Thursday, December 8, 2022

How To Read Sheet Music For Piano

How Does The Music Staff Relate To The Piano Keyboard

How To Read Notes (Beginner Piano Lesson)

To understand how the grand staff relates to the piano keyboard, you simply rotate the grand staff to the right.

Now the bass staff is on the left and the treble staff is on the right.

This is lines up with how the notes increase in pitch as we move to the right on the piano, and decrease in pitch as we move to the left on the piano.

Reading Piano Sheet Music For Beginners

Learning how to read music as a beginner simply means learning what the symbols on the page are telling your hands to do. This includes knowing the names of the piano keys, the notes on the musical staff, time signatures, note values, and different musical symbols.

But, before we dive into basic music reading skills , youll want to make sure you have all the supplies you need. This means some blank staff paper, an erasable pencil , and a keyboard instrument of some kind. You dont need a Steinway to get started a small keyboard will do fine for learning the basics of music reading. You will, however, want at least 66 keys to play complete most pieces of music.

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.

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Learn The Basic Symbols Of Musical Notation

Music is made up of a variety of symbols, the most basic of which are the staff, the clefs, and the notes. All music contains these fundamental components, and to learn how to read music, you must first familiarize yourself with these basics.

The Staff

The staff consists of five lines and four spaces. Each of those lines and each of those spaces represents a different letter, which in turn represents a note. Sheet music notes, represented by lines and spaces, are named A-G, and the note sequence moves alphabetically up the staff.

Treble Clef

There are two main clefs with which to familiarize yourself the first is a treble clef. The treble clef has the ornamental letter G on the far left side. The Gs inner swoop encircles the G line on the staff. The treble clef notates the higher registers of music, so if your instrument has a higher pitch, such as a flute, violin, or saxophone, your sheet music is written in the treble clef. Higher notes on a keyboard also are notated on the treble clef.

We use common mnemonics to remember the note names for the lines and spaces of the treble clef. For lines, we remember EGBDF by the word cue Every Good Boy Does Fine. Similarly, for the spaces, FACE is just like the word face.

Bass Clef

A common mnemonic to remember note names for the lines of the bass clef is: GBDFA Good Boys Do Fine Always. And for the spaces: ACEG, All Cows Eat Grass.

Sheet Music Symbols and Notes on a Staff

Reading The Rhythm Of Sheet Music

How To Read Piano Sheet Music.

Its still important to know the basics of how to read music and have a good sense of timing.

For now all you have to know is that when playing music, you count everything out so that it flows properly. So remember our time signature of 4/4 from this lesson? Where there are 4 beats in a every measure and every quarter note gets the count of one, single beat?

Heres how you would write that out on a music staff.

Heres how you would count that out 1, 2, 3, 4. How fast you count that all depends on the tempo of the song. Simple enough right?


Now if you have a bar of eighth notes, heres what it would look like:

Now if you count at the same speed/tempo as the last example heres how you would count out the eighth notes 1-and, 2-and, 3-and, 4-and.

Heres what sixteenth notes look like written out :

You would count these as 1-e-and-uh, 2-e-and-uh, 3-e-and-uh, 4-e-and-uh.

Even though the number of notes on the staff doubles each time, the speed or tempo at which you play the notes remains the same. That means sixteenth notes are played faster than quarter notes.

Now what about the different sounds when you play different keys of the piano? How are they written out?

Heres a little chart for you:

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How Long Does It Take To Learn To Read Sheet Music

Depending on how far you are along in your learning process, it might take anywhere from 1.5 to 2 years until you feel comfortable sight reading. Generally speaking, the difficulty of the music you are able to sight read successfully will always be around two levels below the difficulty of the repertoire you prepare for recitals and other performances.

Learn The Locations Of The Keys

Before attempting to read any sheet music, there needs to be a clear understanding of what all of those black and white keys mean. This is one of the first things I outline in my piano course which you can check out here. The black and white keys represent all of the different tones of the piano.

As you look at the keyboard the first thing that should stick out to you is how the piano keys are organized in a pattern.

Looking at the diagram above its clear that there are groups of two black keys and groups of three white keys. That pattern of two and three repeats up and down the entire piano.

The first white note located in front of the group of two black keys is called C. Every time you see a group of two black notes, that first white key will always be a C. The lower the C you play on the piano, the deeper the tone will be. The higher the C on the piano, the brighter the tone will be.

The note located in front of the group of three black keys is F. The same logic applies here too. Because the piano is designed around the musical alphabet, its easy to see how the pattern repeats.

The seven different tones on the piano are A B C D E F G. These are the basic notes of the music alphabet, and they can be augmented in many ways which well discuss later in the steps.

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Why Reading Ahead Is Important

One of the most important things in learning how to read piano sheet music is reading ahead.

As the term implies, reading ahead means reading in advance a few beats or measures ahead of what you are playing.

This is one of the keys to coping with any tempo when sight reading.

Heres how to practice reading ahead:

  • Read your sheet music. Try to imagine the sound of the notes you are reading in its correct tempo.
  • Begin playing by reading at leas the 1st 2 beats up. You can read more than just 2 beats once you get used to this process.
  • Start playing what youve read before while reading the next 2 beats.
  • Repeat the process.
  • Being able to read ahead will work wonders on how you read piano sheet music.

    Now that weve dealt with rhythm, lets learn how to read pitch.

    What Is A Piano Music Sheet

    How To Read Sheet Music – Piano Theory Lessons

    A piano music sheet is a notation that uses musical symbols to indicate a pitch, an instrumental musical piece, rhythms, or a song. A piano music sheet can be printed or handwritten.

    When they first appeared, piano music sheets were a thing only about the Western classical music.

    Today, its as popular worldwide, with solo singers and music ensembles learning to read the sheet instead of learning piano by the ear.

