Learning how to read music can seem harder than it is. It is a bit like learning a new language, but actually not quite as hard though. Think of it like an orange with many parts that make up the whole. Make sure to study one part at a time, not all at once!
Learning to read music while playing an instrument is easier because you can practice and try everything you learn.
Learning by actively doing is as always, the best way.
But even if you do not play an instrument, you can use the one instrument you always carry with you- your voice.
Studying music theory only in “theory” in your head, is not so effective, but using an instrument and/or your own voice will make everything more logical and easy to both understand and remember.
The absolute easiest instrument to help you learn music theory is the piano keyboard.
You do not need to be a pianist, or even learn to play the piano, but having a keyboard either as a picture or a real piano, will help you to easily see the notes and the relationship between them on the keyboard.
Here is a free printable piano keyboard chart to place behind the keys of a keyboard or piano for a quick reference of the keys and note names.
Using your voice in pitch, rhythm and interval ear training is important to be able to internalize also how it “feels” inside.
For example; to sing a blues scale will give you the “Aha!” – feeling, not just by looking at one, no matter how much you think you “get it”.
But- what if I have a terrible voice and I hate singing!?
You don’t have to have a great voice, and you don’t have to love singing to learn how to read music.
In music theory the voice is used as a tool to understand concepts of music better, not to learn singing. For that you may take singing lessons if you like!
For learning how to read music in the best way, you will need to use as many of your senses as possible:
Your ears to listen, you eyes to read, your voice and/or an instrument to feel, some brains and a good sense of humor is great too!
Music consists of three main elements:
Although they all make up beautiful music, it is a good
idea to focus first on one element at a time as you begin to learn how to read music notes. Go to
How to Read Music Notes for more tips.
Reading music as you play or sing a piece for the first time is called music sight reading or prim a’ vista.
You can improve your sight reading
with simple exercises. Done every day they can take you from
“stumbling” through a score to fluently reading music as you play. Here are lessons to make you a better sight reader:
The piano uses a grand staff. This consists of two staves connected with a brace. When you play the piano, or the harp, you actually read two staves simultaneously!
Compared to most other instruments that only use one staff, pianists needs some clever techniques to make note reading easier.
There are several forms of sheet music available. How the sheet music is written depends on for what instrument it is for. Let’s take a look at some different types of sheet music and how to read them.
There is some excellent music software available today to help you learn note reading. Here is a selection of top music reading software programs.