of what they were playing. As you suggested, when I'm reading a few bars ahead of what I'm playing it's all about the rhythms. Much like hakukani said about reading words instead of individual letters, I try to look at the rhythms within an entire bar as a single rhythmic pattern or phrase rather than trying to decipher individual note values. In order to do that you have to have seen and be familiar with as many rhythmic patterns as possible.

The suggestion to study from a drum pattern book is excellent, but this is also the reason that a daily routine of sight reading new things from pretty any source is invaluable. When you practice sight reading, the main thing you're doing is learning to identify rhythmic patterns that you've seen before, as well as learning new rhythmic patterns on a regular basis so you'll know those when you see them again as well. By the time you've learned to read several bars ahead it's no longer about the notes, because as Turnaround said, the notes will be coming easily at that point.

If you're still having to think about note names you won't be able to read very far ahead of what you're playing. For that reason, I'm inclined to say that making a habit of naming the notes in your head while you're playing would be somewhat counterproductive. Do it if you have to as a beginner, but know that it will be a habit you'll have to break before you can progress as a fluent reader. Since habits are always hard to break, I'm finding the idea of starting that particular habit less and less appealing.
 

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Here's the thing - the name, the symbol and the sound have to become unconscious. Whatever method you use to get there, that's the goal. Knowing the name of the thing is important, there have been several reasons given here.

As an example - if you look at an apple, or a picture of an apple, do you have to think of the name of it, or do you "just know" that it is an apple? You need to get to the same level of familiarity with the notes on the page.

Rhythms are another matter, and the drum book suggestion is good, but I think it's better at first to just get familiar with everything: what "A" is, what an eighth note looks like, how to count it, etc. It will take time :)
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thank you all for your comments.
I am able to name the notes. But so far I dont do it while playing.
I guess I'll just try and see, if it helps me or not. At least with difficult phrases. Though in the past three years i didnt name the notes while playing. I wonder, why my teacher came up with it now. Could be, because recently she gave me sheet music with d3 and higher and I failed a little bit playing it right from the sheet. I guess I just need to practice the higher notes more.
Long time ago I had to learn how to typewrite. Of course I am not thinking every letter of every word I am typing right now.
To improve my sight reading, I should probably read a lot. Do you have any suggestions on books with small exercises, patterns e. g., preferably over the whole tone register, that could be part of my daily routine?
 

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I would only recommend something like this for those first starting to learn music. From my perspective, the written music should flow directly from your sight to the sound coming out the bell of your sax. There should be no thought of anything that comes between. And it's practice and repetition that gets you to that point.
 

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Can't add anything here. Great to begin with but it doesn't take long for the connection between the notes the eyes see and the notes fingered on the horn become automatic.

Think of typing. You begin by spelling out the words and hitting each corresponding key. Keep at it and after a while you think the word and your fingers spell it out on the keyboard without you doing it in your head! The speed of your typing goes from 35 words per minute to 85 words per minute.
 

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Think of typing. You begin by spelling out the words and hitting each corresponding key. Keep at it and after a while you think the word and your fingers spell it out on the keyboard without you doing it in your head! The speed of your typing goes from 35 words per minute to 85 words per minute.
Hm, 85 bpm is really slow.
 
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