lead sheet for
lead sheet for
Now Playing
Down In The Valley
All the songs that we've introduced so far have been in even 4/4 time. The
count is 1-2-3-4 over and over. "Down In The Valley" is in 3/4 time. The count is
1-2-3 over and over. It is sometime called waltz time. While waltz time might
seem a bit old fashioned, but you will find that the three feeling as triplets is
very important in todays music. The shuffle beat use in blues, rock and roll and
many other songs is based on triplets. "This version of "Down In The valley"
has a bass chord accompaniment on the piano. This is a bit difficult for a
beginner to play. So we will just use the one chord per beat to play the song in
this lesson. We will learn to play bass chord style a little later You may have to
click on the player below to activate it. Then click on the play arrow to hear the
song again.
Using The Lessons
People that come to these pages through search engines enter on different pages. I
would recommend that to get the full benefit of these music lessons, especially if you are
a beginner,  you visit every page at least once. This is a totally new approach to learning
music. The focus is on "
How Music Works". That page that you miss could be the one
that contains the key information, that you need. These pages are full of music tips and
music info that you probably won't find anywhere else.
Playing Without Reading Music
Earlier I was a bit critical of teaching methods that focused mainly on learning to read
music for your instrument. In the first five free music lessons, "
Music Is Easy", "Schools
Of Music", "Natural Music Tones", "Sharps And Flats" and "Musics Great Secret" the
focus was on learning how music works and learning to play our example songs without
reading music. If you haven't done those lessons, you need to back and do them. If you
have done them, it might be a good idea to go back and review them. It was there that we
learned how to use a text system, with commas to mark off beats and semi colons to
mark off measures or bars to learn the timing of our songs. In this timing text system, we
put either the words of the song or the finger numbering for playing the song. The finger
numbering along with keyboard pictures gave the information needed to play the songs
without music. We learned to play "Some Folks Do", "Skip To My Lou" and "Tom Dooley"
without music in these first five free music lessons. Click on the links in this paragraph or
in the navigation bar on the right to get to those lessons.
The Piano Arrangement
Click on this Tom Dooley link to go to the piano arrangement. There will be a link to get
you back here. Listen to it. Look at the music. This is the way most music is presented.
It's called a vocal piano arrangement. Does it look a bit complicated? You have three five
line staffs. The bottom two are the piano arrangement with the melody notes on top and
supporting notes underneath. It has a treble and bass clef. The same name notes on the
bass clef are written a line or space lower than the treble clef notes. You have to read
both clefs simultaneously. Even for this fairly simple arrangement, for a fairly simple song
it's not that easy.. Most arrangements are usually a lot more complicated.  It is only one
of many ways the song could be played. It's only arranged for piano, not guitar or some
other instrument that you might play. It also contains the melody which makes it useless
for backing up singing. So even if you can read a piano arrangement, It's not all that
useful. There is a better and easier way. This a way used by many professional
musicians. Many professional performing musicians use a lead sheet. The top treble clef
on our piano arrangement with melody, chords and lyrics is a lead sheet. We can use
that all by itself. We'll take a look a that way next.  
The Lead Sheet  For  "Tom Dooley"
The top staff or vocal staff for the piano arrangement has the words, the melody and the
chords. The chords are the capital letters above the music. This is all you need. They tell
a musician what notes can be used to support the melody. This top staff without the
piano arrangement, is called a lead sheet. Look at the lead sheet for our example song
below. It is all good musicians needs to create their own arrangements right on the spot.
It's all they need to back up a singer or solo instrument. It's all they need to create their
own improvised solo. Listen to our folk song sample on the two players below. The one
on the left has three of the many ways that we can back up our melody. First we have
just a simple playing of the chord on every beat. Next we use what is called a bass chord
style. Finally we use an arpeggio style. These are only a few of the ways we could back
up the melody.  The music player on the right shows one more way to accompany the
song. It uses a shuffle beat.  In future lessons, I will show you these and may other ways
to accompany songs. For this lesson we will just learn to play the songs with a simple one
chord to a beat style. But as an accomplished musician working from a lead sheet, you
can decide on the style from a repertoire of styles that you've mastered. You may have
to click on a player to activate it and then on the play arrow to play it.
