What Is The Treble Staff
Lets start by looking at the treble staff. This is the staff that typically shows which notes to play with your right hand. If you are learning how to read music notes for the first time, you must familiarize yourself with the letter names of the lines and spaces.
The treble clef symbol looks like this:
Youll notice in the image below that the treble clef symbol circles around the G line. If you can remember that, youll always be able to figure out the rest of the lines and spaces on the staff.
On your staff paper, label the white spaces with FACE starting with the first space at the bottom of the page and going up, then the lines EGBDF starting at the bottom line going to the top line. There are little tricks to help you remember the names of the lines and spaces for example, just remember the phrase Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge.
Why Learn How To Read Music
Being able to read music means you can see and understand the structure of the piece and how its put together, allowing you to develop a greater understanding of the whole composition. The symbols of sheet music, like most spoken languages, have been around for centuries. Each symbol represents a different pitch, rhythm, and tempo of a specific song. The symbols also represent the techniques used by whoever is playing that musical piece.
Some musicians will tell you that reading piano sheet music isnt necessary to be a competent player, but you only limit yourself by going that route. Many pianists will attest that learning and studying sheet music early and often is the right choice.
Learning this essential skill:
- Unlocks a world of expression and freedom on the piano
- Means youll be able to play in a band or other ensemble
- Helps you sight read on other instruments including strings, brass, or woodwinds
- Allows you to communicate about music with other musicians
Even if your main instrument is not the piano, learning the basics of how to read music note names can be easier when you know your way around a keyboard.
Studying the piano and learning how to read sheet music go hand-in-hand. To develop your skills in the most efficient way possible, you must start learning how to read sheet music right off the bat.
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After all, weve all heard a tune on the radio and thought, Wow, I would love to be able to play that. And weve all been envious of friends and family members who have performed in bands, constantly fantasizing about rocking out on stage with them. But how do you make those musical dreams become a reality?
Whether you want to casually play the piano at a party or tickle the ivories like a professional in a dimly-lit cocktail lounge, developing your music reading skills is the first step. Knowing how will give you an advantage in musical situations.
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Tips To Learning Music Notation Quicker
If you are currently a beginner violinist, chances are that you would rather play on your instrument than learning more about music theory. That is why learning music notation effectively is key!
For this reason I will end my post with a few tips that will help you to learn to read notes more effectively!
Tip 1: Introduce a few notes at the time
The best way to practice notes is to not overwhelm yourself with learning all the notes right away. My students always get the best results when we practice note reading step-by-step.
So how will you go about this?
Start with only learning the open strings and quarter notes. Then, slowly introduce more notes and note values as you go. Each time you have learned the new notes and note values, you can add another note value or note to the mix.
Tip 2: Practice with sight-reading from the start
The important thing about this approach is that you need to apply each piece of new knowledge! So as soon as you learn how to sight-read open string notes, be sure to practice playing some rhythms on open strings.
Each time you introduce new notes, I recommend playing exercises and songs with these notes.
Tip 3: Try out my step-by-step note reading course
If you are willing to invest in your violin education, I highly recommend trying my course Note Reading for Violinists. This is my step-by-step course to learn how to sight-read notes, available at my online violin school: Julias Violin Academy.
What Are Time Signatures
Sheet music is divided into measures, which are broken up by bar lines. Each measure contains a specific number of beats. The time signature tells you how many beats are contained in every measure. Every time signature has two numbers, stacked one on top of another. The top note signifies the number of beats contained in each measure. The bottom number signifies what kind of note is considered one beat, or in other words, what kind of note is given full value.
There are all kinds of different time signatures, but the most common are 4/4 , 3/4, 6/8, and 2/2.
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A Little History Behind Reading Music Notes
Sheet music is read from left to right. The reasoning behind this is that music began as an exercise most focused on the progression of notes in a scale or mode in a horizontal fashion. When more than one voice was sounded together, they usually sang in unison it was not until the 9th century that musicians became increasingly concerned with vertical harmony and polyphony.
Keyboard instruments, such as the organ, the harpsichord, and ultimately the piano, were instruments developed to satisfy this changing aesthetic and the increased importance of vertical harmonies. They were adapted into a notation that had been developed to address primarily horizontal concerns . This means beginner piano students must learn to think about the music on the page differently from the words on a page.
What Is The Best Way To Learn Bass Clef
The best way to learn bass clef piano notes is by practicing slowly and consistently. Just like learning to read treble clef, learning to read the bass clef notes on piano takes a bit of practice. However, there are a few helpful tricks that will help to increase your learning speed and ensure that the information sticks with you longer. We will practice with two methods here. The first is to memorize the notes by rhyming, mnemonic tricks like we commonly do with treble clef. The second is an interval method, where we base our reading off a few common interval spacings.
The Mental Flip Strategy: Reading Piano Notes For Beginners
You must flip the orientation of the sheet music in front of you mentally, so you can read the vertical orientation of the notes.
In order to begin to think about and practice this mental flip, there is an extremely helpful strategy you can use. You can actually turn the sheet music so you are reading the notes down the page. Doing so allows you to more easily understand the spacing between the notes and more intuitively grasp where your fingers should be placed on the keys. This technique is also helpful for visualizing the grand staff as a whole and where the octaves on the keyboard are located.
Understanding Dynamics Rests Articulations And Tempo
In all types of sheet music, there is a wide range of instructive symbols that help the music sound a certain way. Some of the symbols refer to how soft and loud a passage of notes are.
