Learning To Play Notes From MIDI Files


1 Introduction

Note: Before doing this tutorial (or any of the tutorials beyond the introduction), the Help and Tutorials needs to be installed on your computer. If you haven't done that installation step, please do it before trying this tutorial. The reason it's required, is that you need to browse to files on your computer – you can't browse to them on the Internet.

With a whole world of music, recorded as MIDI files, and available on the Internet, a new way of learning to read music is available to us. The KeyMusician-Keyboard, with its graphical display of notes, and integrated MIDI player, provides us a way of taking advantage of this opportunity. Sheet-music is no longer required. MIDI files are small, so there no download-time to worry about.

Certainly this can be used in learning to play the KeyMusician-Keyboard itself, but also, you can connect any MIDI-equipped music keyboard to your computer, and play it through the KeyMusician-Keyboard application. This allows it to make use of the graphical display of the notes you play on it, and the matching (and display) of notes played by the integrated MIDI-player.

The way it works is simple. The notes played on any selected channel of the MIDI-player are displayed in the graphical display in red. The notes you play are displayed as blue. When you play the same note as is displayed from the MIDI-player, it is shown in green. The software also keeps score on how well you're doing in matching the notes.

For information on how it keeps score (and useful options you can choose), click on (follow) the following link:

The Learning-Metrics Dialog Box

In particular, it is useful to select the “Wait” option of the Learning-Metrics dialog. When you select it, playback slows way down, waiting for you to play the proper notes, and resumes the former speed when you play the displayed note(s).

The MIDI-player also provides an easy way of slowing-down the music (which helps a lot when you're trying to learn to play), and to set a range within the piece which can be practiced over-and-over again, allowing you to master a difficult section. The software tells you which of the 16 MIDI channels are used, and even the key-signatures used by the piece.

All of the training materials in this tutorial can also be used with a more traditional music keyboard (if it's MIDI-equipped).

2 Where To Obtain MIDI Music Files

Firstly, in the folder this tutorial is in, there is a folder of MIDI music, called “KMK-Exercises”, which has the music for each of the exercises in this tutorial.

Secondly, you can do a search on the Internet for midi music downloads (using your favorite search engine), which will give you a multitude of sources for downloading MIDI music files.

3 How To Use The Integrated MIDI-Player

The MIDI-player lets you hear (and see) just the part you're trying to learn, which is its default mode of operation, where no MIDI output device is selected.

You can also hear all of the parts (MIDI channels) of the piece together, but with only one of them (the one you're trying to learn) displayed. For this option, you choose a MIDI output device.

Click on (follow) the following link to learn how to use the integrated MIDI-player:

How To Use The Integrated MIDI-Player

4 Exercises For Learning To Play Music

When you start the keyboard application, the player is already 'looking' in your “Tutorials” folder, and in its “KMK-Exercises” folder.

In that folder, you will find the MIDI files for each exercise used to learn to play music. They are numbered sequentially (though with some numbers missing), indicating the order the in which the exercises should be done. When you finish one exercise, move on to the next.

Since the player is already 'looking' at the “KMK-Exercises” folder, when you click (tab-to and open) the “MIDI Files” drop-box of the player, you can choose which exercise's MIDI file you want to load. Click (tab-to and open) the “MIDI Files” drop-box, and look at the files available to be loaded.

Notice that the filenames in many cases have at the end of them, something like “-3b” or “-1#”. This is a way of telling you the key-signature to use for the piece. For example, “3b” indicates the key-signature has 3 flats. Likewise, “1#” means there is 1 sharp in the key-signature. Use the Transpose button to set the key-signature to match, before trying to play the tune in the exercise.

Note that though setting the key-signature to match the piece will greatly simplify playing it, in some cases there will still be a few flats or sharps not in the key-signature that you'll have to play manually.

All of the exercises in the range 01 through 21 can be played using “(none) – Display Notes Only” setting for the playback device. But they will all sound better if you use an actual MIDI synthesizer device – preferably a different one than the KeyMusician-Keyboard uses for its output.

The MIDI files numbered 01 through 24 all use MIDI channel 1 for the solo-part (the part you try to match notes from). So make sure the “MIDI Channel” spin-control of the performance pane you're using has a value of 1.

