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View Full Version : Help, my keyboard playing is miserable



blade123
09-06-2008, 05:09 PM
I've been wanting to work on my keyboard playing, and all the music in band is way too hard. I have a hard time reading and moving up and down the keyboard. I can read bass clef decently and read percussive clef almost flawlessly. How do I work on it? I have a piano at home, so I can use that. What's the best way to work on keyboard playing?

David Hollywood
09-08-2008, 03:17 PM
Can you give more detail about what is causing you problems? Is it holding the mallets? Right hand stronger than left hand? Can't read the music fast enough to keep up? Can't play without looking at the keyboard? Not getting the right sound? All of the above and more? :)

blade123
09-08-2008, 09:19 PM
I'll show you what happens when I get any music.
Ok, an A, that's right there, got it. B, that's over there, there I got it. Oh, E flat. E if by F, so there's F, go to the left, go to the left again, ahh! There, I got it.

I have to do...everything...one...step...at...at...time...
I can hold the mallets fine and get a decent sound, I just can't read that well and move up/down the keyboard.

Marimba6
09-09-2008, 10:11 AM
Buy a book called Modern School for Xylophone, Marimba and Vibraphone (or check in the music library of your bandhall) It has a blue and white cover and starts off with whole notes. Turn a metronome on at 60 BPM, then read through each line, saying the names of the notes out loud as you begin to play them. When you get to the end of the 1st page, go back and repeat the process but this time say the names of the notes and try to say the names of the notes in tune with the note you are playing. Repeat that process until you can play and say the note names out loud and in tune without mistakes. When you can do that, apply all of those concepts to page 2. Work through 1 page then stop. The next day work on the next page.

You don't need to play those things quickly, but instead slowly and focus on learning the names of the notes, what they sound like and where they occur on the keyboard. Doing those things slowly and deliberately will over time build up your ability to play the notes and improve your sense of pitch, eventually allowing you to look at music and have an idea what it will sound like before you even begin to play it.

Practice in this way each and every day. Learning to read music is much like learning to read a book. Remember how you did that? You started with easy words and read out loud a little everyday in class. Just do the same thing here.

Big King
09-09-2008, 12:21 PM
Are drummers the best people to be asking for advice on this subject? I'd think piano or keyboard players would be "where it's at."

ZenErik
09-09-2008, 12:26 PM
Are drummers the best people to be asking for advice on this subject? I'd think piano or keyboard players would be "where it's at."
Do you see which section this is in?

Anyway, it just comes with practice. When I played xylophone in percussion ensemble like 4 years ago, I just had to memorize my parts. I could read music but not fast enough to just look at the page and play it.

PitDaemon
09-09-2008, 04:31 PM
Do you see which section this is in?

Anyway, it just comes with practice. When I played xylophone in percussion ensemble like 4 years ago, I just had to memorize my parts. I could read music but not fast enough to just look at the page and play it.
I agree. Sightreading well comes with lots of practice and muscle memory. If you need to get a part down for a concert, memorizing it so you can look down is a good way to go.

Big King
09-09-2008, 07:45 PM
Keyboards = Piano etc.
Mallet Percussion = Marimba, Xylophone etc.

Perhaps this section could be renamed.

ZenErik
09-09-2008, 07:52 PM
Keyboards = Piano etc.
Mallet Percussion = Marimba, Xylophone etc.

Perhaps this section could be renamed.
Every instrument that uses a KEYBOARD is a keyboard instrument. And they are all percussion instruments too. The piano is a percussion instrument. Circular definition, I know, but it gets the point across. Marimbas, xylophones, bells, etc. all use a board of...Keys.

Also note that the notes are set up the exact same way.

Search Google if you have your doubts. :)

blade123
09-09-2008, 08:20 PM
Keyboards = Piano etc.
Mallet Percussion = Marimba, Xylophone etc.

Perhaps this section could be renamed.
No, keyboard means piano, xylophone, glock, marimba, vibraphone, tubular chimes, anything with that layout.
With a piano, you hit the keys with your fingers. With a vibraphone, you hit the keys with yarn mallets. With a glock, you hit the keys with rubber or plastic mallets. With tubular chimes, you hit it with hammers.

Big King
09-09-2008, 10:47 PM
Sorry about all this. I was shooting up at work today.

Marimba6
09-10-2008, 10:20 AM
Heh. The piano is also lumped into the category of percussion instruments since it actually uses little felt hammers to hit the strings, so is the celesta, and the hammer dulcimer.

Anyway, I've been a band director and percussion instructor for both middle and high school for 15 years now. I feel pretty confident my recommendations to help improve a student's reading ability are sound.

PitDaemon
09-10-2008, 03:19 PM
Buy a book called Modern School for Xylophone, Marimba and Vibraphone (or check in the music library of your bandhall) It has a blue and white cover and starts off with whole notes. Turn a metronome on at 60 BPM, then read through each line, saying the names of the notes out loud as you begin to play them. When you get to the end of the 1st page, go back and repeat the process but this time say the names of the notes and try to say the names of the notes in tune with the note you are playing. Repeat that process until you can play and say the note names out loud and in tune without mistakes. When you can do that, apply all of those concepts to page 2. Work through 1 page then stop. The next day work on the next page.

