How to Read Sheet Music

How to Read Sheet Music: Channel Your Inner Musician with These Simple Steps!

Have you ever heard a song on the radio and thought, “Hey, it’d be really cool to know how to play that.”? Do you have friends who play musical instruments, and you want to get in on the fun? Do you just want to expand your general artistic knowledge? Well, learning the basics of how to read sheet music can help you achieve all of these, and in a shorter amount of time than you might have thought!

At its very simplest, music is a language just like you’d read aloud from a book. The symbols you’ll see on pages of sheet music have been used for hundreds of years. And they represent the pitch, speed and rhythm of the song they convey, as well as expression and techniques used by a musician to play the piece. Think of the notes as the letters, the measures as the words, the phrases as the sentences and so forth. Learning to read music really does open up a whole new world to explore!

Follow our step-by-step introduction to the language of music below, download your FREE tools at the end of this article, and you’ll be playing along in no time at all.

Step 1: Learn the Basic Symbols of Notation

Music is made up of a variety of symbols, the most basic of which are the staff, the clefs and the notes. All music contains these fundamental components, and in order to learn how to read music, you must first familiarize yourself with these basics.

The Staff

The staff consists of five lines and four spaces. Each of those lines and each of those spaces represents a different letter, which in turn represents a note. Those lines and spaces represent notes named A-G, and the note sequence moves alphabetically up the staff.

The-Staff

Treble Clef

There are two main clefs with which to familiarize yourself; the first is a treble clef. The treble clef has the ornamental letter G on the far left side. The G’s inner swoop encircles the “G” line on the staff. The treble clef notates the higher registers of music, so if your instrument has a higher pitch, such as a flute, violin or saxophone, your sheet music is written in the treble clef.  Higher notes on a keyboard also are notated on the treble clef.

The-Treble-Clef

We use common mnemonics to remember the note names for the lines and spaces of the treble clef. For lines, we remember EGBDF by the word cue “Every Good Boy Does Fine.” Similarly for the spaces, FACE is just like the word “face.”

Bass Clef

The line between the two bass clef dots is the “F” line on the bass clef staff, and it’s also referred to as the F clef. The bass clef notates the lower registers of music, so if your instrument has a lower pitch, such as a bassoon, tuba or cello, your sheet music is written in the bass clef. Lower notes on your keyboard also are notated in the bass clef.

The-Bass-Clef

A common mnemonic to remember note names for the lines of the bass clef is: GBDFA “Good Boys Do Fine Always.” And for the spaces: ACEG, “All Cows Eat Grass.”

Notes

Notes placed on the staff tell us which note letter to play on our instrument and how long to play it. There are three parts of each note, the note head, the stem and the flag.

In order to know how to read music, you must learn the parts of a musical note.

Every note has a note head, either filled (black) or open (white). Where the note head sits on the staff (either on a line or a space) determines which note you will play. Sometimes, note heads will sit above or below the five lines and four spaces of a staff. In that case, a line is drawn through the note, above the note or below the note head, to indicate the note letter to play, as in the B and C notes above.

The note stem is a thin line that extends either up or down from the note head. The line extends from the right if pointing upward or from the left if pointing downward. The direction of the line doesn’t affect how you play the note, but serves as a way to make the notes easier to read while allowing them to fit neatly on the staff. As a rule, any notes at or above the B line on the staff have downward pointing stems, those notes below the B line have upward pointing stems.

The note flag is a curvy mark to the right of the note stem. Its purpose is to tell you how long to hold a note. We’ll see below how a single flag shortens the note’s duration, while multiple flags can make it shorter still.

Learn musical note values in order to know how to read music.

Now that you know the parts to each note, we’ll take a closer look at those filled and open note heads discussed above. Whether a note head is filled or open shows us the note’s value, or how long that note should be held. Start with a closed note head with a stem. That’s our quarter note, and it gets one beat. An open note head with a stem is a half note, and it gets two beats. An open note that looks like an “o” without a stem is a whole note, and it gets held for four beats.

You need to learn note values in order to read sheet music.

There are other ways to extend the length of a note. A dot after the note head, for example, adds another half of that note’s duration to it. So, a half note with a dot would equal a half note and a quarter note; a quarter note with a dot equals a quarter plus an eighth note. A tie may also be used to extend a note. Two notes tied together should be held as long as the value of both of those notes together, and ties are commonly used to signify held notes that cross measures or bars.

