Music Theory for Beginners: Learn to Read Music

Music Theory for Beginners: Learn to Read Music

Learning to play an instrument has a whole slew of benefits for both the body and brain. Children who study music develop stronger language skills, social skills, motor skills, and even benefit from a boost to their IQ!

Music is so powerful that you can enjoy many of these benefits regardless of age. Of course, you’ll have to put in some time and hard work, but eventually, you’ll be tackling those ivories and impressing your friends. 

However, before you can become a famous maestro of the piano, you must first learn to read music. Here are the basics to get you started.

The Note Names

Start by learning the notes. The names are pretty simple as they are the first 7 letters of the alphabet, A, B, C, D, E, F, and G. Each letter name corresponds to a white key on the piano.

You might be thinking, there are far more than 7 keys on the piano! These 7 notes repeat over and over again from one end of the keyboard to the other. 

The Staff

If you look at a sheet of music, you’ll see that the notes are arranged on 5 parallel lines with 4 blank spaces between them. This is called the staff. Each line or blank space corresponds to a specific note. 

The Clefs

There are two main clefs, which represents where on the piano you should choose to play the notes. The symbol for the treble clef kind of looks like a stylized “G” with an almost vertical line through it. The symbol for the bass clef kind of looks like a backward “C” with two dots on the right side. 

The treble clef is generally played by the right hand and used for the higher notes on the piano. The bass clef is generally played by the left hand and used for the lower notes. 

In the treble clef, the lines represent notes E, G, B, D, and F. Music schools such as the Sloan School of Music will teach you to remember the order by using the phrase Every Good Boy Does Fine. The space notes are F, A, C, and E. These are easier to remember since it simply spells FACE.

In the bass clef, the notes are a little different. The lines represent G, B, D, F, and A and the spaces represent A, C, E, and G. The phrases commonly used for these are Good Boys Do Fine Always and All Cows Eat Grass. 

The Note Symbols

The notes are generally written like little circles, but look a little different to denote how long you hold the note. A filled-in circle with a stem is a quarter note that is held for one beat. An open circle with a stem is a half-note that is held for two beats. And an open circle with no stem is a whole note that is held for four beats.

Are You Inspired to Learn to Read Music?

That’s it! These are the basic notes and symbols you need to know to learn to read music. There are more that you’ll learn as you advance in your piano playing skills, but this will get you started.

Check out more of our posts for more informative content!


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