How to Read Music

Many individuals who just started learning piano might not necessarily understand why they should attempt to read music. After all, many very famous musicians have no clue how to recognize notes on a staff and that certainly didn't prevent them from achieving not only a great level of success but also developing amazing musical skills. However, it is important to note that reading music could help you, as a beginner, to familiarize yourself with the instrument and understand what it is that you're doing. Playing by ear is great and can certainly allow you to play all your favorite radio hits, but if you are really interested in learning music - and not only an instrument - and become a more well-rounded musician, read below to understand how reading music can help you.

Learning to Read Music

Reading music, in short, is the art of using sheet music to help you play songs. A sheet music includes a staff, notes, treble and bass clef, etc. To decipher all these symbols, you'll need to have a basic understanding of rhythmic figures (half notes, quarter notes, etc.) as well as knowing the name of the notes based on their position on the staff (the groups of 5 lines on which the notes are drawn). You can easily learn all these basic notions by getting help from a competent teacher or simply by looking up online tutorials or books and methods, for example. It seems overwhelming, and this is why many piano students prefer to learn by ear rather than put the time and effort needed to understand and read sheet music. However, if you are serious about learning piano, reading music will soon become second nature and will allow you to play some of the hardest compositions ever written.

You're just starting to play piano - you probably have little to no knowledge of all these notions aforementioned but more importantly, you are very intimidated by the sight of the instrument itself. There are a lot of white and black keys to choose from and you have no idea where to get started. Traditionally, children (and older students of course) would learn using what is referred to as 'methods'. These are simply books taking you through every steps of learning piano, increasing the difficulty of each piece as you turn the pages. Whether you want to be the next John Lennon and write your own music or dream of playing Rachmaninoff, you need to start somewhere. Reading music will allow you to get started slowly, by playing pieces that are adapted to your level; instead of taking hours and days to figure out a song by ear (which can be equally daunting as a beginner), reading music will allow you to learn short songs found online or in beginner books thus making it more obvious that you improve from one day to the next. This will also help you become more familiar with the instrument and knowing where to place your fingers, the name of the notes on the keyboard, etc.

Reading music can also be necessary depending on the genre of music you are interested in. For example, if you are interested in learning classical music, knowing how to read music is essential. If you've ever listened to classical music, you already know that there is a lot going on in there - playing classical music by ear isn't necessarily the best way to go. The same can actually be said of all music genres - you can learn pop songs and jazz standards by ear, if you are really motivated, however it will most likely take you double the time to learn a few bars.

In short, learning how to read music is a great way for all beginners to not only understand what they are playing, but also to play level-appropriate songs and see improvement quickly, familiarize themselves with the instrument and learn songs in less time than someone playing by ear. Of course, everyone has different learning patterns and abilities, but one thing is for certain: knowing how to read music is a skill that will differentiate you from all the other musicians out there. Think of it as practicing medicine without knowing the name of the human organs! Sheet music is a great tool to use when you start learning piano and the ability to read music will be of tremendous help as you navigate in the world of piano books, sheet music and everything that comes with!

How to Read Music


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