If you change any parameters of the performance pane, such as the loudness (VELOCITY, VOLUME, or Expression), press Shift-Enter (or click the “Save” button) after making the change. Otherwise, the values will revert to what they were before, if you have to hit the “Panic” button (Esc key) to clear any leftover note-display artifacts.

It is important to realize that although the software does everything it can to maintain a clean and accurate display of the notes, things like flipping through the MIDI channels while playing, or stopping/starting the player while playing, or repositioning the play position, can end up with “note-on” events without its paired “note-off” event, or “note-off” events with no “note-on” event, which can mess-up the display.

With the display in a bad state, some notes played may not display (though the keyboard marks are usually accurate). Also, the remains of flats or sharps to the left of the notes may remain on the screen – even though such notes are long-gone.

If your screen is in such a state, you can fix it by stopping the MIDI-player (use the “Stop” button), then pressing the Escape-Key (clicking the “Panic!” button of the performance pane). This will also fix the very rare case where a note keeps playing, and won't stop.

The following sub-sections describe each of the exercises.

Before starting the exercises, press the F1 key (or click-on the “F1 (Help/Setup)” tab of the KeyMusician-Keyboard main window), and click on (tab-to and select) the “Standard” radio-button, specifying the chord-system to be used. Then press the F2 key (or click on the “F2” tab) to bring-up the first performance pane. Drag the VELOCITY and VOLUME sliders to the right, specifying more loudness (so you can hear the note you play well, in comparison to the note the player plays).

Also, make sure the Transpose button is set to “0 (none)” (this is important).

4.1 01-LearnTheNotes

In this lesson, the notes of the scale (from middle-C to the C the 8th note above it) are played. As each note plays (and is displayed), notice in the keyboard diagram, where the key is relative to groups of 2 black keys, or relative to groups of 3 black keys.

The keyboard diagram in the display is rotated 90 degrees counter-clockwise to intuitively show how the keyboard notes match with the notes in music notation to the left. The diagram is drawn to scale. If it's hard for you to see, you can drag the KeyMusician-Keyboard main window's bottom (or bottom-right corner) with the mouse, to make the window bigger.

Click (tab-to and activate) the “Play” button of the player, and match each note the player plays (in red) by playing on your keyboard (or the typing keyboard). The note you play (if it's a different note) appears in blue. When you play the note to be matched, it changes to green. The notes are played in a non-sequential order. This makes you learn each note separately.

When you successfully match the note, look at the letter-name of the note (next to it, at the left of the keyboard diagram), and say (out-loud) the letter-name of the note.

The sequence of notes is played several times. When you are satisfied that you can reliably find and play the notes, click (tab-to and activate) the “Stop” button of the player.

When you have done all of this to your satisfaction, select the next exercise in the “MIDI File” drop-box.

Important Note: Exercises 4.2 through 4.4 are not particularly helpful, and you can skip them, starting with exercise 4.5.

4.2 02-LearnTheNotes-AllOctaves

This exercise teaches you that the notes you learned to find in the first exercise are repeated, both going up the keyboard (to the right), and going down the keyboard (to the left).

It starts by playing one of the 12 possible notes in the chromatic scale (the chromatic scale includes black keys, in addition to white keys). The note it starts with is toward the middle of the keyboard.

It then plays the same note the next octave higher, and then it goes the next octave higher, until it runs out of keyboard display space. Notice that the same pattern of groups of 2 black keys, and groups of 3 black keys, is repeated in each octave. Also notice that the letter-name of the note is the same, regardless which octave of the keyboard it is played in.

If you are using a MIDI keyboard that doesn't go up as high as the notes displayed, simply wait until it returns to a key within the range of your keyboard.

After playing each instance of the particular note going up the keyboard, it again plays the note (near the middle of the keyboard) it started with, and goes down to the next instance of the same note, in the next octave lower. Match the notes it plays.

When it finishes a given note in all octaves of the keyboard, it starts with the next key up (including black keys).

You play a black key below the white key (a flat) on the KeyMusician-Keyboard by first pressing (and holding) the “Page Down” key, then playing the key that maps to the same-letter white key, then letting up on the “Page Down” key. The note will keep playing until you let up on the white key's letter-key.

If it is a black key above the same-letter white key (a sharp), the process is the same as above, only using the “Page Up” key.

Again, if you are using a MIDI keyboard that doesn't have that many low keys, simply wait until it returns to keys you can play.

