Learn to Read Music

Learn to Read Music

by Howard Shanet


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Learn to Read Music by Howard Shanet

This book Will

-teach the notation of music to those who have never known it before
-serve as a systematic reminder for those who once knew how to read music but have forgotten most of it
-serve as a practical classroom text book in the rudiments of music
-serve as a helpful reference book for the student in music appreciation and related courses

This book Will Not

-teach you to sing like Tebaldi
-make you a wizard at the piano or any other instrument
-turn you into an Irving Berlin or a Beethoven

But it will teach Anyone—even the tone-deaf—to read melodies and pick them out on the piano.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780671210274
Publisher: Touchstone
Publication date: 02/15/1971
Edition description: REV
Pages: 172
Sales rank: 288,018
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

Howard Shanet is Associate Professor of Music at Columbia University and Conductor of the University Orchestra, which, under his guidance, has gained a reputation for the daring and unconventional programs it offers the public. He has been guest conductor of the New York Philharmonic in its Young People's series, the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood, the CBS Symphony, and orchestras in Holland, Israel and elsewhere. Before that, he was assistant conductor to Leonard Bernstein and to the late Serge Koussevitzky.

As a writer on musical subjects, he has been Program Annotator for the New York Philharmonic and the New York City Symphony. Subscribers to Music-Appreciation Records are familiar with the long series of recorded lectures and printed essays he prepared for that organization. He is also the author of a history of the New York Philharmonic.

Mr. Shanet received his training in conducting from such masters as Serge Koussevitzky, Fritz Stiedry and Rudolph Thomas; in composition from Arthur Honegger, Bohuslav Martinu and Nikolai Lopatnikoff; in musicology from Paul Henry Lang. He holds two degrees from Columbia University.

As Mr. Shanet explains in his Introduction, he taught the contents of this book to more than a thousand students when he was conductor of the symphony orchestra at Huntington, West Virginia. Since then, tens of thousands of others have taught themselves from this book, and untold numbers have learned from Mr. Shanet's television series, also called “Learn to Read Music.”

Read an Excerpt


Many people who love music and have a wide hearing acquaintance with it suffer from a feeling of inferiority because they cannot read music and are timid about asserting their opinions in the company of musicians. They may have excellent taste and judgment concerning what they hear, but they wilt before the professional because of his technical knowledge. The layman in literature and art will stand up for his ideas, but the poor music lover is apt to back down and feel that somehow he has got beyond his depth. So music becomes something mysterious to him and the musician a strange fellow who lives in a world different from his.

Obviously, musicians are the best judges of music, but non-professional opinion should not be brushed aside. The layman is the consumer and patron and what he thinks is important. He will find that with technical knowledge music loses none of its magic, but he will be able to see through some of the hocus-pocus now. The ability to read music is the first step and can make him feel that what he has to say about programs and performances is entitled to the professional's respect.

Educators think wistfully that some day notation may be taught in the elementary schools along with the alphabet. Children could master it easily, and many of them would have a lifetime of pleasure from the skill. But it is not being done, and the concert halls are filled with eager people who have found out too late that they are missing something important.

To these frustrated individuals, Howard Shanet's Learn to Read Music will come as a happy surprise. Not only because of its clarity and competence but also because of the author's infectious spirit of optimism, the reader will arrive at confidence and hope.

Douglas Moore,

MacDowell Professor of Music

Columbia University

Copyright © 1956 by Howard Shanet

Table of Contents






PART ONE Notation of Rhythm


First Steps

Note Symbols

Combinations of Note Symbols

Additional Symbols


Combinations of Notes and Rests


Short Table of Tempo Indications


Rhythm Patterns

Some Characteristic Rhythms in 2/4 Meter

Some Characteristic Rhythms in 3/4 Meter

Some Characteristic Rhythms in 4/4 Meter

Other Meters

Compound Meters

Exercises: Reading Rhythms

PART TWO Notation of Pitch


Pitch of a Vibrating String

Early Notation Methods

The Staff


Exercises: Identifying Notes

Leger Lines


The Piano Keyboard

Table of Visual Patterns to Aid in Identifying Notes at the Keyboard

Exercises: The Keyboard

The Key Signature

PART THREE Combination of Rhythmic and Pitch Notations


"Au Clair de la Lune"


The Doxology ("Old Hundred")

"Jingle Bells"

PART FOUR Supplementary Symbols and Devices




Symbols for Dynamics

Symbols for Articulation, Style, etc.

PART FIVE Tonality


APPENDIX ONE Scales and Key Signatures



The Major Scale

Constructing Major Scales

Key Signatures, Major Scales

The Minor Scale

Key Signatures, Major and Minor Scales

APPENDIX TWO Vocabulary of Some Important Foreign Terms Used in Music


Terms Used to Indicate Tempo

Terms Used to Indicate Change of Tempo

Terms Used to Indicate Volume of Sound

Terms Used to Indicate Change of Volume

Terms Used to Indicate Simultaneous Reduction of Tempo and Volume

Qualifying Terms Used to Indicate Mood, Degree, Intensity, or Style



The Alto Clef

The Tenor Clef

Hybrid Clefs

Comparison of Clefs

Names of Octaves


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Learn to Read Music 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Even after earning a B.A. in vocal music, I still had trouble quickly sightreading musical scores during stressful rehearsals. 'Learn to Read Music' refreshed my knowledge of musical notation and also helped me find a quick way to grasp rhythmical variations. After many years of singing professionally, I still mark all of my musical scores using his 'tap' system and find I am a much better sightreader and concert performer. In addition, I have used this text to teach some of my singing students ways to improve their sightreading.