Get ready to put you language skills to the test because you came here to learn to read piano music. This is one of the most important piano lessons you can ever master. Of course you could learn to play piano by ear but this post will focus on your mind power.
After you master this lesson, refer to the post How to Play Piano – Easy Piano Lessons to further your experience and gain some more insight. Depending on your piano skills already, this is a piano lesson beginners to music literacy can benefit most from. I recommend you use easy piano sheet music to follow this lesson. Well, those notes aren’t going to read themselves!
If you don’t have easy piano sheet music, Sheet Music Plus will make your life easier. There is a link to the article for you above! You’ll need them if your going to play Shallow from a star is born , someday!
HEADS UP! This blog uses piano language. The language that all pianists magically use to telepathically communicate with each other!
New to This? No Treble!
Objective No.1: Don’t think too much!
Some people are intimidated when they try to read piano music and interpret it. To simplify this task a little, you must understand one thing. The notes on the staff tell your fingers where they belong on the keyboard. The staff refers to the lines and spaces where notes are played.
In piano, there are two clefs:
Treble – represents the right hand
Bass – Represents the left hand
For now, let’s just focus on the treble clef and the motion of the right hand.
All because you can read the music notes, doesn’t mean your hands will just cooperate. Music comes to people in different ways. Many people can grasp music with little effort, while others will need some guidance. It depends on your learning patterns and styles. Reading piano notes typically comes easier to visual learners. If you find this difficult or frustrating, don’t give up!
The Alphabet Comes in Handy
The piano is made up of notes which are given letter names in the order of ABCDEFGA. From A to A is called an octave. The notes are the same but the tone is different. Once you know this you can apply that knowledge to the next step. There are 5 lines on the staff and each line gets a letter. From the bottom to the top it reads EGBDF. You can think of an easier way to remember that by using a phrase like Every Good Boat Does Float.
Obviously, composers didn’t want to waste perfectly good space on the paper so they put notes in-between the lines. From the bottom to the top it reads FACE. Just remember that everybody has a FACE and you’ll do fine. If you put these notes all together, you will read EFGABCDE.
Memory and Practice are Key
If you’ve got the hang of this, just work on memorizing this as it will be well worth your time. Sometimes I sit there and look at the notes and say wait…E….F? It helps to know them for memory so you don’t have to stop every time you hit a bump in the road. Memory is key here, so a bit of mind power never hurts.
Remember that practice makes perfect, so if you can’t get the hang of it right away, don’t worry too much.
Now… you might be tempted to look at your hands. This is helpful in the beginning, but it only compounds the issue down the road. It will save you time and energy if you can learn simple melodies and play them without looking. Some ideas could be Mary Had A Little Lamb or the Elder Scrolls melody or Du Hast Mich. No…nevermind don’t play anything like that…
The best pianists know how to feel the keyboard and not always look. I was always taught to cover my hands with a towel if looking down was a consistent issue. Once you’ve mastered these piano lessons, you will be ready to graduate to the bass clef!
The Bass of Music
The bass clef shows notes played primarily by the left hand. Of course, whoever designed music had to make it as difficult as possible…Why couldn’t the clefs just be the same? It might sound difficult but once you see that the bass clef notes are just 2 notes higher than the treble clef, it gets much simpler!
In the bass clef the notes on the lines read from bottom to top GBDFA. A neat saying to remember is Good Boats Do Float Always. The concept is the same here, but it can still be tricky. I suggest you don’t read both clefs at the same time in order to avoid confusion, but whatever floats your boat…
Now, try the melodies that you mastered in the treble clef down on the bass clef with your left hand. Challenging eh?
Remember to use all five fingers! It is tempting to move your fingers in awkward positions to hit a note but this will slow your progress. Most sheet music has something we call finger markings or fingering…but I much prefer finger markings for obvious reasons.. This is when the number of the appropriate finger is placed above the note.
If you set your hands on a flat surface, they will be marked as follows: (starting with your left hand pinky) 54321-12345 (ending with your right hand pinky). The good thing about this is that the finger markings never change, so 5 will always mean pinky and 1 will always mean thumb! This knowledge will come in handy when you’re going to play Chopin someday.
What Did You Take From All This???
There is no shortage of the possibilities that a musician can experience once these lessons are mastered. Proficiency is key to getting maximum enjoyment from the piano music you play. You may even graduate to composing your very own music and sharing it with others. Remember that this skill comes differently to all musicians and will take practice and dedication no matter what.
If you are not the visual learning type, you can learn to play piano by ear. You could become adept in music theory (what this article covered) or playing by ear. The best way, by far, to practice is to use easy piano sheet music and play SLOWLY.
Don’t forget to read the article Learn How to Play Piano – Easy Piano Lessons for more instuctions and videos! Also, dont forget to read up on how Sheet Music Plus Piano will make your life much easier.
As always, social engagement is important to this community. Feel free to provide your experience on this topic in the comments section below and help your fellow pianists out!
Now, you can Hit that Treble!