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    How To Read And Play Rhythms With Syllables

    There are a number of ways we learn how to read and play rhythms. Interestingly, we can make use of various systems such as:

    • The beat number method
    • Gordon Music Learning Method

    To keep track of meter, were going to use the beat number method.

    Here are a couple of guidelines:

    • We count the beats using numbers per bar. For example, we count 4/4 as 1-2-3-4, 3/4 as 1-2-3, etc.
    • Any note that receives the beat is designated the number. For example, in 4/4, we count quarter note beats 1-2-3-4.
    • When we subdivide the beat into 2, we recite the number followed by & . In 4/4, we count eighth notes as 1-& -2-& -3-& -4-& .
    • Subdividing the beat into 4 means we count the first note of the beat with a number and then use e-& -uh as the next four. In this case, 16th notes in 4/4 means we count them 1-e-& -uh, 2-e-& -uh, 3-e-& -uh, 4-e-& -uh.
    • To count triplets, we recite the number for the note on the beat then trip-let for the 2nd and 3rd notes. So, in a measure of 4/4,we count triplets as 1-trip-let, 2-trip-let, 3-trip-let. 4-trip-let.

    Lets review our rhythm tree to see these syllables in action:

    You can start practicing by counting along the clicks of a metronome. One of the best metronome apps for this purpose is the Metronome by Soundbrenner.

    Lets apply this concept to figure out how to play the rhythm for What A Friend We Have In Jesus:

    Another great app you can use to learn how to read rhythms is Rhythm Lab.

    Practice On Both Clefs

    Learning piano requires being able to read both the treble and bass clef fluently. While its easy enough to learn one or the other, it can be a bit brain-splitting to do them both at the same time.

    Weve already talked about FACE and Every Good Boy Does Fine. You should be pretty comfortable with the treble clef, at this point.

    The bass clef simply shifts everything down two steps. The mnemonic All Cars Eat Gas will help you remember the spaces of the bass clef. Good Boys Do Fine Always will help you remember the lines.

    Now that youre aware of the note names, start off by practicing each clef independently. Develop a routine for memorizing and sight-reading treble clef note names with your right hand.

    Then do the same thing with the left hand for the bass clef.

    As we mentioned above, the notes that fall below the Middle C make up the Bass clef. To remain consistent with this learning to read music guide, lets also start from the bottom.

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    The Hands On The Staves

    On the score, the first step to do is to identify where are the hands. Indeed, each hand will have its own space on the sheet music and you will then be able to easily differentiate the notes you will have to play with the left hand from those of the right hand.

    On the score, you can see that there are two different staves, each consisting of 5 lines. The top staff is called the treble clef and is usually played with the right hand. The bottom staff is called the bass clef and is generally played with the left hand.

    If you want to start by working only on the right hand of a song, then you should concentrate only on the notes present on the treble clef.

    Moving On The Bass Clef

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    Youve started doing battle with the treble stave and now its time to drop down a line, and pay attention to the bass stave.

    Working from bottom to top again, well use another mnemonic to help you:

    1st line G Good

    4th line F Favor

    5th line A Always

    Its important again to learn middle C. This time its on its own ledger line above the stave. This is the same note as the middle C that sits on a ledger line below the Treble stave.

    We mentioned earlier its also called the F Clef. This is because the symbol starts on the F line fixing its position.

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    Reading Sheet Music: Why Is It Important

    There are plenty of reasons why you should at least try to learn how to read sheet music. Knowledge about sheet music allows you to see every detail you need to play a piece perfectly. It also lets you achieve a deeper understanding of the kind of music you are interested in.

    Here are some other benefits of knowing how to read sheet music:

    • It will allow you to play pieces you like perfectly. If you do not know how to read music, there is a very high possibility that you are not playing the pieces you like correctly. Knowing how to read music eliminates the mistakes and lets you focus on improvements, instead.
    • It will allow you to play pieces you have not even heard of. As a musician, there will be times when you will have to play pieces that are unfamiliar to you. If you do not know how to read sheet music, this would be impossible to achieve. If you do, then you wont have trouble playing that piece, no matter the level of knowledge you have on it.
    • It will improve your ability to play with others. Ever seen an orchestra? Notice how the members still refer to music sheets for guidance even though they are already experts? The reason behind this is that music sheets allow you to play in sync with other musicians. It contains information about the rhythm and tempo and helps you avoid confusion.
    • It allows you to compose your own music. It can be quite difficult to remember original music if you do not know how to write it down. Auditory memory can only go so far after all.

    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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    The Middle Of The Piano

    The middle of the piano is called middle C. It is also called so because it lies in the middle of the Grand Staff. It is one line below the treble clef and one line above the top line of the bass clef. We often think of Middle C as being the white key between the left hand and the right hand. It is below all the treble clef notes, and above the bar lines of the bass clef notes, sitting on a ledger line.

    Reading notes is simple! Here it is shown on the grand staff. These are also the notes of the C Major Scale. This will be very important for reading easy piano sheet music. A great place to find piano sheet music for beginners is the Skoove App.

    How To Read Sheet Music For Piano

    How to Read Sheet Music in One Easy Lesson

    Learning how to read sheet music for piano can be quite daunting at first because it looks like a series of lots of lines and dots with several random symbols thrown in for good measure.

    The key thing to remember is that piano music simply uses the basic elements of sheet music it just has a lot of them because a piano player has 2 hands and a total of 10 fingers and therefore the potential to play a lot of notes at any one time.

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    Is There A Wrong Way To Play Piano

    So, absolutely, there are correct and incorrect methods of learning to play the piano. Do not be disheartened if someone else uses an approach that you find to be more effective. The distinction between right and wrong is more subjective when it comes to learning to play the piano, and what works for one person may not necessarily work for someone else.

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