Teaching Tools: Glossary

Teaching Tools are provided in each Sheet Music product description to assist teachers, students, and parents in purchasing music. Definitions of how all terms are used on MusicAndTheory.com are provided here for your reference.

* Please Note: Terms were selected for each piece based on the piece’s skill level and how significantly each element is featured. Some terms are used only for select pieces, especially for beginning level music. Some terms may be not be listed for higher level difficulty pieces (the assumption is that the musician is likely already familiar with the concepts). Some terms may not be listed if they are not significantly featured (for example, an intermediate level piece with only one “staccato” note may not list “staccato” as a Teaching Tool).

Terms Glossary

5-finger Hand Position: Piece is mostly or entirely in a 5-finger hand position, or a major segment of the piece is in a 5-finger hand position. If a key is listed in parentheses, hands play in the 5-finger pentascale for that key. Examples: "5-finger Hand Position (C Major)" is written for RH 1 on Middle C (C4) and LH 5 on the next lowest C (C3). If no key is listed in parentheses, it is an atypical 5-finger position.

6/8 Time Signature: Written in 6/8 time signature.

8va: Includes 8va marks. Play the passage one octave higher.

8vb: Includes 8vb marks. Play the passage one octave lower.

Accidentals: Includes sharps, flats, and/or natural signs that are not within the listed key signature. Examples: Occasional use of G# in an A minor piece; frequent use of Bb in a piece that is written in F Major but has no listed key signature (for beginning level pianists).

Arpeggios: Includes arpeggios, i.e. a passage with the 1st (tonic), 3rd (mediant), 5th (dominant), and 8th (tonic octave) scale degrees. Differs from “broken chords” which may include only 1-3-5 or 1-5-8.

Articulations: Includes articulations such as staccatos and accent marks.

Broken Chords: Includes broken chords played melodically.

Call and Response: Includes call-and-response; for example, after the right hand plays a passage the left hand echoes it or plays a complementary phrase.

Challenging Key Signature: Written in a key with at least 4 sharps or flats.

Chord Inversions: Includes inverted chords.

Chords (key): Includes chords in a particular key, often primary chords I IV V (or V7).

Chromatic Scale: Teaches traditional 1-3-1-3 chromatic scale fingering pattern.

Contrary Motion: Teaches contrary motion, e.g. RH ascending passage with LH descending passage at the same time.

Cross Hands: Includes hand-over-hand movement, e.g. LH reaching over RH to play higher keys.

Crossovers: Includes finger crossovers, such as 2 crossing over 1 or 3 crossing over 1.

Cross-Staff Movement: Includes notes that travel across the Grand Staff, e.g. LH passage begins in the lower bass clef staff but transitions to the upper treble clef staff in the middle of a phrase.

Cross-Staff Slurs: Includes slurs that transfer from one hand to the other across the Grand Staff; technical practice for fluid legato playing.

Cut Time: Written in cut time.

D.C. al Coda: Includes D.C. al Coda indication to repeat from the beginning until the To Coda sign, then skip ahead to the Coda.

D.C. al Fine: Includes D.C. al Fine indication to repeat from the beginning until Fine (end).

D.S. al Coda: Includes D.S. al Coda indication to repeat from the Segno sign until the To Coda sign, then skip ahead to the Coda.

D.S. al Fine: Includes D.S. al Fine indication to repeat from the Segno sign until Fine (end).

Dotted Quarter Notes: Includes dotted quarter note rhythms (only specified for select pieces).

Dynamics: Includes dynamic markings (beginner level) or has a heavy emphasis on dynamic expression.

Eighth Notes: Includes eighth notes (only specified for early beginner pieces).

Fade-Out Ending: Pianist should diminuendo to nothing through the end of the piece.

Fermata: Includes at least one fermata.

Fifths: Includes a lot of fifths intervals (harmonic and/or melodic).

Finger Extension: Includes passages where fingers extend just beyond the 5-finger position, such as extending RH 5 up one key or extending LH 5 down one key (only specified for beginner level pieces).

Fingering: Includes a particular fingering technique other than thumb under, crossover, etc.

Grace Notes: Includes at least one grace note (appoggiatura and/or acciaccatura).

