? asked in Arts & HumanitiesPerforming Arts · 1 decade ago

Reading Piano sheet music.?

I'm new and trying hard to understand... I just dont get it,, i've learned songs just by ear and its hard to with reg. songs any tips on reading the sheet music. im going to start piano lessions but i want to know some stuff before i start.

6 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Elizabeth, here are some suggestions that may help...

    Reading music is not at all difficult if you "divide and conquer."

    For people who have natural musical talent, (those who can learn "by ear") reading music sometimes seems counterintuitive and tedious. That is one reason it SEEMS difficult. Learning to read music is easier than reading words, but it is too slow for those who have talent... at first!

    Another reason reading music SEEMS confusing is because you are really doing several things at once:

    You are dividing time, (reading rhythms)

    You are reading notes (reading pitches)

    You are playing (physically manipulating your instrument)

    When we sight-read, we feel the pressure of time, because we play in musical time. As a person who can already play some, you are hyper aware of this problem. In turn, that creates a sense of anxiety.

    The suggestions that follow will help you short-circuit that anxiety. You can circumvent the multiple sources of confusion by attacking them one at a time.

    As a person with some talent, you have focused on the physical part of playing, which is OK. However, you have not learned to recognize the patterns that make music work. That is the true source of your difficulties.

    With that background information, here are the tricks and tips that help my students.

    First, you learned to talk before you learned to read. Therefore, you need to learn some basic grammar and vocabulary of music. That means learning to play scales and simple triads (chords) in all keys first!

    That eliminates a great deal of the frustration of learning music. Obviously, you cannot spell "C-A-T" until you know the sounds and names of those letters. You also have to know how those sounds go together to create a whole word. It helps if you can associate that word with the thing it represents.

    Music is like that too. You must be able to play all the basic sounds with relative ease, know how those sounds typically work together, and then have a concept of how those individual "packets" of sounds ( like words) fit together to create musical phrases. (Like sentences.)

    Next, divide and conquer...

    Do NOT try to read both pitches and rhythms at the same time. In fact, you should not even attempt to do either of those things with your instrument.

    Select a time of day when you are alert and have some privacy. Get out your music and read ONLY the rhythms. That’s right. No instrument. No notes. Just tap or clap out the rhythms as best you can.

    This type of practice creates a feeling of familiarity with the rhythm first. Rhythm is the primary component of music. Reading rhythms naturally and easily is the biggest obstacle for most students.

    I have noticed that many professional drummers are good sight-readers. That is because they concentrate only on rhythm, not pitches at the same time. So, there's your clue... focus on rhythm ONLY first.

    Next, you must be able to identify whole groups of notes in the same way you read words. You do not read individual letter in words do you? You actually read entire words, phrases or even sentences as a single coherent idea. The same things are true in music.

    Instead of focusing on the letter names one-at-a-time (the dumb, slow, old, boring, tedious, frustrating way), Look for the intervals between notes.

    Practice identifying the distance between notes. (I.e. seconds, thirds, fourths, fifths etc.)

    Notice when a group of notes is in a scalar passage. ( ,C,D, E, F, G)

    Make sure you see the relationship to the root of the scale. For instance, the notes I just used for and example in the key of C would be equivalent to the simple scale-tone numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 = C, D,E, F, G... see?

    Be sure you are aware of the whole-steps and half steps between certain tones. For instance, in Major keys, the half-steps are always between 3 & 4, (and) 7 & 8.

    All the other scale tones are a whole-step apart.

    Putting it all together….

    After you can read the rhythm, (away from the performance anxiety of your instrument)

    After you can see the notes (not just naming the letters, but also seeing whole groups of notes as separate ideas… seeing their relationships by simple counting)

    After you are aware of the whole-steps and half steps...

    THEN (and only then) slowly assemble your newfound reading knowledge.

    I have found that even the most torpid guitarists can learn to read this way. On piano, it is even easier.

    One more very useful concept...

    When you learned to read words, you practiced writing words every day. Well, that same thing applies to music!