Click (tab-to and activate) the “Play” button of the player to start the exercise. The player's “Play” button is de-selected when it finishes playing.

When you are satisfied you can reliably do this exercise, move on to the next.

4.3 03-LearnTheNotes-AnyOctave

In this exercise, you match white-key notes, played in a non-sequential order, in any octave. If a note displayed is outside the range of the MIDI keyboard you are using, simply wait for the next note that is within that range.

When you are satisfied you can do this, move on to the next exercise (pressing “Stop”, if necessary).

4.4 04-LearnTheNotes-BlackKeys

In this exercise, you match black-key notes, played in a non-sequential order, in any octave. If a note displayed is outside the range of the MIDI keyboard you are using, simply wait for the next note that is within that range.

For ease in playing it on the typing keyboard, you can simply leave the “Page Up” key pressed the whole time.

When you are satisfied you can do this, move on to the next exercise (pressing “Stop”, if necessary).

4.5 05-Interval-Training-Up

In learning to play notes, it is important to be aware of how far the next note skips up, or down, from the current note. This distance between former note and next note, is called the interval. If you recognize the sound of the interval skipped, you have a good idea of which note up (or down) the next note is.

In playing notes, you get used to the feel of how far you reach up (or down) for a given interval.

This exercise teaches you the sound and reach of each interval within an octave. You also play the notes of the interval together, so you can recognize those intervals when you hear them played together.

This exercise starts low, and reaches up to the interval note.

For each interval, it:

  1. plays the two notes of the interval

  2. plays all the notes from the starting note to the interval note

  3. alternates between the starting note and the interval note 3 times

  4. plays the two notes of the interval together

Try to remember the sound of each interval, and how far you reach with your finger(s) to play it.

4.6 06-Interval-Training-Down

This exercise is just like the prior exercise, except the starting note of the interval starts high, and the interval-note is below the starting note.

4.7 07-ParallelThirds

This exercise is especially important if you use the typing keyboard, but it's useful if you use a MIDI-equipped music keyboard as well.

In this exercise, we play an ascending sequence of parallel thirds. A “third” is an interval. To play this interval, pick the low note of the interval, counting it as number 1. Then count up the next note in the scale, counting it as number 2 (but not playing it). Then count up the next note of the scale, counting it as number 3, and play it. So you're playing number 1, and number 3.

When using the typing keyboard, this is usually really easy, in that the low note is one keyboard key, then you skip up over one keyboard key, then play the next one. So you're playing pairs of keys with one key between them.

It remains simple like this until you encounter the end of a keyboard row. Then the high note (if going up), or low note (if going down, will be in the next keyboard row, and the other note will be the next note in the direction it's been going, on the original row.

That's hard to explain in words, but a picture will help. In this example (the pictures below will illustrate), we are playing pairs of keys on the home row, moving from right to left (going higher, on this row). When we play the A and the D together, we can't go farther left, because the key there is Caps Lock (which isn't used for music keys). We need to transition up to the next row, which will start moving left to right (for ascending notes).

So here (in two pictures) is how we make the transition (using the QWERTY keyboard layout):

Picture of fingers pressing the Q and S keys.

First, press the S and the Q.

Picture of fingers pressing the A and W keys.

Then, press the A and the W.

After that, we're back to the easy fingerings, pressing the Q and the E, then the W and the R, etc. You do a similar transition at the right-end of the new row.

So, armed with knowledge of how to do it, go ahead and play the exercise, and match the notes. Keep working at these end-of-row transition fingerings. You will get better and better at it.

4.8 Playing Actual Tunes

In the following sub-sections, we play different tunes, starting with easy tunes, and progressing to harder ones. Remember that you can easily control the speed of the piece you're trying to play using the “Speed %” slider of the player. Don't hesitate to slow it down if you need to. When you get better, you can speed it back up, or just disable the speed control to play it at normal speed.

Beware that if you slow a piece down too much, it may be hard to recognize the tune.

Each tune is repeated many times in what is played, and it ends (probably in the middle of the tune) when it runs out of space. The repetition allows you to easily try it over-and-over again, until you get good at it.

When you first start out trying to play each tune, you will 'stumble around' a lot, taking multiple tries to match the note. Don't worry about it – it's normal. Just keep trying.

