Beginners: natural confusion between the horizontal plane of the keyboard and the vertical plane of the musical staff.
March 17, 2018
There are things which we take for granted which may be confusing to the student and lead to conflations.
We are aware that in the horizontal plane of the keyboard the following are true:
left = ‘low’ in pitch,
leftwards = ‘lower’ in pitch,
‘downwards’ on the keyboard,
going ‘backwards’ in the musical alphabet.
right = ‘high’ in pitch
rightwards = ‘higher’ in pitch
‘upwards’ on the keyboard
going ‘forwards’ in the music alphabet
If we switch to the vertical plane of the staff we know that:
down = low in pitch
downwards on a staff = lower in pitch
going backwards in the musical alphabet
up = high in pitch
upwards on a staff = ‘higher’ in pitch
going forwards in the musical alphabet
That on the keyboard, leftwards and rightwards have to do with change in pitch, but that on the staff leftwards and rightwards have to do with order in time.
It is often confusing for the student to keep track of the changing meaning ‘up’ and ‘down’ depending on whether the context is the keyboard or the music staff.
He is liable to make the wrong ‘pairing’ between the two planes, horizontal and vertical For example:
1) notes that move upwards on the staff but to which the student responds by going leftwards and not rightwards on the keyboard.
2) the student playing C and then D on the keyboard, but then says that the notes he played are C and B.
In both cases the ‘rotation’ of the plane by ninety degrees, between horizontal and vertical is the source of the confusion. It is a spatial difficulty that can be more pronounced in one individual than another, regardless of talent.