Learn how to read music by counting musical notes

Learn how to read sheet music by counting musical notes

The opposite may also happen, we can shorten the amount of time a note should be held, relative to the quarter note. Faster notes are signified with either flags, like the ones discussed above, or with beams between the notes. Each flag halves the value of a note, so a single flag signifies 1/2 of a quarter note, a double flag halves that to 1/4 of a quarter note, et cetera. Beams do the same, while allowing us to read the music more clearly and keep the notation less cluttered. As you can see, there’s no difference in how you count the eighth and 16th notes above. Follow along with the sheet music for “Alouette” to see how beams organize notes!

But what happens when there isn’t a note taking up each beat? It’s easy, we take a rest! A rest, just like a note, shows us how long it should be held based on its shape. See how whole and quarter rests are used in the song “Here We Go Looby-Loo.”

Learn how to read sheet music with rests

Step 2: Pick Up the Beat

In order to play music, you need to know its meter, the beat you use when dancing, clapping or tapping your foot along with a song. When reading music, the meter is presented similar to a fraction, with a top number and a bottom number, we call this the song’s time signature. The top number tells you how many beats to a measure, the space of staff in between each vertical line (called a bar). The bottom number tells you the note value for a single beat, the pulse your foot taps along with while listening.
Learn how to play sheet music with a 4/4 time signature.

In the example above, the time signature is 4/4, meaning there are 4 beats per bar and that every quarter note gets one beat. Click here to listen to sheet music written in 4/4 time, and try counting along 1,2,3,4 – 1,2,3,4 with the beat numbers above.
In the example below, the time signature is 3/4, meaning there are 3 beats per bar and that every quarter note gets one beat. Click here to listen to sheet music written in 3/4 time, try counting the beats, 1,2,3 – 1,2,3.

Learn how to read sheet music with a 3/4 time signature.

Let’s look again at the above examples, notice that even though the 4/4 time signature in “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” calls for 4 beats per bar, there aren’t 4 notes in second bar? That’s because you have two quarter notes and one half note, which added together equal 4 beats.

In addition to your note values and time signature, the last piece to feeling the rhythm is knowing your tempo, or beats per minute. Tempo tells you how fast or slow a piece is intended to be played, and often is shown at the top of a piece of sheet music. A tempo of, say 60 BPM (beats per minute) would mean you’d play 60 of the signified notes every minute or a single note every second. Likewise, a tempo of 120 would double the speed at 2 notes every second.  You may also see Italian words like “Largo,” “Allegro” or “Presto” at the top of your sheet music, which signify common tempos. Musicians use a tool, called a metronome, to help them keep tempo while practicing a new piece. Click here to see an online metronome tool, and click on the circles next to the BPM values to see how a tempo can speed up and slow down.

Tempo examples you might come across when learning how to play sheet music.

Step 3: Play a Melody

Congratulations, you’re almost on your way to reading music! First, let’s look at scales. A scale is made of eight consecutive notes, for example, the C major scale is composed of C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C. The interval between the first note of your C major scale and the last is an example of an octave. The C major scale is very important to practice, since once you have the C scale down, the other major scales will start to fall into place. Each of the notes of a C major scale corresponds with a white key on your keyboard. Here’s how a C major scale looks on a staff and how that corresponds to the keys on your keyboard:

Learn how to play a scale

How to play a C scale on the piano

You’ll notice that as the notes ascend the staff, and move to the right on your keyboard, the pitch of the notes gets higher. But, what about the black keys? Musically, whole tones, or whole steps between the note letters, would limit the sounds we’re able to produce on our instruments. Let’s consider the C major scale you just learned to play. The distance between the C and the D keys in your C scale is a whole step, however the distance between the E and the F keys in your C scale is a half step. Do you see the difference? The E and the F keys don’t have a black key in between them, thus they’re just a half step away from one another. Every major scale you’ll play on a keyboard has the same pattern, whole-whole-half-whole-whole-whole-half. There are many other types of scales, each with unique sounds, like minor scales, modal scales and more that you’ll come across later on, but for now let’s focus just on major scales and the major scale pattern. Look at the C major scale again on the keyboard below.