Tom Dooley With Various Chords Backup Styles
The Lead Sheet For
Musical Notation
Below is a section of the musical notation for the folk song "Skip to My Lou" with parts
labeled. It shows you how the bar lines divide the music into measures. It shows the time
signature that tells you how to count the song. The clef sign assigns the musical
alphabet to the lines and spaces of the staff. We know from which line or space the head
of the note sits on, which note to play. Being able to tell which note to play or sing is only
a small part of reading music. You have to play or sing the right note at the right time.
The style of a note tells us how long to hold it. Does it have a stem? Is the head hollow or
filled in? Does the stem have tails? These are the elements of style that tell us how long
to hold the note.  You will learn when we get into timing and rhythm, this is the most
difficult part of reading music.  If you have ever tried singing to karaoke, you know that
the music goes on at a certain speed and you have to keep up. You can see how,
musical notation gives you a lot of information in a very compact form. It tells you not only
note to play but when to play it. So even if we don't become great sight readers, we
should all get some knowledge of musical notation. We will get that in the next few
music notation example
Music Reading Abilities
I think we would all agree that a concert pianist, who has to play multiple lines of music
while keeping up with the orchestra is at the top level in music reading skill. The other
members of the orchestra, especially the soloist, even though they only have to read one
line of music have a high music reading skill. Even members of a high school marching
band, who play as they march along, are good readers. Someone who can sight read
and play a musical piece the first time without practice reads better than someone who
has to study it first. At the low end of music reading skill is someone who can use the
music to figure things out but can't read and perform it in real time. They will use their ear
and the music to learn a song but will ultimately play it without the music.
Your Ability
How good will you have to be at reading music. For these lessons the lowest level will be
good enough. There is nothing wrong with being able to read and write music as good as
you can. But being able to hear and play music is much more important. There are
actually musicians who cannot play unless you put music in front of them. They can only
play what someone else has written. Good musicians can do both but by ear only is
better than by music only. I will show you how to become a good reader if you wish but
not at the expense of becoming a good player.
Music Reading Tips
As you go through the next lessons, we are going to show you the best way to develop a
music reading skill. Musical notation gives you two pieces of information. What notes to
play and when to play them. You are always playing a song in a particular key. Most
songs only use a few notes out of the key. If you understand how the notes in a song
relate to the key and do not just look at them as a bunch of unrelated notes, you will
make it a lot easier to recognize what notes to play. Understanding how the notes relate
to the key also allows you to  play the same song in different keys. If you can look at a
group of notes and recognize the rhythm, you will make it a lot easier to play them with
the correct timing. Having to actually count out the time as you play will hamper your
reading of music.  Counting to learn the rhythms is good but eventually you want to feel
the time. Some time is nearly impossible to count. The triplets in the featured song of the
next lesson,
Triplet Ballad, and especially the shuffle beat of the featured song of the
lesson after that,  
Shuffle Beat Blues, are good examples.
©2004 - 2009
Reading Music Is Easy
A Lead Sheet
Reading vs Not Reading Music
In the next two lessons we will look at both aspects of reading music in detail. What is that
note and how long is it?.  We will look at music for all the songs that we've learned to play
without music. In this lesson we looked at learning and playing a song "Down In the
Valley" both with and without music. We saw how getting some music reading ability is
useful. We saw how you need to do more than just read music. You have to understand
the music.
