More About Notation

Would I like to see Key Map Notation generally replace the traditional notes?

Definitely Not!  Key maps make a wonderful contribution to keyboard notation. They are superior to traditional notation in some areas, but generally, they should not, cannot, and will not replace traditional notes.

Traditional music notation is a language with deep roots. It is a marvel as a language. It is universally accepted and understood throughout the world -- unlike the many spoken languages of the world's cultures. Not only that, but it is the written language for all of the different instruments of the orchestra, and for voice as well. It is more compact, taking up less space than key maps. It can be handwritten much more readily. It is actually a musical shorthand as compared to key map notation. It is truly a marvel! It is as likely to be replaced as is the English language!

How does the Piano Student's Workshop deal with traditional notation?

The steadfast focus of the Workshop is on learning to PLAY the keyboard, not on the notation. Clearly, the Workshop features key maps because the emphasis is learning to play the KEYBOARD. Notice though, of the four prep series in the Workshop, the  Grand Staff Prep Series, is based on traditional pitch notation (though the notation in the series is based on a timeline as is the key map notation).

Students completing all four series will have developed intermediate level keyboard skills playing from key diagrams and maps, traditional notes, and standard chord symbols.

Why don't the traditional notes show the sounds graphically?

We can make a pretty good guess. First of all, the traditional or standard notation IS graphic in its showing of pitch. The notes go up, the sound goes up, the notes go down, the sound goes down. The notes just doesn't match what we do with the keyboard where the sounds go up to the right and down to the left.

We need to recognize that the traditional notation was not invented at one time but evolved gradually over centuries. Musicians gradually developed it to meet the needs of all musicians, not just keyboard players. In its present form the notation meets the needs of just about everyone - singers, violinists, organists, etc.

It's pretty obvious that if the notation graphics exactly meet the needs of one group, they won't exactly meet the needs of another group. In the notation's present state, it is a compromise.

Actually, and of necessity, the traditional notation is a form of shorthand. It is very compact for what it does. It was developed by composers and copyists centuries ago who had to write out every note by hand. Just imagine how many notes had to be written out for Beethoven's 9th Symphony. Notes for the conductor, notes for each pair of musicians in the huge orchestra, notes for the 4 soloists, notes for the huge chorus. You get the picture.

No wonder the notation turned out be a form of shorthand! But now that we have computers to do the work, we don't have to be stuck with a shorthand designed for composers and copyists. For keyboards at least, we can use the power of computers to give us a notation that is designed for the convenience of the one playing the keyboard. Still we are able to keep the notation designed for the convenience of the composers and copyists - and for all those musicians who don't play the keyboard.