Steps-on-a-Keyboard

Semitones, or half-steps on the keyboard, allow us to write an infinite variety of sounds into music. A sharp, denoted by the ♯ symbol, means that note is a semitone (or half step) higher than the note head to its right on sheet music. Conversely, a flat, denoted by a ♭ symbol, means the note is a semitone lower than the note head to its right. You’ll notice on the keyboard picture and notated staff below, showing each half step between the C and the E notes, that whether you use the sharp or the flat of a note depends on whether you’re moving up or down the keyboard.

Learn how to read sheet music using sharp notes

Learn how to read sheet music using flat notes.

There’s one more symbol to learn regarding semitones, and that’s the natural, denoted by a ♮. If a note is sharp or flat, that sharp or flat extends throughout the measure, unless there’s a natural symbol. A natural  cancels a sharp or flat within a measure or a song. Here’s what playing C to E would look like with natural symbols.

How to read sheet music with natural symbols.

Finally, in order to read music, you’ll need to understand key signatures. You actually already know one key signature, the key of C! The C major scale you learned above was in the key of C. Scales are named after their tonic, the preeminent note within the scale, and the tonic determines what key you play in. You can start a major scale on any note, so long as you follow the whole-whole-half-whole-whole-whole-half pattern. Now, following that pattern in keys other than the key of C will require you to use sharps and flats. Since that’s the case, we place the sharps or flats for your song’s key signature right before the meter, after the clef, on your sheet music. That tells you to maintain those sharps or flats throughout the music, unless of course there’s a natural symbol to override it. You will begin to recognize the key signatures of pieces based on what sharps or flats are shown. Here’s a quick glimpse at some key signatures using sharps and flats:

Learn how to read sheet music with sharp key signatures.

Learn how to play sheet music with flat key signatures.

Step 4: Print Out Your FREE Tools!

We hope you’re excited to start reading music! In order to help you along on your musical journey, we’ve created a few FREE tools to start practicing with.

First, we’re offering you a FREE Beginner Notes download! Click here for the sheet music to “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” just add the free song to your cart and proceed through checkout to claim your copy, and be sure to take a look at our huge Beginner Notes sheet music assortment, all of which you’ll be able to play using the steps above. Play current hits like “Happy” by Pharrell Williams, “Let It Go” from ‘Frozen’ and “Say Something” by A Great Big World, just to name a few. We’re adding NEW Beginner Notes daily, so be sure to check back often and learn to play all your favorite songs!

We’ve also created a handy guide for lettering the keys on your keyboard or piano. Download your Keyboard Note Guide here, to print, fold and place on your keyboard. Once you become familiar with the keys, you can easily remove it and continue to strengthen your note-reading skills.

For those who don’t have access to a keyboard, you can download a free keyboard app for your iPad here, or a free Android keyboard app here. Don’t forget to download your Musicnotes Decks: Music Flash Cards app for iPhone and iPad as well. For just $2.99 you’ll receive three decks of flash cards, including music symbols, two full octaves of treble clef notes and two octaves of bass clef notes.

Good luck, and most importantly, have fun!

Leave a Reply

366 comments

    • Roberts

      -
      -20

      Learning the piano was a life goal of mine. I had tried learning at various times of my life but I felt the prices of lessons were too expensive for the progress I was making so I gave up on each occasion. However, About a year ago I came across a program that taught me how to learn piano myself through online lessons which not only was a hell of a lot cheaper but it allowed me to become a very advanced pianist in just a month of following the program. If you are interested in learning piano refer this guide as well >>( go2l.ink/piano ) <<
      One of the best guide in online. All the best have a great day

  1. I appreciated the help! Though, I recommend that you leave a part for note order, and brass instruments. It was really helpful, and I recommend this site. It helped me a lot, because before i read the steps on the site, I was clueless about reading music. I had no idea how until now. Thanks! I rate this site 4 stars!

    • I think it needs a section just for trumpets, trombone, tuba, French horn, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, and flute.

      • I’m writing an easier way to learn and memorize music in an effective way, I’ve been a trumpet teacher for 10 years!
        Follow my blog memorymusic.it. it’s going to be translated in January 2016, but until that moment we can stay in touch using info@memorymusic.it

      • turockian

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        -85

        Are you a complete buffoon? It is basic music reading/theory. It can be applied to any instrument. Learn your instument then you’ll understand it better.