Hand Movement: Includes movement over the keys well beyond the 5-finger hand position (only specified for select beginner level pieces).

Key Change: Includes a key change mid-piece that is reflected by a change in the key signature, e.g. the piece begins in C Major and modulates to G Major.

Key Signature: Written in a key with at least 1 sharp or flat appearing in the key signature at the beginning of every line (only specified for select beginner level pieces).

Ledger Lines: Includes notes below or above either the Treble or Bass staff (or both).

Left Hand Treble: Left hand must read treble clef notes.

Legato: Includes legato style marking, either the word “legato” or slurs.

LH Melody: A significant portion of the melody is played mostly or entirely by the Left Hand, with Right Hand playing accompaniment.

March Style: Written in a march style, typically with a steady tempo of 120 bpm.

Minor Key: Written in a minor key.

Modulation: Includes 1 or more sections with distinct modulation, which may or may not be reflected in the key signature.

Octave Changes: Includes passages that require moving one or both hands up or down to the same keys in a different octave.

Parallel Motion: Teaches parallel motion, e.g. playing CDEFG in both hands one octave apart at the same time.

Pedaling: Includes pedal markings (only specified for select beginner-intermediate pieces).

Phrasing: Piece is particularly well-suited to teaching phrasing; typically contains slurs indicating each phrase.

Pick-up: Piece starts with a pick-up measure.

Repeat Note Fingering: Includes a fingering technique in which the pianist must switch to another finger on repeated notes. Examples: many As in a row fingered as 3-2-1-3-2-1 repeated, or four Gs in a row fingered as 5-4-3-2 before playing the next note.

Repeat with 2nd Ending: Includes repeat signs with 1st and 2nd endings.

Repeat: Includes repeat signs.

Rhythm: Includes challenging rhythms.

Right Hand Bass: Right hand must read bass clef notes.

Ritardando: Includes ritardando.

Rolled Chord: Includes a rolled chord, sometimes called an “arpeggiated chord” or a “glissando” (not to be confused with the term “glissando” that refers to sliding up or down the keyboard).

Scale: Includes scale passages and/or scale fingering, e.g. RH fingering 1-2-3-1-2-3-4 for an ascending line or LH fingering 5-4-3-2-1-3-2-1 for an ascending line.

Silent Change: Includes a fingering technique in which one finger should be exchanged for another while leaving the key depressed. Example: Play C with RH 2 but then switch to RH 1 while leaving C depressed

Skips: Includes skip-wise reading for early beginners (only specified for select beginner level pieces).

Slur: Includes slurs.

Staccato: Includes prevalent staccato notes (only specified for select pieces).

Steps: Includes stepwise reading for early beginners (only specified for select beginner level pieces).

Swing Rhythm: Piece should be played with a swing rhythmic feel.

Syncopation: Includes syncopated passages.

Tempo Changes: Includes tempo changes other than ritardando, such as accelerando, rallentando, or a tempo change for a new section.

Tenuto: Includes tenuto markings to emphasize certain notes. Interpretation of tenuto depends on musical context and is defined as either holding out the note for its full length (or slightly longer so that it “leans” into the next note), giving the note a slight accent, or sometimes both.

Thirds: Includes a lot of thirds intervals (harmonic and/or melodic).

Thumb Under: Includes passages where the thumb must tuck under another finger, as in a scale (1-2-3-1).

Tie: Includes ties (only specified for select beginner level pieces).

Transposition: Piece is a particularly good choice for practicing transposing; for instance, it may be in a 5-finger position with few or no accidentals and less complicated rhythms so that the pianist can focus more fully on correctly transposing the notes.

Triads (key): Includes chord triads in a particular key.

Triplets: Includes triplets; may be triplet eighth notes, quarter notes, sixteenth notes, or other. 

Unusual Time Signature: Written in a time signature other than 4/4, 3/4, 2/4, or 6/8.

Voices: Includes different “voice” parts, where multiple distinct melodies and countermelodies can be heard. Especially common in baroque and classical music but may be seen in any genre. May have 2 voice parts (one in each hand) or may have 3-4 voice parts weaving through both hands.

Waltz Style: Written in a waltz style.

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