Lesson 4 - Section 1
Look at the quarter notes in the image for this section. They are all F note quarter notes. There are 4 quarter notes showing in one measure. Remember that all the notes in 1 measure, when added together, need to add up to the size for that measure? Well we are going to learn about how to tell what size a measure is.
Look at the first measure. It has some strange signs at the beginning of it and it has some numbers. We will be looking at the numbers for now. The numbers tell you what size the measure is. First let’s learn a little more about the different parts of the staff before we learn more about the measure size.
Look at the staff again. Starting from the top of the staff, there are five horizontal lines. Count these five top lines. These top five lines in the staff are called the Treble Clef. The Treble Clef shows the notes that you will be playing with your right hand on the piano. The Treble Clef has it’s own label so that you know it’s a Treble Clef.
Look at the object that looks like a strange violin on the left side of the Treble Clef . . . it is next to the 4/4 numbers. This is the sign (or label) for Treble Clef. In fact it is called . . . a Treble Clef.
Look at the staff once more. Starting from the bottom of the staff, there are five horizontal lines. Count these five bottom lines. These bottom five lines in the staff are called the Bass Clef. The Bass Clef shows the notes that you will be playing with your left hand on the piano. The Bass Clef has it’s own label so that you know it’s a Bass Clef. Look at the object that looks like a backwards letter C on the left side of the Bass Clef . . . it is next to the 4/4 numbers. This is the sign (or label) for Bass Clef. In fact it is called . . . a Bass Clef.
Now back to measure size . . .
The measure size is shown in two places on the staff above. It is shown once on the Treble Clef and once on the Bass Clef. The measure size is shown by using the 4/4 numbers (number 4 over number 4). The top number 4 in either the treble clef or the bass clef tells you that there are going to be FOUR NOTES that when added together are going to equal one measure.
The bottom number 4 in either the treble clef or the bass clef tells you the Rhythmic name of the FOUR NOTES. In the preceding lesson you learned about Rhythmic names for the notes. Which Rhythmic name had the number 4 in it?
The answer is a Quarter note.
So in the staff above there will be four (4) quarter (1/4) notes that when added together will equal the size of one measure.
Another way of saying this is that each measure will be 4 quarter notes long.
A measure can have any combination of rhythmic notes (quarter, eighth, sixteenth, half) as long as when you add them all together, they equal 1 measure or they equal 1. Yes, it’s mathematics again. Let’s go to the next section and learn more about the math in music . . . Fractions.
Lesson 4 - Section 2
The 4/4 actually represents a fraction. Four quarters (fourths) added together equal 1. Let’s look at some examples below.
* 1 = 1 (1 whole note equals one measure).
* 1/2+1/2 = 1 (2 half notes added together equal one measure).
* 1/4+1/4+1/4+1/4 = 1 (4 quarter notes added together equal one measure).
* 1/8+1/8+1/8+1/8+1/8+1/8+1/8+1/8 = 1 (8 eighth notes added together equal one measure).
* 1/16+1/16+1/16+1/16+1/8+1/8+1/4+1/4 = 1 (4 sixteenth notes, 2 eighth notes, and 2 quarter notes added together equal one measure).
As you can see, any combination of fractions that equals one is fine.
One last thing to learn . . .
The fraction (4/4) that you see at the beginning of the treble or bass clefs is called the Time Signature.
When I ask you to refer to the Time Signature in future lessons, you will now know to look at the fraction at the beginning of either clef.
In future lessons we will also learn about Key Signatures. Both of these signatures will tell you the important information you will need to know to play any song.
That’s about it for this lesson. Give yourself a great hug for getting this far. You now have all the tools you need to read and play music.
In the next lessons we will put the tools to work. Let’s review the tools you have now.
* Melodic Names (including sharps and flats) of the notes on the Keyboard.
* Melodic Names (including sharps and flats) of the notes on the Staff.
* Rhythmic Names of the notes on the Staff (quarter, eighth, sixteenth, half, and whole).
* The length (size or time signature) of a measure and how to figure it.
* Treble Clef (to be played by your right hand).
* Bass Clef (to be played by your left hand).
Before you go, in lessons to come you will need a music note book with blank staffs in it. You will be writing musical notes in it. You can purchase this at any music store that sells sheet music or you can download this PDF from here and print it. If you choose this option, please make 8 copies and staple them together into a book for yourself.
While you are printing and assembling your book, I thought you might enjoy listening to my daughter Courtney Sedgwick singing a Christmas arrangement I did for “What Child Is This.”