lead sheet for
keyboard labled with notes for
keyboard labled with notes for
3/4 Down, in, the; val; ley; val, ley, so; low; -;

hang, your, head; o; ver; hear, the, wind; blow; -:
3/4 so, do, re; me; do; me, re, do; re; -;

so, ti, re; fa; re; ti, do, re, do; -:
3/4 1, 3, 4; 5; 3; 5, 4, 3; 4; -;

1, 2, 4; 5; 4; 2, 3, 4; 3; -:
Timing "Down In The Valley"
What do we need to know to play the melody of a song? We need to know what notes to
play and how long to hold them. The verse below gives us the timing. All our previous
songs were in 4/4. The top number tells you that there are four beats to a measure or
bar and the bottom number tells you that a quarter note gets one beat. For "Down In The
Valley" the count is different. It's in 3/4 time. The top number tells you that there are
three beats to a measure or bar and that a quarter note gets one beat. Remember, the
semi colon marks off the bars or measures. The commas mark off the quarter counts or
beats. So in our song "Down In The Valley" the first three words are on quarter beats in
the first measure or bar. The first Valley is split into two parts val and ley, each held for
three beats, each filling a bar. Then the word valley is again split into val and ley, but
now each part gets one quarter beat along with so to fill the measure or bar.. Finally the
word low fills the next measure and the dash in the measure after that shows that you
can hold it for three more beats for a total of six. The next phrase of the first verse starts,
again, with three words in the measure or bar. Then over is split into o and ver with each
part filling a three beat measure or bar. The next to last measure or bar has three words,
one to a quarter beat. The final word blow fills a measure or bar and the dash lets you
extend it out another measure or bar for a total of six beats.  Adding to what we learned
in the first five free music lessons, two things are new, the note held for three beats and
holding a note for more than one bar.
Notes For "Down In The Valley"
Pictured below are the left and right hand numbered for piano or keyboard playing. Next
to that we have the finger numbers of the right hand for playing "Down In the Valley" set
off with commas and semi colons to exactly follow the timing of the notes in the verse..
Under that we have two keyboard pictures that show you which piano or keyboard key
each finger plays. The one on the left gives the fingering for the first phrase of the verse.
The one on the right gives the fingering for the second phrase of the verse. This is
actually all the information that we need to play the song. We know which notes to play
and the timing of the notes. Below I've given you a midi for the melody. First listen and
practice until you can play it on your piano or keyboard.
fingers of the left and right hand numbered for keyboard playing
click on the player to activate
Understanding "Down In The Valley"
There is on other important element that you need to become a good musician. You
need to understand the music. Learning how music worked in the first five free music
lessons allowed you to play your songs in different keys.
You learned that it was the
spaces between the notes that make the melody and not the particular notes.

You learned that the notes were different in different keys but because the spaces
between them were the same you got the same melody. If you haven't done these
lessons you need to go back and do them. The navigation bars on the left of any page
can get you there and back to here. Below we have the notes of our song in the
universal major scale put into the text timing framework. If you go back to free music
lesson 2, "
Schools Of Music", you will see that it uses the same notes as "Skip To My
Lou". But there is one major difference. In "Skip To My Lou", our thumb plays do and so
is played with finger 5 above do. This makes the key of C the best key for singing, as it
starts on middle c.  In "Down In The Valley" so is played with the thumb below do. Do is
actually played with finger 3. In the key of F so is middle c and in the key of G so is d
above middle c. That makes these keys best for singing, the key of C is too high. In this
lesson, we play it in the key of G. Try singing it in the key of G. Sing it first, with the
words.  Then sing it with the solfeggio names to increase your sight singing skills. Now
that we've learned to play "Down In The Valley" without music lets see how easy it would
be to learn it with music notation. But first lets learn some music notation basics
The Lead Sheet  For  "Down In The Valley"
You saw how much explanation and how many pictures and diagrams it took to show you
how to play just the melody for "Down in The Valley" without music. The lead sheet below
gives you all you need to play the song with melody and rhythm or rhythm backup for
singing. We will go into more detail in free music lesson 8, "
Timing The Notes" but let's
take a brief look at how the style of the notes gives us the timing of the melody notes.
The 3/4 at the beginning of the staff tells us that there are three beats to a measure or
bar and that a quarter note gets one beat. We see the three quarter notes in the first
measure, with filled in head and stem, one to a beat. A note with a stem and the head not
filled in gets two beats but the dot extends it by half it's value to three beats. This three
beat note completely fills in a three beat measure. Finally the tie extends notes across
the measure or bar lines. How about which note to play. An experienced musician sees
the sharp on the top f line of the treble clef staff and knows that the song is in the key of
G and that all the f notes are sharped. An experienced musician also knows that the
second line from the bottom of the treble clef staff is the g line. Any note on that line is
not only g but also do for the universal scale in the key of G. With this knowledge, you
know what to play and understand how the notes relate to the universal scale of do, re,
me, fa so, la, ti, do. We will go into more detail in free music lesson 7 "
What's that Note".
