Measure 2 of the Moonlight- Going from Couch to Concert Hall One Measure at a Time


If all you had to worry about was learning one measure, could you do it well?

By focusing on fewer notes it is easier to get to know them all. And by clearing the field of distractions- in the case of one measure at a time, you are more able to understand everything.



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One Measure at a Time (Measure 1)


How do you get from Couch to Concert Hall? 

One measure at a time. It's those tiny steps, the little things like knowing each note, knowing every finger, figuring it all out, and then moving to the next measure to repeat the sequence, that will get you where you want to go. 

To get you started on learning the Moonlight Sonata, Adagio Sostenuto movement, here's the first measure. Once you get this one, do the next, and the next. One at a time.

If you want all of the measures at once, and the music to go with it, click here.


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Practice Routine- Go!

Uncategorized Oct 10, 2020

Using a practice routine is a deliberate habit which you use to ensure that you will make progress every time you sit down at the piano. 

The one I have developed here is in 3 steps:

  1. Get Ready
  2. Get Set
  3. Go!

So, by this point you should be at the piano with your music out and a tracking sheet next to you- is your pencil sharpened? It's time to practice. 

You have chosen to work on measure 12 of your piece. You play through it a few times, work on the fingering, are counting aloud. At some point you will ask yourself, "Did I get it right?" If the answer is yes, check off the measure on the tracker and move on. If the answer is no, continue working.

I often keep a "Frustration Log" when I get stuck. It's simply a list where I write the name of the measure, write what I was stuck on, and move on. Don't let one measure keep you from learning the other 200.

Happy Playing!

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Practice Routine, Get Set!

Uncategorized Oct 10, 2020

Using a practice routine is a deliberate habit which you use to ensure that you will make progress every time you sit down at the piano. 

The one I have developed here is in 3 steps:

  1. Get Ready
  2. Get Set
  3. Go!

Once you are sitting at the piano with your music and a tracking sheet out you are on your way. 

Getting Set is all about deciding in advance of a practice session what you want to get out of it. 

There are 3 steps in the Getting Set phase. 

First, review your tracking sheets from previous sessions. You will figure out what you want to work on next by looking at what you have already done.

Second, choose what you will practice. Already know measures 1-36? Start on measure 37. Already know the first part of the piece? Start at the end.

Third, decide what your stopping point is. This is the minimum amount of work you need to be successful. Don't worry if it is only one measure, you can change it as you get into your practicing. When I am working I ask myself,...

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Practice Routine- Get Ready!

Uncategorized Oct 10, 2020

Using a practice routine is a deliberate habit which you use to ensure that you will make progress every time you sit down at the piano. 

The one I have developed here is in 3 steps:

  1. Get Ready
  2. Get Set
  3. Go!

This is about what you need to do to get ready. Even the simple act of getting ready on a consistent basis gets you set up for success.

The steps in getting ready are ridiculously easy, but don't discount them. 

First - sit at the piano. It is really difficult to practice the piano if you aren't near one.

Second - get out your music. I suppose, it could be amended to be, get out the music you want to make progress on. I'll confess that sometimes I go to the piano, planning to work on one piece, and because it isn't close by, I end up playing stuff I already know. That's enjoyable, but I won't finish a piece I am not working on.

Third- Get out your tracking sheet(s). Tracking sheets are what they sound like. A way of keeping track of how much of the music you have...

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Diminishing Returns. The benefits of learning diminished chords first.

Uncategorized Sep 28, 2020

Diminishing Returns

To diminish is to make less or cause to appear less. In music it is used in several different places, the musical term diminuendo means to lessen in force, or gradually get softer or quieter in tone.

It also means to make an interval smaller by lowering the top note half a tone, or in the case of a piano playing one key to the left of the original one.

So, what's the "Return" for learning about diminish in the Moonlight Sonata- What's in it for you?

The hardest measures for a novice to read are the ones with the extra sharp and double sharps in them. If you learn how to play it outside of the piece of music, you will be able to play the passage with ease.

Learn diminished patterns before playing them in the piece. It will save you lots of time and effort. You can see an explanation video here.

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What's a Sonata?

Uncategorized Sep 28, 2020

What's a Sonata? It is a form of music, like a story made up of sounds instead of words. Characters are introduced, they fight and they make up in the end. It was a common form in the Classical period which went from around 1750-1820 or so, depending on the scholar you follow.

Sonatas generally have a beginning, middle and an end. In the case of the first movement of the Moonlight Sonata -the one you are learning here.

Exposition: The beginning of a sonata where the themes are introduced. Generally there are two themes connected by a bridge.

Development: This is the middle of the piece. It is where the two themes interact with each other, mixing it up a bit.

Recapitulation: (think Recap) When the themes come back close to their original form.

Often there is an extra ending or a Coda. It is like the epilogue. What happens to the characters in the end.

This course has been organized the same way the piece is. What do you notice as you build the piece up?

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Seven sharps and make F a double. Accidentally learning the Moonlinght.

Uncategorized Sep 28, 2020

Learning a new piece of music is a lot like cooking from a cookbook. You have to know how to read a recipe, and understand the techniques and ingredients.

Experienced cooks read through the recipe beforehand and make sure they have all of their ingredients on hand before starting. Novices jump right in.

You are going to learn the first movement of the Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven, as an expert. Don't worry, this course was designed to make doing the right thing the default, and if you follow the steps and pay attention, your Moonlight Sonata will eventually sound like the Moonlight Sonata of your aspirations.

To get you started, you will need to know what a sharp is. You may think you know this already, and maybe you do, but a refresher doesn't hurt.

The piano keyboard is set up with a repeating pattern of 7 white keys and 5 black keys. The white keys are often taught by their location in reference to the groups of 2 and 3 black keys. In English, the white keys are named with the...

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Italian for Beginners (or people playing the Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven) Parli italiano?

Uncategorized Sep 28, 2020

Do you speak Italian?

Personally, I can recognize when Italian is being spoken, and I can usually recognize when it is written, in italics, in my music. Recognizing it is being spoken or written doesn't mean I understand what I am hearing or seeing. I tune out and stop paying attention to things I don't understand, often.

To make it easier for you, I pulled out all of the Italian words in the music and have given you their musical definitions.

Sonata quasi una fantasia

Sonata almost a fantasy

The sonata is written in the style of a fantasia which is a free form and improvisational. This one is almost a fantasia...

adagio sostenuto

sustained slowly

This is the first movement of the 3 movements of the Moonlight Sonata. It means to play the piece slowly throughout.

Si deve suonare tutto questo pezzo delicatissimamente e senza sordino

This piece must be played very deicately and without mute

sempre pp (pianissimo) e senza sordino

always very quiet and without mute



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Building a graphic library, one 7th at a time (Major and Minor 7th chords)


Playing around with the major octave scale lead me to a much deeper understanding of Major 7th Chords. 

Take aways from this-

Using a progress bar can give your students a nudge. It is easier to hit a target when you can see it in front of you.

Getting students to play all of the keys on the piano regularly, even before they understand how to read the notes makes it easier for students to make progress.

Graphic libraries can boost your online teaching.

When you create graphics to share with your students, minimize the stuff on the page. 

Happy Teaching!


The full graphic library for the Major 7th chords is an added bonus to the 4 Note and Octave scale graphic library here


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