Tips for Learning to Read Music

Learning music theory without learning to read music notation is like learning English literature without reading the English language. Lots of musicians are scared of written music because it looks complicated at first glance. However, if you take it in baby steps and put the pieces together, you'll be reading music like a champ in no time.

Here are some aspects of written music to look at first:

The Staff 
The staff is the set of lines on which we write notes. It is the basic medium we write music on, like the canvas of a painter. Learn more about this simple but fundamental element of Learning to read music.

Clefs are the strange little symbols at the beginning of each staff. They provide information such as which instrument might be playing, what range of notes is being used, and how to read the staff.

Note Values
Note values are the duration of a note or how long it lasts in terms of number of beats. Some notes last for several beats (half note) and some last for only a fraction of one beat (sixteenth note). Learning and using these is like learning to count in music.

Time Signatures 
At the beginning of pieces of music we find the Time Signatures. This tells us the meter. Meter is the rhythmic form or structure to a song. The form is repeated in every measure so you could say that each measure is one cycle of the meter.

Key Signatures 
Key signatures tell us the tonality or "key" of a song. It also tells us which notes the song will be using. The more you work with these, the more familiar you get with the range and scale of particular keys.

How Did YOU Learn to Read Music?

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Read Other Visitors' Tips on Reading Music

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Learn rhythm first!! 
When learning to read music don't try to manipulate the pitches and the rhythm at the same time. Learn the rhythm first. Single line rhythm is EASY to …

Visualizing Intervals and Mnemonics 
I'll pretend this is a standard treble clef staff. A treble clef has lines with the notes EGBDF. I remember this with "Every Good Boy Does Fine" The names …

Using Staff Lines as Landmarks for Reading 
When I was first learning to read the music, I used the "FACE" method for the spaces, and the "Every Good Boy Does Fine" method for the lines. But it sometimes …

Learning the Bass Clef Notes Not rated yet
For the left hand of a piano (the bass clef), the way to remember the names of the "spaces" is the sentence "All Cows Eat Grass", working your way from …

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Hope this helps! Practice hard and let me know if you have any questions!

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