Reading sheet music is daunting to many people who want to learn how to play musical instruments. Learning how to read sheet music requires understanding some basic points. You must know five basics before you can play.
Learn the notes on the staff
Before you can play music, first you have to learn the names of the notes on both the lines and the spaces of the staff. To learn them, look at the clef symbol at the beginning of each staff. It tells you the clef of your piece. The treble clef is usually the common clef used for many beginning musicians. For this clef, from bottom to top, the five lines are E-G-B-D-F. Remember, "every good boy does fine." Next, learn the word "face" to know the space notes from bottom to top (F-A-C-E).
Learn the various dividers of the piece
Second, you have to know the basic marks that divide the entire piece into measures and sections. Single vertical lines called bar lines divide the piece into measures. At the end of the piece, there will be an ending bar line formed by a bar line followed closely by a thick vertical line. Some songs will also have one or more pairs of closely spaced double vertical lines that divide the piece into sections.
Learn the time signature
Third, you must know basic information about the overall timing of the song in each measure. At the beginning of the piece, after the clef symbol, look at the two numbers stacked one on top of the other. These numbers are the time signature for the piece. The top number tells you how many beats there will be in one measure. The bottom number tells you what kind of note will get one beat. These numbers along with the time values of the notes show you how to count each measure.
Learn the notes and the rests
Fourth, learn some basic information concerning the time values of various notes and rests. Every note will have an oval note head. It may also have a vertical stem (attached to the note head on the right side of the head in simple songs) and one or more flags (attached to the stem on the side opposite the oval). Based on differing combinations of these parts of the notes, you will play and hold notes for differing numbers of beats. In a song with a time signature of 4/4, here is the duration of four basic notes that you will play:
Besides the accidentals that may be found at the beginning of the piece, accidentals can also occur elsewhere in the piece. Such accidentals only apply for the rest of the measure in which they are found and will be right before the note head whose pitch they alter.
These are only basic points in learning how to read sheet music; you will be learning a lot more as you further increase your ability to play from sheet music. By learning, however, these five basics that you must know before you can play, you will be well on your way to knowing how to read sheet music.
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