Pay attention to how far the next note of the tune skips up, or down. You'll get to where you remember the tune in your head. Think ahead of the next note (as you remember it) before it sounds. That lets you anticipate what's coming.

Try to find ways to position your hand so that you can play the most notes without having to move your hand. Remember the feeling of how far you need to reach with your finger from one note to the next.

Even when you have to move your hand, you will find that you are gaining a feeling for where your hand is, and the feeling of where it has to move to. For these feelings to be accurate, it is important to sit in front of the keyboard at the same horizontal position, so pay attention to that before you start playing.

When you get good at a piece, you will find (perhaps to your surprise), that you can play the tune from memory when the player is stopped. That's good, since it's what you're trying to do – learn the piece to where you can play it from memory.

In a performance, you would want to play it from memory anyway, leaving you free to concentrate on expression details (rather than worrying about what note comes next).

As you get good at playing the piece, you will find that you anticipate the next notes, and your fingers seem to know on their own where to go to play them.

As you get good at playing the piece, set the speed back to 100%, and try it again. When your “Matched-Notes” score (in the Learning Metrics dialog box) is in the 90's, you are good enough to move on to the next piece. Though if you get bored with a piece, you can work on another piece, then come back to the one you grew tired of, until you can get your score into the 90's.

For a details on the Learning Metrics dialog box, click the following link: Learning Metrics Dialog Details

If you are using the typing keyboard to play the tune, it is really helpful to set the key-signature of the performance panel to match the piece. To do this, notice if the name of the file ends with something like “-1b” or “-2#”. If it does, it's telling you that the key-signature of the piece contains “1 flat”, or “2 sharps”.

Use the Transpose button to change the key-signature.

With the key-signature of the performance pane set to match the piece, you seldom have to play a black key (this works when using MIDI keyboards as well – you only have to play white keys). When using the typing keyboard, it's more important to set the key-signature to match, because it's harder to play the black keys.

The following sub-sections are various tunes prepared for you to learn to play. When you finish all of them, you're in good shape to take on any MIDI file you download from the Internet.

4.8.1 11-Dvorak-NewWorldSymphony

This is the theme from the slow movement of Antonin Dvorak's “From The New World” Symphony, which you will most likely find familiar. It's a slow piece, with few fast notes – perfect for your first attempt.

Here is the music-notation version of it for reference (from the KeyMusician Songbook). Don't worry about the chords for now (unless you want to play them). We're working on playing just melodies for the time being:

Picture of the "Theme from the New World Symphony" sheet music from the KMK Songbook.


4.8.2 12-FolkSong-Shenandoah

The plaintive tones of this North American folk song, underscore its words, longing for home.

If you're using the typing keyboard, watch out for the first note. It's the only note on the “home row” of the keyboard, with all the rest of the tune being on the next row up. You need to get good at fingering (with your left hand) between two rows when a tune encounters the end of a row, and passes to the next row. For reference, here is the printed music for it:

Picture of the "Shenandoah" music.


4.8.3 13-FolkSong-LochLomand

This traditional Scottish folk song includes the lines:

O ye'll tak' the high road, and Ah'll tak' the low (road)
And Ah'll be in Scotlan' afore ye
Fir me an' my true love will ne-er meet again
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o' Loch Lomon'.
(looks like I spelled the filename wrong)...
If you're using the typing keyboard, this is another tune that straddles between the “home row” and the row above it (on the left side).
It takes awhile to learn to play it entirely with your left hand, but you need to learn this (so your right hand can be free to play chords).
Here is the printed music for it, for your reference:
Picture of the Loch Lomond music.


4.8.4 14-Brahms-Symphony3-3rdMov

The beautiful, haunting theme from the 3rd movement of Johannes Brahms 3rd symphony. This one has a few flats in places you'll have to work at playing manually. It also has some phrases with fast notes. You might want to set the range in the player so you can practice those sections.

Another way to practice a hard section is to stop the player, and play it from memory (remembering the sound of the notes). When you get to where you can play it that way, try it with the player again.

Again (if you're using the typing keyboard), this tune straddles two rows, but you should be getting better at doing this more-complex fingering by now.

Here is the printed music, for your reference:

Picture of the theme from Brahms third symphony, third movement sheet music.


