Reading by Touch



You’ve learned how your hands match the keyboard, and you’ve started playing with a single fingering pattern that works in any shape, starting on any note.

So now, we’ll use those fingerings to start reading music notation along with songs, and we’ll also expand into more shapes.

So start by grabbing the groups of three keys that stick up, so that your three fingers that stick up on each hand are aligned with these keys [show].

Now, your middle fingers are on the middle note of the group. And when you go to the playlist, you’ll find a bunch of songs where this middle note is the anchor note [start playlist].

You can start reading the first notation at any point during the song, and it has just this one note—the anchor. Try reading the notation along with the beat of the song. But you’re not playing on every beat, just on the beats where a note is written, like this [play].

It feels a little like playing Guitar Hero. And it can be a little tricky at first, because you have to stay connected to the beat of the song, and follow along with the notation to read which beats to play on.

You also have to keep your eyes on the notation, rather than looking at your hands, in order to follow along. But luckily, since your hands are aligned with the keys, you’re all set up to play without looking.

If the song you’re reading along with feels too fast, or too slow, skip to another song in the playlist that feels better [skip]. And when you’ve gotten the hang of it, move on to the second notation, which adds notes one higher, and one lower than the anchor, like this [play].

The challenge in this notation is that you play the new notes with different fingers on your different hands. So you have to coordinate your hands to move in the same direction, rather than using the same fingers.

And when you’ve got the hang of that one, move on to the third notation, which adds the notes two higher and lower than the anchor, which you play with your thumbs, like this [play].

Now, the songs in this playlist fit with three different shapes: the TOP shape, 5 to the Left, and 5 to the Right. And all of these shapes share the group of three top keys. But when you add your thumbs, you start to feel a difference between the shapes.

In the TOP shape, the notes two higher and two lower than the anchor hug the group of three top keys. But in 5 to the Left, the note two lower is stretched a little farther to the left [show], and in 5 to the Right, the note two higher is stretched a little farther to the right [show].

You can feel these different distances in your hand, and the new notes are also right next to the next groups of two top keys, so you can bump your thumbs up against these groups like this [show], and that will help you feel which note to play without looking.

So give it a try. When you get to the third notation, be sure to pay attention to which shape you’re playing in. And if you accidentally play a note that isn’t part of the shape [play], you’ll hear it right away, because it doesn’t fit with the song.

[front cam] Once you get the hang of it, reading with a song starts to feel very much like playing with a song—you’ve internalized the shape, and you’re connected to the song’s rhythm. The contours of notes you read start to blend together with the contour of your hands on the keyboard. And the whole experience draws you even more deeply into listening.

This is exactly what it feels like to be a fluent reader at the keyboard. So when you’ve had your first small experience of this feeling—or at least when you feel comfortable reading these three notations along with the playlist—that’s when you’re ready to come back for more.

Playlist and Notation

Level 12 Playlist

Notation: Anchor on the Beat

Notation: Anchor, Higher, Lower

Notation: Thumbs