1. Why No Notes?

The piano is very seductive. A simple, tentative push on a piano key is rewarded with a tuneful, bell-like sound. Beginners on most musical instruments spend long hours learning how to produce a pleasing sound. And that’s not all. An upright piano usually has 88 keys. Lucky pianists! So many beautiful sounds, so easily available ‘at the touch of a button’, literally!

The iconic piano keyboard design is also a very helpful visual guide to all the notes a pianist can play. Most other instrumentalists can only try and imagine their instrument’s tessitura in their mind’s eye.

But… the piano’s immense pitch range makes learning to play the piano and, particularly, learning to read piano music unusually challenging.

Beginner pianists often find themselves, on Day 1, feeling like they’ve plunged into an overwhelming musical ‘deep end’. There are so many things to understand and process simultaneously – two confusingly mirror-image hands, so many fingers and thumbs, two lines of music (one for each hand), usually pitch-coded differently (i.e. treble clef and bass clef)!

If ordinary piano music sounds complicated – off-putting even – that’s because it is. No wonder beginner pianists with a good musical ear often prefer to copy what they hear rather than to translate hieroglyphics on a page. Even proficient pianists who seem to be reading music are often happier to play by ear and from memory than from sheet music. This seems a shame. So much good music is written down.

When children learn to read words, tutor books simplify the reading process. This makes learning to read easier and more fun… and so more likely to succeed. No Notes simplifies the baffling complexity of ordinary piano music for the same reason.

No Notes musical notation shows fingering rather than the pitch of notes. This type of notation is called tablature or ‘tab’. No Notes tab is very simple. There is a ‘keyboard map’, showing where the two hands go, and a ‘song chart’, based on ordinary piano sheet music, showing which fingers to use and when to use them. If you can count to five you are ready for No Notes.

No Notes beginners soon learn to make musical phrases using all the fingers and thumbs of both hands.  They can also rapidly develop independence between their two hands by practising catchy, rhythmic bluesy, riffs and grooves.

And, of course, No Notes beginners build confidence in their ability to follow, interpret and make music from printed instructions with every melody and riff they learn.  They are soon ready and motivated to tackle the fascinating complexities of standard music notation. 

Published by Dan Lloyd

Pianist, teacher, composer, author.

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