4.8.5 15-Grieg-PeerGynt-MorningMood-5#

There's an interesting trick to playing this piece, from Edward Grieg's “Per Gynt” (“Per” is like the name Peter), called “Morning Mood”. You will probably find this tune familiar.

If you don't set the key-signature of the performance pane, you will need to know the trick: It's entirely played using the black keys.

You can play it on the typing keyboard without setting the key-signature, by holding the “Page-Up” key down, and keeping it pressed while you play the tune.

Here is the printed music for it:

Picture of the theme from Grieg's "Morning Mood" music.
Notice that you could also have set the key-signature to 5-sharps, and played it.

4.8.6 16-Greensleeves

This is a traditional English folk song, which you will probably find familiar. There are two accidentals (flats or sharps) in the tune that you'll have to play manually.

If you're using the typing keyboard, the tune straddles the top keyboard row, and the next row down, on the right side of the keyboard. You'll have to get used to fingering between the two rows with your one (left) hand. Try to master this, since you need your right hand for playing chords on the numeric keypad.

Here is the printed music of it, for your reference:

Picture of the "Greensleeves" music.
In the music above, the D-flat is shown as a C-sharp (which is the same note). Either one will count as a matched-note.

4.8.7 17-Brahms-Symphony1-4thMov-1b

You may find this theme from the 4th movement of Brahms 1st symphony familiar, but regardless, it should be enjoyable to play. It does have some fast phrases that skip around, making it challenging.

If you're using the typing keyboard, set the key-signature right, and it will be easier.

Here is the printed music of it, for your reference:

Picture of the theme from Brahms first symphony, fourth movement, music, with one flat in the key-signature.


4.8.8 18-Ravel-PavaneForADeadPrincess-1#

Though Maurice Ravel (the composer) orchestrated a French Horn for playing the theme, I substituted the Oboe because when I learned to play the Oboe, I really loved practicing this piece. I hope you like it too.

There are some notes in the tune that are held out longer than you would expect, because a note in another part plays the note falling on the count (beat).

Here is the printed music of it, for your reference (it's in a different key-signature from the one in the KeyMusician Songbook):

Picture of the theme from Ravel's Pavane for a Dead Princess music, with one sharp in the key-signature.


4.8.9 19-BugleCall-Taps-2b

A bugle is a brass instrument, similar to the trumpet, having no keys for fingering. It naturally plays certain notes, at given intervals. You have probably heard this piece, “Taps”, played at military funerals.

It's an easy piece. I chose it to help you get used to playing common intervals.

Here's the printed music of it, for your reference:

Picture of the music for the bugle-call "Taps", with two flats in the key-signature.


4.8.10 20-SwedishYulSong-JomfruenHonGaarIDansen-1b

This traditional Swedish (scandanavian) Yule-song is a lively little piece, and your fingers will have to move fairly quickly to play it.

The title is something like “And The Young Woman, She Goes In The Dance”. In Scandanavia, they have a lot of really fun Christmas music. I first heard this played on an accordion.

If you use the typing keyboard and set the key-signature, it straddles two keyboard rows. If instead, you play it in the key of C (no flats or sharps), it's all on the row above the home row, but you have to play the one flat in the tune manually.

Here's the printed music of it, for your reference:

Picture of the Scandinavian Yule song, with one flat in the key-signature.


4.8.11 21-Brahms-Intermezzo-lullaby-3b

When you think of “Brahms” and “lullaby”, you probably think of a different piece than included here, a piece more like in his 2nd symphony. You are unlikely to have heard this one, from his “Intermezzo in E-flat opus 117, #1. Perhaps you will like it even better than the tune you imagined.

The tune is (here) played entirely in the lower (bass – pronounced 'base') clef. Played by the Cello sound, it sounds wonderful this low. I did this so you would get used to playing a tune entirely in the bass clef.

If you use the typing keyboard, the tune straddles the bottom row, and the next row up, which is another end-of-row transition you need to get used-to.

Here's the printed music of it, for your reference:

Picture of an excerpt of Brahms Intermezzo in E-flat, with three flats in the key-signature.


4.8.12 22-AmazingGrace-3b

This traditional Christian hymn is played here using the bagpipe sound, which didn't sound all that much like a bagpipe until I added the drone-pipe sounds. I split the drone-pipe sounds into a separate MIDI channel to avoid confusing you.

