Some thoughts on music notation

Last week in a piano lesson, I explained to one of my students that the direction of stem of music notes changes with their location in lines and space of music notation. She asked me why she should obey that rule. Aha, that’s a good question. When we learn the instrument, we must also learn how to read the score. We are asked to memorize pitch names, different type of note duration and other notation rules in 5-line staff music notation system. We just have to obey and memorize them hardly.

In these few years I come across with students with dyslexia. What we think simple tasks are actually difficult for them. Through teaching them piano I know more about the hidden design of music notation. For example, one of my student have spatial problem. She feels messy with right/left and up/down concepts. For example we read and play notes of the notation from left to right. And the pitches of piano gets higher also from left to right. When the notes go with piano the same direction, for example ascending scale, she can manage to play. But when the notes are presented not in the same direction as the piano, for example, a few ascending notes follows by descending notes,  she will get stuck. The situation even gets worse when both hands also need to play notes in different directions.

Hope this year I can spend more time to investigate more on this topic.

By the way, today is the first day of Chinese New Year. Wish you all stay healthy and happy in this rooster year 🙂 .

Copyright © 2017 Alice Ho — All Rights Reserved








My Psychology Notes: Primacy and Recency effect of Memory

I have been interested in observing human being for long time. Incidentally I started my self-study of psychology in my gap year since last winter. Psychology is a subject about studying cognition, emotion and behavior of human being. Categories of psychology include developmental psychology, personality, psychopathology, social psychology and cognitive psychology. Psychology also covers animals in Comparative psychology and ethology.

Memory is one of the topics I am interested in. Generally I think I have good memory in daily life. I can recognize faces easily. I can recall details from the books and other stuffs I have read before. I also have good biographical memory. But ironically I don’t have a good music memory. So I feel headache each time when I need to perform with memory.

Memory is a key topic in cognitive psychology. What I am impressed is the concept about how the serial-position playing roles in our memory. The psychologists find that we tend to recall the first and last items in a series best, while the middle part worst. They name this tendency as “Serial Position Effect”. Furthermore, researches reveal that we recall last items of a series better just after the presentation as these items are still in our short term memory (recency effect). On the other hand we need more rehearsal to memorize the beginning items in order to convert them into our long term memory (primacy effect).

These findings give inspirations on how we can assist  music memorization, especially when I train my students to prepare for the aural test. In the aural test students are asked to sing back a short musical phrase played by the examiner.  My advice is to sing the phrase as soon as possible. When we wait we may forget the phrase easily. My another advice is that as the phrase is being played only twice in the aural test, in the first playing we may capture the general flow of the phrase and pay attention to those near the end of the phrase . Then in the second playing we can focus more on the beginning part of the phrase.

Copyright © 2015 Alice Ho — All Rights Reserved

Background music & your shopping behaviour

How do you listen to music? MP3 players, youtube, spotify, or from traditional media like TV and radio. But do you know that we have many opportunities in listening to the music passively.

Last day was my day-off. I went to a shopping mall in Mongkok. It’s crowded with people. I went to a large global fashion brand store. Impulsive, rhythmic and energetic background music is broadcasted inside the store.
Then I went to a restaurant to have my lunch. Here the music is relax and much slower.

Do you have similar experience? When you pay attention to listen to, you will find that music is in everywhere.

Lots of researches are conducted to see how background music stimulate sale. They think impulsive music can drive your desire to buy more. I’m not sure if this is true. Perhaps next time when you do shopping, observe whether you are under the influence.


Copyright © 2014 Alice Ho — All Rights Reserved