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Reading Music

Reading Music: A Primer

Reading music is a goal of many students who come to Nashville Music Academy. Given my own struggles with sight reading as a young student, I always find this to be a valiant request. Learning to read music is like learning another language, and therefore comes with the benefits that you would expect from the latter. Adding to the challenge is the fact that each instrument has it’s own method for reading music. These include tablature for guitar, rhythmic notation for percussion, both bass and treble clef for piano, and the list goes on. Let’s discuss the challenges and benefits of reading music!

When I was first learning to play piano, it was by Suzuki method. Suzuki method is largely reliant on ear training. The student listens to a piece of music many times and watches the instructor perform it. Then with minimal assistance from the sheet music, the student attempts to play the song again, and again…. and again. When I enrolled in the music program at WVU, it was clear that I would have to become proficient at sight reading. It was a struggle. Of course I had been familiar with all the grade school techniques of memorizing the lines and spaces on the staff. We all know the old moniker Every Good Boy Does Fine. The challenge immediately became figuring out those notes while reading the rhythm and trying to keep up a decent tempo. Over time though, it became easier and today I am a decent accompanist.

Reading music is definitely like learning a foreign language. I would equate it to Russian, Chinese, or Arabic since it requires a new symbol charter. Like a new language, it opens you up to a whole new world. Like language, it has different dialects as well. Most are familiar with sheet music. The old familiar staff and notes sprawled out over many pages, marked with classical symbols for loud (f) and soft (p), staccato, slurs, ties, crescendos, etc. However, when I moved to Nashville I learned the “slang” of music known as charts. While some charts can be very complex, Nashville has it’s own language called the number system. This system uses numbers to represent chords, and various other markings to let you know how to emphasize certain parts of the  music. Yet again, I found myself speaking as  a “foreigner” and this time I had the privilege of being too formal.

Now I am able to navigate the formal and informal settings of music because I know how to read both sheet music and charts. Because piano was my first instrument, I can also read all the other forms of sheet music for the various other instruments. For this reason, many recommend starting with the piano. Reading music requires a patient student, but when it’s all said and done it’s definitely worth it. All of our instructors at NMA are proficient in both sight reading and ear training, and are literate in charts and score. To set up an appointment today, give us a call or text at 615-521-1937!

Author: Owner and Classical piano instructor/Tatia Rose

Tatia Rose Bio

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Alzheimers Patients Find Music Therapeutic

My father (pictured) passed away from Alzheimers Disease. It began when I was a young teenager still living at home, prepping for college while continuing my studies in classical piano performance. I would practice the upright piano and he would sit quietly in the other room. Most other times, he would pace nervously back and forth between the various rooms in our modest but aging house. It was an escape for both of us…

As an article from the Alzheimers Foundation so apltly pointed out,

“Music has power—especially for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. And it can spark compelling outcomes even in the very late stages of the disease.

When used appropriately, music can shift mood, manage stress-induced agitation, stimulate positive interactions, facilitate cognitive function, and coordinate motor movements.

This happens because rhythmic and other well-rehearsed responses require little to no cognitive or mental processing. They are influenced by the motor center of the brain that responds directly to auditory rhythmic cues. A person’s ability to engage in music, particularly rhythm playing and singing, remains intact late into the disease process because, again, these activities do not mandate cognitive functioning for success.”

This is a detailed way of saying something very simple. Music is therapeutic. It heals things that are broken within us that we cannot see nor explain. Somehow, we are unlocked by harmony, melody, and rhythm. The vibration that creates sound, stirs something us in as well. As a music teacher and daughter of a parent with Alzheimers, I can tell you firsthand that I have seen the healing powers of music.

Like Beethoven, you can find the path to lifetime success via music.

Music is the Path to Lifetime Success

If any one individual could tell us about the lifetime success associated with music, it would be Beethoven. As a young pianist, I would listen to vinyl after vinyl of his magnificent symphonies. As a young college student, I would often use his quote “One must be a genius to understand genius.” I spent a long part of my career as an instructor and pianist as a fan of the composer dubbed “the first rock star.”

What is it about musicians (especially the prodigies) that creates an insatiable drive for success and recognition? I came across this amazing article by Flavorwire that allows a rare glimpse into the brain of 20 brilliant musicians. The article highlights the benefits of music as a catalyst for success that is fueled by creativity and self-confidence. These two traits allow us to be ourselves, but also to share our thoughts and ideas with others. Leadership demands that we be able execute the latter. The ability to do so is the number one corollary between every successful person. So dare to dream friends, and find success on your own terms while enjoying the benefit of music lessons in your home our at our studio located conveniently in downtown Nashville (Berry Hill Districit).


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The Benefit of Music Lessons for People with Special Needs

A personal letter from owner and piano instructor, Tatia Rose… As a music instructor, I have been working with people who have special needs (predominantly autism) for almost 10 years now. The most important thing I have learned is that music is indeed the universal language, even for those who are non-verbal. The connection between vibration and sound allows all of us (even those with severe disabilities), to participate and create in a method of expression.

In addition, the confidence that is born from self-expression, enhances the social interaction of people who have difficulty connecting with others. The recitals we have every year are a great example of this. A parent of one of my autistic students relayed a great story to me…

“I picked up John from school, and the teacher pulled me aside and said, “Who is this Tatia that he keeps talking about today. And he said something about playing for people.”

She relayed that I was his teacher, and he had just done a great job at his recital and was very proud of himself. The best part of this though, is that John was communicating. I consider him a prodigy given his aural and theory skills, but John lacks the ability to use words like you and I. Since starting piano lessons, John has started singing along with some of his songs, and he’s using clumps of words as opposed to sign language and out of context, one-word responses.

This is the power of music. It is healing, connecting, and divine. It enables us individually and collectively to do amazing things. If you or someone you know could benefit from music lessons, please contact us info@nashvillemusicacademy. If you would like to know more about autism or programs for individuals with special needs, please visit




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Music Healing Our Mind and Bodies

Billy Joel on Music Healing

“I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from everyone loves music.”

Today’s research agrees with Billy Joel. The healing powers of music help us cope with pain, but also benefit our physical and mental health. Fortunately, music is a common thread in every human society.

Physically speaking, music has been shown to descrease pain, motivate athletic performance and endurance, improve sleep quality, decrease over-eating habits, and enhance blood vessel function.

In terms of mental improvement, music has been proven to reduce stress, enhance the meditative state, decrease the severity and frequency of the symptoms of depression, sharpen cognitive skills, and increase successful performance in stressful environments. The benefits of music are also seen in easing patient stress related to surgery and cancer therapy.

The healing power of music is a universal medicine, one which the whole world can partake. You can begin the path to a sounder mind and body today at Nashville Music Academy. We take appointments 6 days a week from 10 am til 8 pm (see weekend hours). It’s time to start taking your music vitamins Nashville!

References/fact-check found at