    Practice writing ONLY rhythms.

    Practice writing logical basic groups of notes:

    Ascending from the root,

    Ascending and descending from the 3rd to the 5th,

    Ascending and descending from the 5th to the octave.

    Write out arpeggios for all the triad chords in every key:

    C major C, E, G

    F Major F A C. etc

    Don't forget to include minor diatonic chords too.

    Write out the I, ii, iii, IV, V, vii, and vii dim triads.

    As you learn to write, you also learn to recognize the intervals, chords, scales and melodic concepts that make music work.

    Honestly, if you think about it, reading music is ridiculously easy, the problem is that you have some talent; talented people are impatient by nature. This process of learning any new language is always a trifle tedious. It can be very frustrating if you are already good at learning by ear.

    The secret is patience and focusing on one element at a time.

    Break the overall task down into its basic components. Music has rhythm, duration, pitch, tonal relationships.

    Practice seeing and comprehending those things individually.

    Rhythm first,

    Pitches by letter-names

    Pitches by relationship, to each other and to the key (tonal center) ( these are always described by simple numbers-NOT MATH !!! ….just simple counting!)

    Do all of that work AWAY from your instrument. Do not try to conquer the technical problems of playing and the multiple elements of reading simultaneously .

    Once you are confident of rhythm,

    learn the pitches by letter-name,

    see whole phrases as individual concepts,

    believe me, you will have a lot more fun!

    Reading music is just like learning any other language. You can learn the basics very quickly. To be good at it, you need to practice a little everyday, for a period of time.

    Please try these suggestions. Every single one of my students who has tried them has made dramatic improvement very rapidly.

    I sincerely hope these suggestions help you as they have many others

    Best Wishes and Keep Playing!

    Source(s): Decades of teaching music the natural way
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    OK so the joke goes. . . How do you get a guitarist to stop playing? Put sheet music in front of him/her. teehee

    But enough of that. Playing by ear is a wonderful skill and you should be happy about it. Remember that when you learned to read it took a while and you had to sound out words etc.? Music is the same. The more you do it, the better you will get until you don't even think about it anymore.

    I can write in prose how to read music but it will involve several chapters and is I feel a bit more complex than what Yahoo answers is equipped to handle. Try finding a good beginning piano book and reading the beginning. At first you will need to take time and count lines and spaces to know which note to play (remember the first 7 letters of the alphabet repeat over and over) but before you know it you will know by looking.

    You may check to see if About.com or another website has note reading basics. Just be patient. If you have a good piano teacher they should have you reading in no time.

  • 1 decade ago

    You should start by knowing the value of each note and rest, what and where each note is on the staff, and counting music.

    It is good you are taking lessons. Once you learn, it will be easy. You will also learn good techniques too which are important because in piano lessons, you build skill upon skill.

    When you go to your lessons, be serious and PRACTICE.

    Lessons are not cheap so don't waste money by not practicing.

    Also, learn the music by reading the music, NOT BY EAR.

    A reputable teacher will notice and say something. Good teachers don't like to give lessons to students who don't practice or think they can play without musical knowledge or reading the music. You are wasting their time and energy as well as your money, if you go to a lesson unprepared by not practicing during the week from lesson to lesson.

    Learning to play well takes time, effort, patience, and much dedication to the keyboard.

    A bad teacher will let you do anything and take your money.

    Learning from a reputable teacher gives you good musical skills and a good base to draw from especially if you have to change teachers at some point.

    Playing piano or instrument is such an ice breaker socially, especially in college or as an adult.

    Go for it.

    Be the best musician you can.

    Good luck.

  • 1 decade ago

    There's way too much to tell you here ! Why not go on google and type in how to become familiar with reading piano music, I did this and a lot of sites came up and I checked some of them out, these sites could help you get familiar with everything to do with reading piano music, this could help you to learn the notes and there value, the rests, and all the other things that you have to know when reading music, give it a try, at least it will make you familiar with all the different symbols, clefs, and musical terms.

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    5 years ago

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