Parent Handbook

Reading Music

Since the music in Book 1 is fairly simple, parents, you have a long period of time to master the basic music reading skills. Your child will learn the pieces mostly by ear, that is, from hearing the CD. The more your child hears the CD, the easier it is for him to reproduce the pieces and the less help they will need. You also don't need to know much about reading rhythm. Again, the children get that from hearing the CD. So, what you do need to know is how to read pitch (where the note is located on the piano).

You will need to read music well enough to: 1) Be sure your child is starting on the correct note. 2) Help her if s/he gets stuck 3) Be able to play each piece slowly with each hand. Parents are not expected to play hand together.

Since we play with two hands, pianists read two “clefs.” The treble clef is for the upper half of the piano (C1 and up) and is usually played by the right hand. (However, there are pieces in Book 1 where the left hand plays notes in the treble). The bass clef is for the lower half of the keyboard and usually played by the left hand (C1 and down).

The keyboard Each key on the keyboard has a letter and a number or name. Each entire octave (8 notes) starting with C has its own name (identified by a letter or number). So, the C in the middle of the piano, under the writing, is called C1. Each note within that octave also is called a one (D1,E1,F1,G1,A1,B1) At the next note C, the number changes so that the note after Bl is C2 and all the next notes in that octave are "2s". The treble clef octaves are given numbers. The bass clef octaves are given names. So, the C below C1 is called small C and all the notes in that octave are called "small" (small D, small E small F etc). Below that is the "great" octave and below that the "contra" octave. This way, we can identify any note on the keyboard easily.

When music is written (notated) for two hands which will play together, it is written on the "grand staff", which uses both clefs at the same time. The staff for each clef is joined by a brace which indicates that both treble and bass are played on the same instrument.

As you go to the next line up, you play the next white note on the piano, going up (to your right). And the next space is the white note after that...In Book 1, almost all the pieces start on and use one of the following notes in the right hand. So, to figure out how to play the right hand, find the starting note and then go up or down the lines and spaces to find the next note. After you find the first note, you don't really need to know the names of the other notes, just how close or far apart they are and whether they go up or down. (We always read music left to right).

Written Music = Symbols Composers use to Communicate

Composers use notes and other symbols on a staff to pass on what they intended. The horizontal and vertical lines above make up a treble staff (for higher notes) and a bass staff (for lower notes). Each line and each space on the staff stands for a particular pitch (sound), and they are named A through G. The sharp and flat symbols tell you to raise or lower the pitch by 1/2 step (or one semi-tone) from its natural pitch.

PITCH & RHYTHM - Notes have different values and are drawn as whole notes, half notes (held for half as long), quarter notes, etc. Their different values tell how long to hold it. When a note is drawn on a certain line or a space, it tells what pitch to play. Music is read just like we read words: from left to right, top to bottom. Once you learn to read the language of music, you can play or sing a tune or song just like you read a favorite book!

BOOK ONE IS FOR THE PARENT- The score (music) for Book 1 is not for your child. You can mark it up in any way which helps you. You can write all the names of the notes above them, or just the few that you need. You can circle the intervals (distances between the notes) that you have found difficult to remember. It is important that you spend some time by yourself at the piano when your child isn't around, figuring out the next piece, so that when the child needs help, you can give it easily instead of struggling to figure it out on the spot. Do not show your child Book 1 as they are playing. Keep the music in your lap or at your side. He needs to use his ears. In Book 2, he will get his own reading book (not the Suzuki book), but will still need your help learning the Suzuki pieces. By Book 3, your child will be able to help himself read the pieces and you will help very little.

Music reading is not difficult, it just takes a little time and patience to master a new written language. The notes on the page (score) are really a map of what you are going to play. As in reading words, the more you practice the easier it becomes. If you spend 10 minutes after your child has gone to bed, in a few weeks you will have mastered the rudiments of reading music.