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Planning Retirement Online

Out of the box - Learn to read sheet music                  February 2011 

This is our regular OUT OF THE BOX feature where we give suggestions on different things to try.      

If you have tried something unusual or different, tell us all about it - and send in a photograph as well if you can – so that we can share your experiences with others.



This month we look at …… Learning to read sheet music

sheet musicMusic plays an important part in all our lives and sometimes it is fun to do more than just listen. But if we ever dream of taking up an instrument, or of having singing lessons, then being able to read music is of enormous benefit.

Many more mature people start to learn a musical instrument in later life without bothering about sheet music. You can play the guitar using the tab system; you can learn the piano using visual key guidance from online piano lessons; today there are numerous ways to become reasonably competent on an instrument without actually reading music.

But making the effort to read music can add enormously to your understanding of all musical genres and can make music much more fun and enjoyable.

Experts say it is never too late to learn how to read music and there are special programmes available for mature learners. Lessons on reading music usually start with the very basics of counting the beat of music and learning all about notes and scales. You will also begin to learn what is almost a new language – the language of music. Knowing what a clef or a stave is can contribute towards a completely new level of understanding in music. Learning to read music is also great for the memory and exercising your brain as you will learn phrases such as Every Good Boy Does Fine to denote the EGBDF lines in a treble stave.

You will also learn a range of terminology such as adagio for a tempo with a slow, restful movement; or allegro, which requires a lively and fast beat. Knowing what these words mean can help predict the style of certain music; many classical pieces have clues in their titles once you know the language of music!

 One you have mastered the basics, you will need some sort of instrument to help you to progress but this can be as simple as a recorder to start with. Whatever the instrument, the notes on the staves remain the same so your knowledge is translatable across many musical fields. Buying a cheap electronic keyboard is a good way to get going as you can then get used to both the treble and base clef (one for each hand!) and of course, as with so many things, practice makes all the difference.

Good musicians can put up a piece of music in front of them and then play it effortlessly; as naturally as driving comes to many of us, something we can do without concentrating on every move.

But you don’t ever need to reach those dizzy heights. Just having a basic understanding and familiarity with sheet music can transform your appreciation of music and add considerable enjoyment to your life.



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