You'll have to specify the player's MIDI device to be an actual MIDI device to hear the bagpipe sounds with their drone-pipe sounds.

A lot of the enjoyment of the KeyMusician-Keyboard is the wide variety of instrument sounds you have to choose from.

Here is the printed music of it, for your reference:

Picture of the music of "Amazing Grace", with three flats in the key-signature.


4.8.13 23-Sibelius-SwanOfTuonela

This piece, by Jean Sibelius, “The Swan Of Tuonela” (from his Lemminkainen Legend), is a haunting image from Finnish mythology, of dark waters circling the island of the dead, on which a majestic swan swims, singing a mournful song, voiced in the orchestra by an English Horn.

Transposition is not useful in this piece. You have to manually play the flats.

Here is the printed music of it, for your reference:

Picture of the music of part of "The Swan Of Tuonela", by Sibelius.


4.8.14 24-Borodin-PolovtsianDances-3#

The Polovtsian Dances, from Alexander Borodin's opera “Prince Igor”, is probably familiar to you from its use in popular music.

This is another piece I really loved in my experience learning to play the Oboe.

It is tricky to play because of its fast phrases, and often-used grace-notes. Grace-notes are short, decorative notes that quickly transition to a main note. There can be multiple grace-notes, and there are many in this piece.

On the 3rd line of music, there are natural-signs, which means you are playing an already-sharped note, a half-step lower, making it a natural. Use the page-down key to play these accidentals.

It's the last of the pieces for you to master before taking on the world of downloaded MIDI music, so give it your best, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Here is the printed music of it for your reference. I left-out the grace-notes, to make it simpler, but you are welcome to play them, if you wish:

Picture of music from "Polovtsian Dances", by Borodin, with three sharps in the key-signature.


5 Learning To Play A Downloaded MIDI File

Before you try this on MIDI files of your own choosing (that you download), we'll try it with a couple of MIDI files I own the copyright on, and thus am free to distribute as I wish.

To proceed with the exercises, press the F2 function key to switch to the first performance pane.

For these last exercises, it is essential to specify a Playback Device in the player dialog, because you want to hear all of the parts. If possible, you should use a different MIDI device for the player output than the KeyMusician-Keyboard output. If you don't, the notes you play will 'collide' with the notes the player plays, but it will still work.

If you're using the BASSMIDI software synthesizer, it gives you two separate devices, so you can use one channel for the keyboard, and the other for the player. If you're using a Soundblaster card, you get two separate devices as well. You could also use the Gervill (Java) synthesizer for one of them, or the MS Wavetable synthesizer, but both of those have a lot of latency, which make it harder to match the notes.

On Linux, you can use Qsynth, where you configure an additional 'engine'. Each 'engine' is a separate synthesizer device (each having 16 MIDI channels).

On Macintosh, using the Apple-supplied Java 1.6, you will run into problems where the Java Sound Synthesizer can't play enough simultaneous instrument sounds. In cases where you run into this, you'll just have to move on to the next exercise.

5.1 30-Aere-Intermezzo-No-4-1#

The first piece is my “Intermezzo # 4”, which was originally a piano composition, in the spirit (and form) of the Brahms' intermezzo's for piano. Years later, when I got my first synthesizer (a Roland D20), I added a Cello part with the piano part.

Load this file into the player. On doing this, the “Channels” text-box will show you that I use MIDI channels 1, and 2. When (in the future) you first play a MIDI file you download, it is useful to know what channels it uses, and the player will tell you. Usually they don't use all 16 possible MIDI channels, but sometimes they do.

In this particular piece, the piano part is on channel 1, and the Cello part is on channel 2. But if this were a MIDI file you downloaded, you would have to find out this information. So we'll go through the process of finding out what is played on what channel.

The melodic performance panes (accessed by function keys F2 thru F10, and F12) use MIDI channel 1, and that channel is used by the piece, so let's switch to the F2 pane, then click (tab-to and activate) the “Play” button on the player.

As it plays, you will notice several notes playing at the same time. This is typical of a piano part, and though it is possible to learn such a part by matching the notes, it can be very challenging. It's a whole lot easier to learn to play a solo part.

So where the player says the piece also uses MIDI channel 2, click/activate the up-arrow on the MIDI channel spin-control, until it shows a value of 2. You should start seeing just one note at a time, which is more likely a solo part. In this case, it is the solo part, played by the Cello voice. You should also be hearing a piano part, along with a Cello part from the player.

