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How to read piano sheet music easily

Learning to play the piano is very challenging as it requires time and dedication. Learning in a self-taught way is even more difficult, especially for kids but there are many learning sites that provide free sheet music for kids, if you analyze it correctly and with patience, reading a score will be much easier than it seems.

The world of sheet music is complex and difficult to understand at first. We could compare it to learning a new language. The language of the musicians is written in scores and the notes that we must play to interpret a piece are written on them. As in any other language, before we begin to speak and formulate sentences, we have to learn some basic knowledge and follow a series of guidelines.

If you want to play the piano in the best possible way, you will have to learn to read sheet music, know its elements (the staff, the notes, the key, the sharps …), and follow its rules. But don’t worry, we are going to make it as easy as possible for you to learn quickly. Keep reading let’s get started!

Learn to read piano sheet music step by step

If we take a first look at a score without prior knowledge, it will seem like an alien language and we will have no idea where to start.

Let’s start with the basics:

The pentagram. Within the score, you will see five lines and four spaces between them. We call this structure a pentagram. Both lines and spaces are used to place notes, and their position will determine the pitch of each note. What determines which note is assigned to each line will be determined by the clef, which we’ll learn about a bit further down. In piano sheet music, you will see that the staves are divided 2 by 2. One for each hand. Being the pentagram above for the right hand and the one below for the left hand.

  • To wit: In addition to the five normal lines, you can also place lines and spaces above and below the staff, drawing short lines as needed to indicate the note.

The key. The name of this element perfectly indicates its importance in the score. The clef is placed at the beginning of the score and indicates in which line or space of the staff each note will be placed. You will recognize these clefs because they are large and occupy the 5 lines of the staff. There are several keys, but luckily, to play the piano, you only need to know two: the treble clef and the bass clef. In most piano sheet music, the treble clef will be associated with the notes you play with your right hand and the bass clef with the left.

The treble clef. This is the most popular clef in music in general and surely you have already heard of it. With this key, the structure of the staff is formed as follows:

Namely: With this key, you can use the G note as a quick reference point. Which is just the note that will appear on the line that crosses the center of the key (the second from the bottom)

The bass clef. If you are a beginner, you may not know this key yet. You’ll recognize it because it looks like an upside-down C with two dots behind the arc. This key gathers the notes like this:

The lines from bottom to top indicate the Sol, Si, Re, Fa, and La tones.

The spaces from bottom to top indicate the tones La, Do, Mi, and Sol.

  • To wit: With this key, you can use the note Fa as a quick reference point. Which is just the note that will appear on the line that crosses the two dots of the key (the second starting from the top)

The key armor. The key signature tells you which notes are going to be played differently during the performance of the score. That is, in the middle of the musical notes (do, re, mi, fa, sol, la and si) there are semitones, which are indicated with # (Sharp) or with b (flat).

You can easily identify the sharps and flats on the keyboard itself: they are the black keys. Sharp means the note goes up a half step, and flat means it goes down a half step. That is, in some notes, the sharp of one can be the flat of another.

Now that you know about semitones, if we go back to the key signature, the sharps and flats symbols that are placed at the beginning of the score will tell you the key, and the lines or spaces on which they appear will tell you that any note at that pitch should be played with its respective sharp or flat.

  • To wit: Sometimes additional sharps or flats can be placed in the score that will alter a single note in particular. You will see these placed next to the note they alter.

The signature of the compass. Together with the key, the compass is fundamental when it comes to understanding the staff and being able to play the piano correctly. The compass indicates the rhythm of the song and the beats/beats a note receives. They are the two numbers that appear at the beginning of the score. The bottom number indicates the type of note that receives a pulse/stroke (below we explain what type of note corresponds to each number) and the number above indicates how many of them there are in each measure.

Namely: In the sheet music you will see that there are vertical lines drawn through the horizontal lines, the space between these lines are the measures. This helps break down the music into various sections.

Now that we are clear about the main elements that develop the structure of the score, we have to know the elements that will give the piano a life of its own.

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