LFP 079 | Learn to Read Music Without the ABC’s Above the Staff Line

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LFP 079 | Learn to Read Music Without the ABC's Above the Staff Line

Learn Flute Podcast SHOW NOTES:

In this episode, you will learn how to read music without writing the ABCs on the staff line for every note.

This is the Learn Flute Podcast Episode 079.


You’ll learn:

What this podcast will be all about

  • Information on this podcast is supplemental to LearnFluteOnline.com
  • How to break your habit of relying on the ABCs
  • Some exercises you can do to learn to read the notes on the staff
  • How our memory works
  • What you can look forward to learning from listening

Learn Flute Podcast 079

Press the Play Button to Listen Now:

Podcast Transcript

Good day to you all it’s me Rebecca Fuller here on a brand new episode of the Learn Flute Podcast. These audios are made by yours truly, inspired by you awesome online flute-learners. I’ll help you become the really great flute player you’ve always wanted to be. This is episode seventy nine, and today I’d like to share some tips to help you learn to read music without the ABC’s above the staff line. Let’s get started!

Flute players and learners come to me in all ages and stages, so it’s fun and never ever boring for me to help in all necessary ways to getting where we want to be in our musical journey.

Today we get to talk about a common issue that many and actually most budding musicians have, and that’s learning how to get past the point of not having to write the ABC letters above the music notes on the staff line. You know, when you’re first beginning, it’s like deciphering a code, and so it’s normal to write the translation of each note above it. The only problem with this is that over a period of weeks and months, and hopefully not years, that you could still be relying on playing the music by reading the alphabet letters instead of the actual notes on the staff — because you’ve trained yourself to do this.

Now, let’s get something straight here. There is nothing wrong with writing the ABC letters above the music. I did it myself when I began, and I do it for all of my students when they start learning. It’s not a crutch, .. it’s helpful in making that translation easier at first. So, how can we get to the point where we’ve weaned ourselves off of needing to look above or below the staff lines to read those letters? And, how long should this logically take?

Well, I have answers for you today. Glad you’re here:

Ok- let’s get going with a little list today that will help you so so much. First of all, if you’ve only been playing the flute for  less than a few weeks, then cut yourself some slack. For those of you who aren’t sure what that means, it means to just be nice to yourself. You’re a beginner learner, and it’s like we’re back in first grade again learning how to read. It will take some time.

But, if you’ve been on your musical journey for a year or more and you’re still using the letters above the notes as a crutch, then it’s time to take some initiative and throw those crutches away. In either case I’ll teach you how.

I should put a side note here that if you are part of the Gold Level membership at Learn Flute Online, then I give you all of the tools in the proper sequential order to making this transition happen super smoothly. I have all of the worksheets and exercises right there at the appropriate time for you.

For those of you who are still winging it by yourself, here are some real, tangible ways to make reading the actual notes happen:

You’ll want to make short exercises for yourself like this one: take a line of music you are learning and make a copy of it first. Then go ahead and write the letter names above the notes on one of the sheets. Make sure it’s something you’ve already or are currently studying so that you are familiar with the rhythm and how the melody sounds. Play it twice through reading the music. Since it’s only one line of music, it’ll be short and probably take you less than twenty seconds. Next, turn to the sheet that has NOT been written on. Attempt to play it by only looking at the music notes. You may not make it all the way across the line, and you probably will rely on your short term memory from when you just played it off of the first sheet to get you through. But it’s okay! No worries. That is exactly where we need to start.

Just ‘remembering’ what you’ve done is a perfect way to establish a connection in your mind for what you are seeing now to what you are feeling in your fingers and hearing in your ears. Yup! It’s not a crutch at all at this point. It’s the perfect place to start.

You’ll want to continue this exercise with new lines of music every day until within a very short amount of days or weeks, you’ll be doing it all yourself.

Now, it’s important for me to mention here that you should obviously only be using music that is on or below your playing level. For example, if you are a brand new beginner you should stick with a line of music that only includes the three or four notes you have been learning. And, please only use music that has the notes right on the staff lines.. Basically what I’m saying is not to over challenge yourself at first because you’ll be pretty likely to quit trying quickly because it’s just too much. Be kind to yourself and remember that you’ll want to simplify greatly until those first notes seem to be sticking more.

