© 2019 by Piano Wings

HOW TO READ SHEET MUSIC

Learn the basics of sheet music and play any music you'd like.

 

A QUICK GUIDE TO READING MUSIC

Reading sheet music might look intimidating. But by the end of this short guide, you'll be able to read and play any song you want to on the piano.

This is a STAFF.

The staff is what we call the place where we put all the notes.
The staff has five lines and four spaces (as labelled). 
Each line and space represents a different note.

Consecutive notes (ex. A, B, C, D) are always either line, space, line, space or space, line, space, line. Consecutive notes never go from space to space or line to line.

This is the TREBLE CLEF. It is usually played with your right hand.

The 5 line notes are E G B D F.
This can be memorized with:

     

“Every Good Boy Does Fine”

The 4 space notes are F A C E.
This can be memorized with:

 

“FACE"

This is the BASS CLEF. It is usually played with your left hand.

The 5 line notes are G B D F A.
This can be memorized with:

     

“Good Boys Do Fine Always”

The 4 space notes are A C E G.
This can be memorized with:

 

“All Cows Eat Grass"

Now that we can read sheet music, below are the piano notes that correspond with the notes on the sheet music.

To find Middle C, look for all the C's on the keyboard and find the C in the very center. Now that you have found Middle C, you can find the rest of the notes relative to that.

Rhythm is a complex topic that I highly recommend watching videos about as a supplement to reading theory. Because of this, here are a few videos that are an excellent introduction to reading rhythm in music:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Utzyi4gfBDE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Bt1BF1PC2k

This is a QUARTER NOTE.

It receives one beat.

This is a HALF NOTE.

It receives two beats.

This is a DOTTED HALF NOTE. It receives three beats.​

This is a WHOLE NOTE.

It receives four beats.

This is an EIGHTH NOTE.

It receives one half of a beat.

This is a SIXTEENTH NOTE.

It receives one fourth of a beat.

This is a DOTTED QUARTER NOTE.

It receives one and a half beat.

To the right is a map showing how each note is somewhat related to each other. 

Two half notes can fit in one whole note.
Since two quarter notes can fit in one half note, four quarter notes can fit in one whole note. 

Again, this may not make much sense, and that is okay. It is recommended that you watch the above videos to get a better sense of rhythm in music.

When eighth notes or sixteenth notes are placed together, they generally are notated with bars like shown at the left.

Notes also have corresponding REST values.

A rest is an interval of silence, or an interval in which you will not play. 

We are finally onto our last topic!

ACCIDENTALS are sharps and flats.

This is a SHARP.

It raises the note one half step.

This is a FLAT.

It lowers the note one half step.

This is a NATURAL.

It keeps the note the same.

Below, you can see how a C# is equivalent to a Db, a D# to an Eb, an F# to a Gb, etc.

Sometimes you’ll see sharps and flats at the beginning of each line, placed right after the treble clef or bass clef sign. This is what we call a KEY SIGNATURE

 

When we see a key signature, this means that all of the notes in that song will have either a sharp or a flat. 

For example, in this key signature, there are four sharps on the notes F, C, G, and D. This tells us that all of the F’s, C’s, G’s, and D’s of the song will have a sharp automatically, even if there is no sharp sign in front of each one.

In this key signature, there are 7 flats on the notes, B, E, A, D, G, C, and F. This tells us that all of the B’s, E’s, A’s, D’s, G’s, C’s, and F’s in the song have a flat. Thankfully, key signatures with 7 flats or sharps are quite rare.

Note: Key signatures can make a song difficult to play, depending on the number of sharps or flats there are. This is why transposed versions of songs are offered, which don’t have any sharps or flats in the key signature.

​Friendly reminder that this is meant to be a very brief overview of music theory and how to read basic sheet music. In reality, music theory is a very complex subject that professionals spend their lives studying. If you would like a more in depth explanation of music theory, and be able to read and play more complex rhythm structures, notes, etc, this website is a great place to get started.

Otherwise, you can get started playing!

Click the button below for a free, easy sheet to get you started. 
 

STAFFS AND READING NOTES

RHYTHM

ACCIDENTALS AND NATURALS

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