Others indicate when a pianist should be silent, and that exact duration of time. Articulations help when it comes to the character of the piece, making it sound more percussive or more lyrical.
Finally, there are indicators at the top of a piece of music as well as in the middle of certain sections of a piece.
Below is a list of the common symbols you will find in any piece of sheet music, and what they mean.
Piano Not to be confused with the instrument name, piano is an Italian word meaning soft. The symbol can be found in between the treble and bass staff when it applies to both hands. If the composer intends for one hand to be soft such as the left hand, they will put the symbol under the notes in the bass staff only.
Forte When a pianist sees this symbol, they should play that section of music loudly. The same rules apply for knowing whether one hand or both hands play at this level.
Mezzo forte & Mezzo piano These two dynamic markings indicate medium loud and medium soft.
Andante For slow and lyrical pieces, the Adante tempo marking is often found. This tempo operates between 76 108 BPM. A much slower tempo can be found in Largo which is at 60 BPM. A little faster tempo thats not quite allegro would be Andante Moderato which taps in at 92 112 BPM.
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Reading Music : Music Symbols
Basic music reading includes knowing what the most important music symbols are. To progress through your lessons, you need to understand what clefs, staffs, and notes are for.
Music Symbols: The Staff
A musical staff has 5 lines and 4 spaces. Each of these lines and spaces represents a letter which, in turn, represents a note. Often, you will see a vertical line that separates the staff into several segments throughout a piece. This line is called a bar. The space between each bar is called a measure.
Music Symbols: The Clefs
There are two clefs commonly used in writing music and these are the bass and treble clefs.
The treble clef is used for higher-pitched music. The symbol for this clef looks like a fancily written letter G.
Instruments that are played in a high pitch such as flutes, saxophones, and violins are written with the treble clef. As a keyboard player, you will be using both the treble clef and the bass clef. The higher notes of a piece played on the piano are written in the treble clef.
An easy way to remember the notes on a treble clef is by using mnemonics. For the notes placed on the line namely E, G, B, D, F, we use the phrase Every Good Boy Does Fine. The notes in the spaces are easier. Being the notes F, A, C, and E, we simply read it as FACE.
The bass clef is also present in piano music. It is where the lower notes on the piano, often played by the left hand, are written.
Music Symbols: The Notes
Putting The Hands Together In Sections
At this point, you should have a firm grip on what both hands can do individually. Now its time to see how they all fit together.
Because the rhythm has been thoroughly prepped in the previous steps, its a matter of simply putting the hands together in small sections.
Start by playing 2 measures at a time slowly. If there are any mistakes, then try to read them again until you can correct those mistakes. Ideally, to learn a section of music efficiently, you should aim to play each section at least 3 times in a row correctly.
This may take many more attempts to fix, however it will ensure that the section is thoroughly practiced.
Once you have a few small sections ready, start piecing them together into larger sections. A simple form analysis of the piece will help you find logical areas to section off. Most beginner pieces have a clear beginning, middle, and end section.
More substantial pieces will have more developmental material in between each of those sections.
Over the course of a few practice sessions, you will start to see the piece take form. Areas that were difficult for you will be more ingrained in your hands. You will even start developing a bit of memory and execution of playing the notes will be much sharper.
With consistent practice, this is how you can put a piece together the right way.
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B : : Do : Mi : Sol : : : : : : : : : :
The 3b music reading use the same 3 notes C, Mi and Sol that the previous 3a music reading but the Mi note is now in black so you must recognize it without the help of color.
Frequency is the most important thing to learn to read music quickly: to read 5 or 10 minutes every day or twice a day is the good way to learn, to read one hour one day and wait many days before to read again, the bad way.
What Are Dynamic Marks
Dynamic marks are another important aspect of music reading skills. These are the musical terms and symbols that tell you the quality of each note or phrases of music. Dynamic marks can tell you to play very loud, very soft, or somewhere in between. They are usually written in Italian. We wont go into the details of dynamics marks, but you can find everything you need to know about them in the article below.
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A : : Do : : : Sol : : : : : : : : : :
The 2a reading below is the first music reading . There are only 2 different music notes on the staff, the Do in color and the Sol in black .
Play the audio file and say or sing sing is better the name of each note Do or Sol while you hear it.
If you dont know anything about the 5 lines of the staff and the treble clef on the second line of the staff, the image below could help you:
You can learn more and have fun with our fullscreen mini online interactive tutorial Staff and Treble Clef:
What Is The Difference Between Major And Minor
The difference between major and minor chords and scales boils down to a difference of one essential note the third. The third is what gives major-sounding scales and chords their brighter, cheerier sound, and what gives minor scales and chords their darker, sadder sound.
If youve spent any time studying a few scales you should know many scales contain seven different notes. For example, the major scale contains a Root, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th. All of these scales and chords contain that important note the 3rd in them. A minor 3rd is one interval note lower than a major 3rd.
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Reading Dynamics And Expression
Getting To Grips With How To Read Piano Sheet Music
OK, you know the names of the lines and the spaces what next?
First, take a piece of piano sheet music youd like to learn. You may find a piano method book helpful for this.
With a pencil, label the lines and the spaces at the beginning of each line.
Now go through the piece and start reading. Work a line at a time. Using the two mnemonics, try to work out on your own first what each note is and write the name next to it.
At the end of each line, check the labels you wrote at the start and see if youre right.
Now carefully pick out the notes on the keyboard. Just at first, you might find labeling the piano keys helpful too.
Now, either rub off your notations or use a clean copy of the sheet music. Carefully try to reinforce what youve learned by picking out the piece again on the piano.
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