You don't need to play those things quickly, but instead slowly and focus on learning the names of the notes, what they sound like and where they occur on the keyboard. Doing those things slowly and deliberately will over time build up your ability to play the notes and improve your sense of pitch, eventually allowing you to look at music and have an idea what it will sound like before you even begin to play it.

Practice in this way each and every day. Learning to read music is much like learning to read a book. Remember how you did that? You started with easy words and read out loud a little everyday in class. Just do the same thing here.
Yea, I think that's the Goldberg book? Probably the most widely known mallet percussion book besides Methods of Movement.

Big King
09-10-2008, 07:50 PM
Heh. The piano is also lumped into the category of percussion instruments since it actually uses little felt hammers to hit the strings, so is the celesta, and the hammer dulcimer.

Anyway, I've been a band director and percussion instructor for both middle and high school for 15 years now. I feel pretty confident my recommendations to help improve a student's reading ability are sound.

yes that I know... but in my over 20 years of playing drums and concert percussion, I have never heard of anyone referring to the marimba or xylophone as keyboards. Different lingos in different areas perhaps.

David Hollywood
09-11-2008, 11:01 AM
Keyboards = Piano etc.
Mallet Percussion = Marimba, Xylophone etc.

Perhaps this section could be renamed.

I don't like saying it this way because timpani and bass drum are both played with a "mallet" yet when people say "mallet percussion", they usually don't mean drums. "Keyboard Percussion" lets you know that you're talking about an instrument with a keyboard style layout. It just seems more logical to me, however, I can see your point.

Redeye
09-20-2008, 10:42 AM
yes that I know... but in my over 20 years of playing drums and concert percussion, I have never heard of anyone referring to the marimba or xylophone as keyboards. Different lingos in different areas perhaps.

I hear people call them keyboards all the time down in the South... so I guess maybe it is just different ares.

anyway...on the the topic..


I great book I've found to help with reading is a Fresh Approach to Mallet Percussion by Mark Wessels. It stars very slowly and gradually picks up. I suggest it highly!

AKx
10-13-2008, 06:32 AM
anyhow. Back to topic- Practice Practice Practice.




Or just make it up.

BTW - Piano is a STRING instrument as it is the STRINGS that are played.
For example:- a violin isn't a bow instrument because it is played with a bow...

David Hollywood
10-13-2008, 01:57 PM
http://visual.merriam-webster.com/arts-architecture/music/keyboard-instruments/examples-keyboard-instruments.php

Marimba6
10-14-2008, 10:03 AM
BTW - Piano is a STRING instrument as it is the STRINGS that are played.
For example:- a violin isn't a bow instrument because it is played with a bow...

Uh, no. A piano is a percussion instrument because the sound is initiated by striking the string with a lever driven hammer.

Here are a few supporting examples:

Piano is a percussion instrument. You are not plucking, strumming, or bowing the strings, like all the string instruments do.

Piano and other keyboard instruments are categorized as percussion instruments.

Piano especially because the percussion family creates sound by being struck, shaken or scrapped. The Piano hammer "strikes" the string.

It also often place in this category because percussion is the catch all for the instruments that do not fit in any other category.

However, Pianos, organ, harpsichord and clavichord are often categorized as Keyboard instruments with their own family.

AKx
10-21-2008, 08:34 AM
hmmm. in the UK here they are in the string class. Perhaps thats merely a cultural difference.

kinda like the pants vs trousers thing. (and jam vs jelly) ok, maybe not exactly, but you get what I mean.

David Hollywood
10-21-2008, 10:43 AM
Could be... it's an interesting discussion either way. I can see arguments for "keyboard", "string" or "percussion" when you talk about a piano.

ZenErik
10-21-2008, 04:34 PM
hmmm. in the UK here they are in the string class. Perhaps thats merely a cultural difference.

kinda like the pants vs trousers thing. (and jam vs jelly) ok, maybe not exactly, but you get what I mean.
Proof?

Ehrin
10-23-2008, 02:24 AM
ok, I think this discussion has really gotten off topic. Let's end it by asking an ever popular question... if a rose was called by any other name, would it not smell as sweet??? In other words, it's a piano, there is going to be no world changing event happen if it gets lumped in with percussion, strings, horns, or kazoos. To answer the topic of this post, try Goldenberg's Modern school for Xylophone. It's a great book that goes from beginner to moderate and will really help with movement.

iwishihaddrummoney
11-02-2008, 02:44 PM
This is a really awesome discussion... :rolleyes:

Get the book Fundamental Method for Mallets by Mitchell Peters. You'll be happy.

philee
12-23-2008, 12:12 PM
One small but significant piece of advice I can give concerning the music with your band is just to sight-read it on your piano. When you know how your stuff sounds, you'll have an easier time playing it and striving to re-create it on a marimba/xylo/whatev.

blade123
01-09-2009, 06:38 PM
I got a new teacher and he's helping me with mallets.
He taught me basic technique and is having me learn all major scales.
I am getting SO much better now. I'm not good, but I now have an idea on where to go and how to practice.