October 23

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How to Play Musescore Lead Sheets on Piano

By declan@decplaypiano.com

October 23, 2020


Musescore and Lead Sheets 

Musescore has the largest library of free sheet music and it is legal! Just like it's parent company Ultimate Guitar, Musescore is a community which generates a huge amount of quality song sheets for a wide range of music. The main difference is that Musescore concentrates on traditional notation music scores, whereas UG concentrates on chords and tabs (although it does not have the facility to show some Pro tabs in notation also).

As notation is an abstract language, a lot of people find notation difficult to learn. Even if you read notation fluently, if you are playing popular music, there are a lot of advantages in using a lead sheet, which has just the melody in notation and all the other notes (the accompaniment) shown as chords.  

The big question for many people though is how to you play a lead sheet, if the individual notes of the accompaniment are not specified .

The answer to this is playing patterns. 


Playing Patterns and Lead Sheets

Simple hand shapes and patterns of notes can be used to play complex music, just by combining one or more patterns and moving your hands to a new position on the keyboard for each chord. Many songs use a small number of chords (often 6 or less), so this means that you can make really rapid progress in learning new songs and it makes it much easier to memorise. 


There are lot of other advantages to using chords and playing patterns, such as the ability to choose a pattern that is appropriate for the playing level you are at. This means you can play a range of levels from beginner to intermediate, to advanced, from the same chord sheet or lead sheet. This is because most styles and levels can be changed by changing a playing pattern, but keeping the chord the same and the notes the same, just in a different order or different octave on the keyboard. With notation song sheets, you would have to get a different version of the song sheet every time the levels or style changed, as the notes would change and all of the notes are specified.


Notation vs Lead Sheets and Piano Tabs


If your goal is to play complex classical music then learning traditional notation is recommended, which can be done through a private tutor, using books (eg Alfred) or online apps like Simply Piano, Skoove, FlowKey, Piano Marvel, Playground Sessions etc….

However if you wish to learn popular songs on piano then there are much easier alternatives such as chord sheets, lead sheets and piano tabs. These alternatives not only make it much easier for beginners, but also enable much more flexible and advanced styles and and are commonly used by professional musicians in the popular, country and jazz genres.

For popular music, I recommend getting straight to the fun of playing, by using piano tabs, which replaces the abstract language of notation, with numbers from 1 to 7, that enables beginners to understand song sheets within minutes. An example of piano tabs that are used by thousands of students, is the PianoTabz format, which has been awarded a patent and has been featured on BBC).

The approach that suits many students is to start with PianoTabz sheets in order to play songs quickly and then later learn the treble clef and playing by chords, to be able to access a wider song library eg at sites like Musescore and SheetMusicDirect.

If you are playing popular songs for fun (not doing classical exams) then there are lots of shortcuts eg you don’t need to spend lots of time learning the rhythm part of notation, as you already know the melody rhythm for songs you love and can easily play the melody notes in time, by following the lyrics.

As you advance your skills, it is often much easier and more fun to improvise your own accompaniment based around chords (which is how Paul McCartney and John Lennon learnt piano), rather than read specific notes (as in standard notation sheets), so again you don’t need to spend time counting crotchets, quavers, semiquavers etc….


The 5 Step Formula To Play Lead Sheets on Piano 

The DecPlay 5 Step Formula enables incredibly fast results for beginners and to advance through the playing levels, all the way to advanced level. It applies to all ages and is especially accessible for seniors. For more details, see the video below:- 

 

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