How to Read Sheet Music & Notation

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So what happens when you want to learn a song and all you have is the sheet music? You learn how to read it! Here are the basics for an instrument like the piano.

What you’ll see in sheet music something called a great staff.

It’s got two parts – a top and bottom. The top has a treble clef (representing the higher notes on the keyboard) and the bottom has a bass clef (representing the lower notes on the keyboard.

Piano Staff

The lines and spaces on the staff represent notes on the piano. Let’s start with the treble clef (top staff).

Starting from the bottom line up to the top line, the notes are E – G – B – D – F (remember it using the words “Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge”)

The spaces in between the lines (from bottom to top) represent the notes F – A – C – E (remember it by saying “FACE“).

If you were to draw an invisible line directly in the middle of the treble staff and the bass staff, you’d have a C note (the piano’s middle C to be exact).

Piano Sheet Music

Let’s move on to the bass clef (bottom staff).

Starting from the bottom line up to the top line, the notes are G – B – D – F – A (remember it using the words “Good Boys Don’t Fool Around”).

The spaces in better represent the notes A – C – E – G (remember it using the words “All Cows Eat Grass“)

You need to know about note lengths and values and how to count measures/bars so make sure you check out our music theory section, if you’re not sure of it.

But now that you know the basics of reading sheet music, you can buy some songs you love and slowly learn how to play.

At first you’re going to be doing a lot of “umm. ok what’s this note? Oh a C. And the next note is… D” and slowly piece together a musical phrase in the song you’re studying.

But soon enough, you’ll be able to read sheet music fluently and play any song you can find the notation for.

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Omar Zulfi

Omar Zulfi is a music producer, rapper, singer, songwriter and digital entrepreneur. He is the founder and head writer at Deviant Noise. Learn more about what he's doing by clicking here.