Table of Contents
Sheet music looks like Greek to a beginning piano student. The horizontal lines stretching the width of the page, the dots and lines, and the unusual symbols all make sheet music seem so confusing.
If a beginner wants to learn to read piano music, where would they start?
Well, once you learn the basics, reading sheet music and understanding piano is actually very simple. Let’s take a look at some of piano music basics.
At the end of the article, you may not be ready for a piano recital, but you will at least know the meaning of the lines and dots. You will also know how to use these symbols to play the piano.
Okay? Let’s start now.
A B C D E F G
This is a very simple, seven letter alphabet that enables you to learn to play the piano.
Once you’ve learned these seven letters, they just repeat going up the piano and become higher with every step.
Are you ready to begin playing the piano? If you are, you should know that on the 88-key piano, the first note is A, then B, then C and so forth. We are only using the seven letters so when you reach G, you will start over again with A.
Let’s try. Start with A and work your way up the entire keyboard.
Your last note should be the letter C at the end of the keyboard. If that’s what you had, you did a great job. If you did not end on the letter C, please try again. Check and be sure how many keys your keyboard has. If you have a 61-key keyboard, you will start on C and end on C.
So, playing all the keys in order was an easy task. Let’s dare to do more – try to play all the C’s on the keyboard. Let’s use the black keys as our guide. Locate the group of two black keys. The C key is located just left of the two black keys.
The next step is playing all the D’s. You can easily locate D. Find the groups of two black keys. The white key in the middle is D.
Now let’s find E. Locate the groups of two black keys again. The white key to the left of the two black keys is E.
To locate F, we have to find the three black keys. F is the key to the left of this group of three black keys. When you have a question about key location, refer to the keyboard diagram to be sure you are playing the correct key on the piano for each of the named notes.
The five horizontal lines on the sheet music may be called the “staff” or the “stave”. We will use the term stave.
These five horizontal lines that make up the stave are where we will write the notes to be played on the piano.
Right Hand Piano Notes
To begin, we will name the right hand stave notes. Another name for this stave is the treble stave. This stave is located above the Bass Stave which is where the left hand notes are written.
Because the stave have 5 lines, we can have 5 unique notes written on each line. The note is written on the stave so the line runs through the middle of note. If we begin naming the notes starting at the bottom line, we have E G B D F.
While it may be difficult to remember just a series of random letter, when you make it into an acronym, it is easier.
Here’s the acronym. In this case, it is a simple rhyme.
Rhyme for Naming Lines for the Right Hand:
This little rhyme makes the notes much easier to remember.
When looking at the five horizontal lines, you notice that this arrangement creates 4 spaces. The names of the notes in the spaces spell the word “FACE.” There no saying or rhyme, the names of the notes simply spell out the word – Simple!
Left Hand Piano Notes
The left hand stave holds the notes for the left hand. The name of this stave is the Bass Stave. This stave also has 4 spaces and 5 lines. However, the notes on this stave are named differently.
G B D F A are the notes on the left hand stave. There is a catchy rhyme to remember these notes.
Just like the treble staff, the names of the notes on the spaces are different. The spaces hold A C E G.
The helping rhyme for the spaces on the bass stave is:
Playing the Notes on the Sheet
We have discussed the names of the notes on both staves – the treble stave (right hand) and the bass stave (left hand).
Even though you have the rhymes and acronyms, you probably do not know these from memory. Now we need to learn to determine which keys to press on the piano. You just learned that the piano’s white keys are made up of just 7 notes used repeatedly.
In music, you will notice a lot more C, D, E, and so forth. Anytime you question the location of a note, refer to a keyboard diagram.
Perhaps you feel that even though we have gone over the keys, you still don’t know them from memry.
That is a very common feeling at this point so don’t worry. Who knew that learning a rhyme or an acronym could be so difficult to translate into playing piano keys. Because playing the piano is a skill, it is difficult to find a way to cheat or a quick way to learn the stave notes.
Learning to play the piano takes practice, going over the same thing multiple times, and a very strong desire to learn. However, there are some things that can make piano playing more enjoyable.
Piano Note Flashcards
Despite the technology right at our fingertips, using a set of basic flashcards is still a very effective way to learn. Piano flashcards can be made easily or purchased at a low cost.
Flash cards may be used in two ways. First, you can use them while at the piano to aid in the identification of a note and playing it. Away from the piano, they are useful for memorizing the notes and their placement on the stave.
Software for Chords and Note Names
Even though flashcards can be fun and simply, apps and software still provides a great way to learn piano. Today’s software makes learning fun!
Learning Piano as an Adult vs Learning Piano as a Child
Curiously, one would like as if an adult music learning learns in the same ways a child music learner does?
Basically, No. The adult and the child have different levels of maturity and interest.
Let look at several reasons and ways in which adult learners different from young learners.
- Pay greater attention to detail and are careful not to make mistakes. This causes adult learners to be more hesitant when first learning to play.
- Strike the keys differently often because of great muscle tension.
- Desire independent, rational explanations about everything.
- Attend to a task for longer period of time.
- Have the willingness to attempt something new and different with being aware of their mistakes or wondering what others think.
- Use easy, fluid motions.
- Often attempt things that they may not fully understand but they’re willing to give it a try.
- May lack the desire to participate in rigorous practice except during instruction.
- May not attend to the same information for very long so changing activities frequently is helpful.
The differences in learning styles between adult learners and young learners will impact their ability to read music notes. Young learners absorb much knowledge and technique just from observing others. They are not very aware of how others perceive them. In order to keep the young learner focused a variety of activities and information must be provided. Teaching a large amount of information at once is possible with a young learner.
Young learners enjoy a fast pace and will benefit from making learning fun. Anytime a game environment that involves computer applications or reward/progress charts will help young learners move forward in their learning.
When working with adult learners, a more organized approach to learning will be more efficient and effective. When adult learners use a plan, they are less likely to become discouraged or feel overwhelmed. Adults are more aware of themselves and tend to care more about the reaction of others. An organized approach appeals to the adults’ desire to understand everything completely as they progress to the next level.
Reading Piano Notes – Practice Makes Perfect
Effective instruction using engaging methods will definitely help, but in order to master reading piano notes, you must commit to learning.
You will need to practice reading sheet music daily. A minimum of 15 minutes studying the Treble stave and its notes will be required. An additional 15 minutes will be needed as you study the Bass stave and its notes. Also, during this time you need to locate and strike each note on the piano.
By committing to daily practice, soon the sheet music that once look foreign to you will be very easy.