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The Interval of a 4th

Learning to read intervals is not just about recognizing them on the staff. The real secret is that when you recognize an interval on the staff, you know what if feels like in your hand — that there is an automatic physical response to the visual input. This piece (and all of the pieces which introduce intervals) is written to strongly establish the feeling of the interval in the hand: 2nds stepping from finger 1 up to 4, then just 1 and 4; 2nds from 2 stepping up to 5, then just 2 and 5. We feel the distance between, and then the shape of the 4ths, as well as see what they look like on the staff.

Establishing good fingering habits is essential to good interval reading. 3rds are played with 1 and 3, 2 and 4, or 3 and 5. 4ths are with 1 and 4 or 2 and 5. Later on these fingerings may vary, but this is the foundation we want to build, and the place from which later variations will emerge.

Good readers know the names of the notes on the staff and recognize intervals. (After all, don’t you?) The two skills go hand in hand for fluent reading. Interval reading tends to come more easily for students; remembering the name of each line and space is much harder, and takes more time and work (and patience and persistence).

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