Finally we have the chord names above the music so that we know how to back up our
melody or singing. It doesn't give you a particular rhythm style but experienced musicians
choose from the many they know. On this lead sheet in addition to the chord names, we
also have chord diagrams for first position guitar chords. These may or may not be
included on a lead sheet. The lead sheet for "Tom Dolley doesn't have them. This lead
sheet also includes two verses of the song
The Teaching Lead Sheet   
The Teaching Lead Sheet   
The one thing most lead sheet don't have is the fingering for the notes unless it's a
teaching piece or from a selection of songs for beginners. But once you have a basic
knowledge of the piano keyboard, you don't need keyboard pictures to learn the
fingering. On the teaching lead sheet below, I've included the suggested fingering for the
right hand melody. On the first line, the thumb plays d or so below g or do. Fingers 3, 4
and 5 play g, a, b or do, re, me. We continue to use these notes and fingers for the first
line. These are the only notes used on the first line. The second line starts with the
thumb again playing d or so below g or do. Finger 2 plays f sharp or ti, a black key.
Finger 4 plays a or re as before but finger 5 stretches out to play c or fa. We finish with
fingers 2, 3, 4, 3 to play  f sharp, g, a, g or ti, do, re, do. The last note do is held for four
beats with the tie and the two things at the end are quarter note rest, with no sound. Try
playing the melody to "Down In The Valley" to sound like the midi below but this time look
at the music as you do and see if you can follow along.
piano or keyboard inverted D7 chord
piano or keyboard G major chord in root position
Now let's add the left hand chords to our melody. We are going to play the simple one
chord to a beat. I've included the picture for left and right hand fingering below for
reference. For playing with a minimum of finger and hand movement, we play the G in
the root position but play the D7 inverted. They are pictured below. Switching from G to
it's inverted dominant 7th chord D7 is easy. Leaving you thumb on d, play c with your
second finger, a with your fourth finger and move your fifth finger to f sharp. Practice
until you can switch smoothly between them, then try play both melody and chords to
sound like the midi below.
fingers of the left and right hand numbered for keyboard playing
Adding The left Hand Chords
Reading Music
Now the question is, should we learn musical notation? The answer is yes. Music notation
is the only shorthand way to write music down. I would find it difficult to explain music
without using some music notation. The secret is in how we use the musical notation. You
don't need the music reading skill of a concert pianist. They have to read the bass and
treble clef in complex arrangements. In the next few lessons, we will explore reading music
and help you to decide what skill level you do need. This first free lesson on reading
music, "Reading Music Is Easy", gives an overview of music notation and helps you decide
what level of reading music you might want to learn. It explains the lead sheet, a simple
approach to reading music to play songs. But first lets review the playing without music
method for our new song "Down In The Valley". Then we will look at playing with lead
sheets for "Down In the Valley" and our other songs that we have learned to play without
music. Free music lesson 7, "
What's That Note", focuses on looking at music notation and
knowing what note to play. Free music lesson 8,  "
Timing the Notes", focuses on looking
at music notation and grasping the timing and rhythm of the notes.
Supplementary Songs
These free "learning how to read music pages" will give you access to additional teaching
songs. These special links will be here in the Supplementary Songs paragraph at the top
of the pages and in the relevant topic paragraphs on the pages. There will be links on
these Supplementary Songs pages to get you back to these free "learning how to read
music pages". This first link to a song page "
Triplet Ballads, Piano" teaches you how to
play this song on the piano. This song teaches you all the natural notes on the treble clef,
the triplet timing and with tied triplets begins to show you how to play the shuffle beat. It is
a part of free music lesson 7, 'What's That Note". The second link to a song page,
Shuffle Beat Blues Piano", teaches you how to play the shuffle beat. It is a part of free
music lesson 8, "
Timing The Notes".
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