If it were a MIDI file you downloaded, you might 'flip-through' a number of MIDI channels, checking if multiple notes at a time play (hard to learn), or only one note at a time plays (easy to learn). Be aware that not all parts play all the time. Some parts only come in at particular times, play for awhile, then are silent again.

If you have a sequence editor, you can load the MIDI file into your sequence editor, and it will tell you information about each track in readable form, and you can even edit the tracks in piano-roll form (or even music notation form) to look at the notes.

But you can (as we're doing here) see what is played in each channel by using just the player, and the graphical display of the performance panes. You simply “flip-through” the MIDI channels by changing the “MIDI Channel” spin-control of a performance pane.

Another thing you want to do, is watch the “Input Key-Sig's” drop-box (in the Learning Metrics dialog) as the piece plays. This will show you the key-signatures it detects as the music plays. The key-signatures that are displayed for a long time are the ones you want to use. Key-signatures that appear for only a short time are not useful.

Be aware that you may have one section of the piece that uses one key-signature, and another section that uses another. To play such pieces on the KeyMusician-Keyboard, you set up one performance pane with the one key-signature, and another with the other key-signature. You switch between key-signatures by switching to the other performance pane (by hitting its function key).

Be aware that a piece can have several key-signatures. A piece can also contain a few accidentals (notes not in the key-signature), which the software may interpret to be a key-signature change.

Of course, if you're using a MIDI keyboard, you can simply play the black keys indicated. It's harder to do this using the typing keyboard.

After you are satisfied with what you are seeing (one note at a time = solo-part, many notes at a time = accompaniment part = difficult to learn), press the “Stop” button on the player, remembering which MIDI channel you want to try learning.

Since flipping-through the MIDI channels while the player is playing can leave the graphical display in a 'bad state', it is good practice (now the player is stopped) to press the Escape-Key (or click the “Panic!” button of the performance pane, which will ensure it is in a clean state before we try to start matching notes.

For this particular piece, we want to use MIDI channel 2, so make sure that that channel is specified in the MIDI Channel spin-control.

Since this piece mainly uses 1-sharp as its key-signature, in the performance pane, click (tab-to and activate) the Transpose button, and select the “-5 = 1-sharp” key-signature. You should now be able to play the piece using all white keys, with only an occasional flat (or sharp) to do manually.

Also, to make it easier to hear the notes you play (above those played by the player), drag the “VELOCITY” slider all the way to the right, and also the “VOLUME” slider all the way to the right.

You may also want to change the “Instrument” drop-box to a different instrument – whatever you want. Who knows? You might want to play it with a wailing distortion guitar – your choice.

Press Shift-Enter (or Click the “Save” button) so it will remember these changes in-memory. Changes only get saved to disk by saving the configuration in the “F1 (Help/Setup)” pane.

You probably also want to slow down the player to make it easier for you to keep up. Slide the player's speed control down to say, 66 percent (2/3 speed) to start with – you can always slow it down more, or speed it up, as needed.

So now we're finally ready. Click (tab-to and activate) the “Play” button of the player, and start matching the notes that appear. Enjoy!

5.2 31-Aere-Romance in Descending Thirds-GM

This piece of mine, “Romance In Descending Thirds”, has various instruments (and combinations of instruments) playing along with a harmonic sequence of descending thirds (played by the FX2 Soundtrack sound, in channels 7 & 8). It builds to a high point about half-way through the piece, then builds again to a climax at the end, using different combinations of instruments, but bringing them all together at the very end.

To learn this piece, you follow the same steps as for the prior piece. This one, uses more MIDI channels, and it doesn't really have any one solo part. Any of the parts in channels 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 12, could be easily learned, where they use only one note at a time. But sometimes one instrument plays, sometimes another, and sometimes one or more of them play together. Toward the end, all of them are playing together.

MIDI channel 4 (the Oboe) might be the best one to start with. You ought to learn channel 6 (the Bassoon), because it is mostly in the lower (Bass) clef, which you need to get used to as well.

After you've learned parts in this piece, you're probably ready to start downloading MIDI files of your choosing, and learning them. It will be good to finally learn the music you enjoy most, rather than the music I could supply without copyright entanglements. Enjoy!


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