Reading piano music sheet for left hand play

Music: Practice & Theory Asked by EmilyJ on December 4, 2020

So I am trying to learn how to from this video. I have very limited know-how to read basic note symbols. This is my first time trying to read a Piano sheet.

For left hand only: At 0:02 (first measure), the author pressed the D key. I thought it should be B. Again at 0:05 (2nd measure) the author pressed a B flat instead of a G flat. Again at 0:09 (third measure) The author pressed a G instead of an E. Etc. It looked like the author brought those notes 3 half steps up. When I played like as it has shown on the sheet, it did not sound right. But I played like her finger then it sounded better.

So, is reading left hand Piano sheet portion not the same as normal note reading?

2 Answers

to understand the notes in the left hand you have to imagine the notes are living in a house with 2 floors above the terrain (r.h.) and 2 floors in sub-terrain (l.h.)

The middle -C- is notated on the ledger line, if you play from there upstairs with the r.h. starting with the thumb 1-2-3-4-5 you play the notes c,d,e,f,g etc. like you know. Finger 5 is now on the note G on the 2nd line of the upper staff, where the treble clef at the beginning of the staff assigns the note G. (it is derived from the letter G.)

Now if you play downstairs with the left hand starting with the thumb on the middle C the tones 1-2-3-4-5 you play the notes c-b-a-g-f. Finger 5 is now on the key F (4th line in the lower stave) corresponding to the Bass-clef that marks the note F (derived from the letter F).

As you see the scale up from the middle C is mirroring with the scale down from the middle C, thus the position of the notes is different. You have misread the notes. The note names of the scales are the same - but their position is different like it is different in the 2 ocatavas in the upper system.

I think it is a bad method to say the names in the lower system are differing a third - like you could think when you compare what is played in the video and what you thought it would be: you misread about a third, because you thought the notes have the same position in both staffs.

So you have to look up clefs, grandstaff, keyboard and scales

Grand staff

My advice is to derive the notes from the middle C downwards and write the note names directly in the system, extending always a third: c-b-a, when you are sure with reading these 3 notes, go on: c,b,a,g,f and then g,f,e,d,c, finally C,B,A,G:

Mind that the lower C is in the 2nd space, G is on the first line, while the lowest C is on 2nd ledger line.

Correct answer by Albrecht Hügli on December 4, 2020

Is it the same as reading the r.h? Yes - and no.

The lines and spaces refer to different notes in the bass clef - which is mainly played using the left hand. The first note on the music is a D. True, if t was in the treble clef it would be a B♭. But it's in the bass clef, and that middle line is where D lives. From that, you can work out what other notes in the bass clef are.

Simple start - take middle C, which is on the ledger line under the treble clef, and on the ledger line above the bass clef. All other notes can be determined by counting up or down.

Answered by Tim on December 4, 2020

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