Key Concepts #1 (click to jump to Key Concepts #2)
NB: PLAY PIANO for every example - improvise - to hear "the concept."

* Music can be TONAL - "in a KEY" and NON-TONAL "without a traditional key". (We will study tonal music).
(think of/play an example)

* Music can use LOW, MEDIUM or HIGH REGISTERS. (Dinosaurs, Humans, Birds respectively).
(think of/play an example)

* Tonal music can be MAJOR or MINOR.
(think of/play an example)

* Notes in a key are called DEGREEs.
(think of/play an example)

* Degrees can be STABLE and UNSTABLE. An unstable degree always gravitates towards the nearest stable degree.
(think of/play an example) - "Un-stab-le tones -> Sit back down" (going up: B D F A------>going down G E C.)

* The most important degree is called TONIC. All pieces end with TONIC. It is also the FIRST degree. It is the most stable degree.
(think of/play an example)

* Music often has a steady BEAT (pulse) that drives it forward. Continuous BEAT groups make musical METER.
** But, occasionally, music can move from one sound to another without a perceivable pulse/meter. FERMATA stops musical flow (stop and wait).

(think of/play an example)

* There are STRONG beats and WEAK beats. STRONG beat is to be felt on "ONE". It is also known as DOWNBEAT. UPBEAT is what precedes the downbeat (either a single beat or a group of notes leading into the downbeat)
** [S W, S W... = duple meter; S W W, S W W ...= triple meter; S W W W, S W W W ... = quadruple meter.
(think of/play an example)

* Both BEATS and DEGREES are equally important. We will often concentrate on one aspect at the expense of the other. (i.e., playing steady rhythms, while hitting "wrong" notes).
(think of/play an example)

* During the flow of music, the combination of fast and slow notes create RHYTHMs.
(think of/play an example)

* 2 notes make an INTERVAL. Intervals can be large, small, major, minor, perfect, and sometimes diminished or augmented. 
(think of/play an example)
** Counting the bottom degree note as "1", the other note, depending on its distance from "1", would form such intervals as the SECOND (e.g., C+D or D+E), THIRD (e.g., E+G, F+A etc), FOURTH and so on. In music, the EIGHTH interval is called OCTAVE (same note in two registers)

(think of/play an example)
***  The smallest interval is MINOR SECOND, also known as the half-step. That's what black notes are for. The only two white key pairs that form half-steps are EF and BC.
**** SHARP (#) sign is used to raise a note by a half-step (e.g., C to C#). FLAT (b) sign is used to lower a note by a half-step (e.g., B to Bb).
(think of/play an example)

* 3 or more notes make a CHORD.
(again, think of/play an example)
** There are special chords called TRIADs made of three degrees: 1st, 3rd and 5th (i.e.,  every other note: C E G, D F A etc.).
(think of/play an example)
*** There are 4 types of triads: Major, Minor, Diminished and Augmented.
****Diminished is like "double minor" - you flatten the 5th.  Augmented is like "double major" - you sharpen the 5th. 
(think of/play an example - learn to find the 1st and the regular 5th quickly, then fill in with the third, hear the major/minor sound, and go through all types from there)

* If you think of a triad as a "fifth" chord, you build SEVENTH CHORDS by adding the seventh degree (to the triad), making a 4-note chord, NINTH CHORDS by adding the ninth degree (5 note chords) etc. (up to "thirteenth")
(play various examples)

* If you have more than one note (intervals, or chords), you can choose which note is to be the lowest one when played on the piano.  (E.g., with C and G, you could play G in the left hand and C in the right, and vice versa; for triads, either one of the three notes could be moved to the left hand to become "the lowest"). This process of changing which note is in the bottom is called INVERTING and the results are called INVERSIONS.
(play various examples, e.g., every inversion of C Major triad - C E G [root position] then E G C [1st inversion] then G C E [second inversion])

* IMITATION = "Copycat". Imitation is the foundation of music. You learn to do it by using your voice as a child, and then continue by using the musical instrument to imitate what you hear. It's an important learning tool, forcing you to listen and then try and recreate what you heard. It is also commonly used in musical compositions.

Improvisation routines:
* ping-pong (trading 4 counts - measures or beats - of something, back and forth)

Keyboard patterns:
* Finding groups of 2 and 3 blacks across the entire keyboard and learning to play patterns with a steady beat (maybe tap your foot along with the beat in your head)

Practice Strategies
* Finger and Hand Positions: Always have all the notes you *will* be playing under your fingers, not just the ones that you are playing and the next one.
** If playing with thumb on a black key, do not play white notes "in front of black keys"; do stick the "long" fingers between the black notes when playing whites. Uncurl the fingers.
*** Watch that your thumb does not come off the key above which it's supposed to be: no thumbs hanging off the keys!

* Be free of unnecessary tension, monitoring yourself as you play.  Avoid ignoring contorted positions. Attempt to find the most effort-free way of playing (though, it will take effort to get there).

* See patterns: what is the same in a piece (groups of notes, rhythm groups), what changes.
** Once you see and understand a pattern, memorize it (or at least try your best, by putting the book aside and playing what you just read)

* Learn small bits at a time. After you see something repeat - practice that segment in isolation till you get it. Then set it aside for now, and move on to something else. Construct your piece piece by piece
** DO NOT JUST PLAY all the way through, if you the slightest bit of feeling that you are struggling with finding notes, fingers etc.

Music Notation
*  Treble clef and bass clef.  In piano music, the top line of music is usually played by the RH and usually has the treble clef. Vice-versa with the other line.

*  :| sign means repeat: either from the beginning or from the closest preceding |: sign.
** 1---------------------- and 2----------------------- with the repeat sign mean play what's under 1-------------------- the first time, and skip and go directly to 2--------------- on repeat

* Identifying the end of the piece     -    |▐          (A double barline - second line is thicker).
    Find examples across the entire book, while identifying the last note in the treble clef staff - the tonic (with 99.99% certainty)