THEN you’ll want to continue this same exercise but adding a new note or two every few days. And, depending on how old you are, and how much memory and brain practice you have, you’ll be progressing pretty rapidly. Everyone is different in this capacity, so please don’t compare yourself with someone else – especially if it’s someone who is just ahead of you as far as time with their instrument and reading music.

Finally, for a last hint today I’ll remind you that making yourself a pair of good old fashioned flash cards is probably going to make your musical reading life happen a lot easier and a lot faster. There’s no substitute for rote memory. We start with remembering in our short term memory. After playing a quick round of flash cards with ourselves, we’ll have it down and think we’re perfected. But, then we go have dinner or take a nightly sleep, and then next day- it seems like we have to start all over again. It might feel frustrating, but we just have to realize that this is how our brains work. It’s normal!

Have you ever heard me give the analogy of digging ditches? I’ll give you a quick scenario. If you can picture that little cartoon guy like the one on that old video game called ‘dig dug’ – picture him running around in your brain with his little shovel. The first time you give him directions to create a maze from one side of your brain to the other, he tries to do it as quickly as possible with just a single thin layer of a ditch. And, then after time goes by, the ditch slowly gets filled in with dirt by some sort of natural erosion. Then, by the time you’ve gotten back to give this little digging guy the same directions again, he has troubles finding the exact path again and has to dig it all over again from new. This time, he does it a little deeper to try to make it stay. If this process is repeated over and over- within time, that ditch will be dug so substantially deep that there’s no way he could get lost in finding that same path again.

This is the EXACT process of moving something from short term memory into our long term memory. Yup it is.

I should be a brain scientist or something. Haha – it’s common sense to realize that it takes time and repetition only to make things happen well for ourselves. If there’s something we really want to accomplish in life, and it’s a learnable skill- then all we have to do is find someone who can give proper directions, and then we (and our little digging guy in our brain) just need to go to work, and we’ll eventually get there!

Well great! I thought I’d incorporate another fun testimonial from one of the awesome online students who joined into the membership a while back here at Learn Flute Online dot com. I get many of these types of comments each week, and I LOVE them.

This is from Jennifer in California. She says,

“ I am a sophomore this year. I have taken your online flute lessons since the gold modules. I am now almost finished with the intermediate lessons. I would first like to thank you for such an amazing program and the lessons you offer. Since I am a homeschooler, I had been looking for a flute teacher but couldn’t find a fitting one. Your program has helped me improve in so many ways. Jenn”

Well, you’re very welcome, and thank you Jenn for sending in this comment. My buttons burst with pride every time I hear of success from my program. It’s exactly why I designed it.

Well enough of that today, let me me know if you have a particular experience with trying to learn how to read music, and possibly if you have a new trick that I didn’t mention here today. I use all sorts of tips and techniques to help everyone learn, and today we touched on just a few ideas that will help.  

Put your thoughts here in the comment section.  You will all be hearing and reading this at different times depending on what level and stage in my program you are or if you happened upon this in the actual podcast directory at iTunes or on Facebook, Instagram, or  YouTube. Either way it doesn’t matter. Leave your comment here and within time will have more friends commenting and we’ll see you’re really good discussion happening all on this subject.

Thanks again for joining us. I hope you had time to come into the membership area and take a lesson this week.  The beauty of these online lessons is that you can do that anytime, anywhere, in whatever you are wearing. Haha it’s that easy! I’m Rebecca Fuller, signing off.

Bye now!

Thank you for Tuning In!

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I hope you’ve enjoyed learning more here as we learn to read music without the ABC’s above the staff line.  Join us for the next episode.

Have any questions? Comment below and I will help you out.

Rebecca FullerRebecca Fuller
Get Flutie with us! Learn and enjoy every musical minute.

2 thoughts on “LFP 079 | Learn to Read Music Without the ABC’s Above the Staff Line”

  1. The NewsLetters are emailed to us? Correct? I am finally in a PODcast! We older students may not be as savvy as younger students with instant navigation of courses. Thanks Rebecca.
    DeAnna Moore.

  2. The NewsLetters are emailed to us? Correct? I am finally in a PODcast! We older students may not be as savvy as younger students with instant navigation of courses. Thanks Rebecca.
    DeAnna Moore.

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