Music lessons are offered in our music studios in Coquitlam and Port Moody, and online.
If you have just started to play the piano or if you have been playing for some time but you are slow at reading music, these suggestions may help you read faster and easier.
There are two main areas to work on: (1) reading the pitches and (2) reading the rhythm.
(1) READING THE PITCHES
The ultimate goal is to memorize the position of all notes on the staff lines.
This could be a bit boring to do, but it is the most efficient way of improving your note identification skills. It might take a week or two to memorize all the pitches in the treble and bass clefs but it will remain with you forever.
Everything else we talk about below is to help you with memorizing the pitches.
How to read music faster and easier
a guide for beginners
Learn to quickly identify the intervals between the notes.
You can use the ‘visual’ distance (interval) between the notes to find your next note from the previous note in a melody or to quickly find the notes in a chord.
With 2nds, 4ths, 6ths, and octaves, one note is on a line and the other one is in a space between the lines or the other way around. With 3rds, 5ths, and 7ths, both notes are on the lines or both are in the spaces between the lines.
You can also use the 'visual' distance between the notes to find any note using a reference note that you know.
Use the ‘C’s in five octaves as your reference notes.
You can memorize the position of these five ‘C’s, and use your interval identification skills from the previous paragraph, to find any note on the staff based on the 'visual' distance (interval) between that note and the closest ‘C’ above or below it.
For example the below note is a 3rd above the C in third space of the treble clef so you go 3 notes up from C, starting on C, which means C-D-E. So, this note is E.
Other than these five 'C's, you can also easily remember that G is on the second line of the treble clef (G-clef), and that the lower part of the treble clef swirls around it. Also that F is on the fourth line of the bass clef (F-clef), and that the bass clef wraps around it.
Use words and [funny] sentences to help you remember the note names on the lines or in the spaces.
The first letter of each word in these sentences spells one of the notes. There are four word/sentences for the notes on the lines or in the spaces in the treble and bass clefs:
This method should be used only at the beginning to help you memorize the notes and their positions in the two clefs. Remember that the final goal is to know every note and its position by heart. So don't use this method as your primary tool for a long time.
You can test and practice your note identification skills using this online app:
It is also a good idea to sight read easy music.
It is helpful to sight-read music that is a few levels easier than your current piano playing level.
(2) READING THE RHYTHM (TIMING)
Get familiar with the most common rhythmic patterns.
For rhythm reading, go to this ear-training app (https://ssomus.ca/MusicianshipApp/index.html) and under ‘Rhythm Training’, select ‘1/4 note beats’ and listen to the most common rhythmic combinations and remember how they sound. You can then use your memory of these rhythmic cells to the rhythm in any piece you are playing
Finally here are 2 generic suggestions:
Try to keep your eyes on the score (sheet music).
This helps you not to lose your place in the score and stay visually and mentally prepared for the next notes. In one hand position, you do not need to look at the keyboard to find the keys. With a bit of experience, you do not even always need to look at the keyboard to change the position of your hands.
Do not move you hands before knowing where they should go.
This helps you not to move your hands unnecessarily around the keyboard. You first read the notes and then move your hands to the needed position.
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