      • turockian

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        -81

        Angel, Are you a complete buffoon? It is basic music reading/theory. It can be applied to any instrument. Learn your instument then you’ll understand it better.

    • syarah

      Nothing good to say don’t say anything…

    • randomdude

      Watch the profanity man!

    • Kylie

      If you feel this site has bad information then why are you on it and looking through it in the first place?

  2. For days i have been hitting my head against a wall I am enrolled in sight signing in college and this is the best help i have received. you really make things clear.

  3. Pingback: Ear Training | musicalthoughtblog

  4. Richard

    Have a 9year granddaughter who has learned to play the piano by her self and would like to read music
    to play right

    • I’m not a saint oh not at all but what I did what I did it wasn’t cruel and I sware that will never do it again to you youuuuu yeahhhhhh

      • Alfred

        Oh why?

    • Alfred

      That’s really great for her you much be proud of Her…..

    • Jill Callahan

      Andrew, not nice at all! What is your problem? Please move on because nobody cares about your negativity!!

    • Kylie

      Be more mature please this site is for people trying to learn not to be harassed or ridiculed.

  5. arashi

    it’s very detailed.. for a beginner like me.. it helps because i really need to understand the basic first. Looking forward for more information that could help us. :) I’ll play for you someday guys ;) haha. thank you very much!

    by the way do you have the song “Niji” of Ninomiya kazunari? I hope you have.

  6. ko'omla

    It was quite a puzzle but now I know what the symbols mean.thanx

    • vimal vinnarus .i

      its ur duty at dialy night improve ur home work…..

    • aadii

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      -49

      What is your age for the homework sexy diva

      • angel

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        -20

        that is my name to

    • O.M.

      Homework is important to complete even if you dislike it.

    • Id love to have homework on music, my school dont even have music lessons! So be grateful.

  7. Kaye

    This web sight has been and will continue to be a great help to me. Christmas songs are difficult for me to play. Now I can play them with your help and support! Thanks

    • SaTaN

      -
      -49

      It’s WEBSITE, NOT WEB SIGHT, you stupid moron!

      • flowerpowerrrrr

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        -15

        god bless you satan

        hohohohohohohoho

      • Kylie

        Worship Jk sheesh so harsh though

  8. maria maciel

    Evey thing goes spining in my head

    • O.M.

      Try learning things by breaking them into pieces and then putting them together to form the whole puzzle.

  9. i am a new amateur trying to play the piano learning how to play a book I can’t even walk (without you holding my hand) i would love to learn to play it usely i play easy play this is new to me the name of the book is the world’s greatest southern gospel songs 50 southern gospel classics on the g clef there are 2 notes each i don’t even how to play can you tell me how to play it on the f clef c backward has this # on it top and bottom can you explain how to play this thank you

    • I CAN’T EVEN WALK (WITHOUT YOU HOLDING MY HAND) THIS IS A PROFESSIONAL BOOK I NEVER PLAY THIS BEFORE WHEN I PLAY IT WAS EASY PLAY THE QUESTION I WANT TO ASK THE GRAND STAFF AND BASS CLEF BACKWARD C USUALLY THE NOTES ARE I CAN SEE THE LETTERS THIS LOOK LIKE THE HYMN BOOK THEIR ARE TWO ON TOP OF EACH OTHER IT HAVE SHARP 3 4 GRAND STAFF AND BASS CLEF I DON’T KNOW HOW TO PUT MY FINGERS ON IT EVERY GOOD BOY DOES FINE FACE GOOD BOYS DOES FINE ALWAYS ACEG HOW DO YOU PLAY ON THE GRAND STAFF FOR EACH IT IS TWO I PRAY THAT YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT USUALLY I SEE THE LETTERS ON THE BOOKS PLEASE TRY TO EXPLAIN IF YOU CAN THANK YOU

      • Punjabi

        why everything in caps? looks scary!

      • syarah

        Chill dude.

      • Kylie

        Haha so aggressive XD but pretty funny

      • Kayla

        What the…

  10. Tony gostelow

    Learning guitar using tabs, but to progress, notation is the answer

  11. Gife

    Very nice and helpful I thank it a lot :) .

    • IT IS VERY HELPFUL THANK YOU IT HELP ONE DAY I WILL BE ABLE TO PLAY THE PIANO BECAUSE YOUR ANSWER WAS VERY HELPFUL SOMETIMES PEOPLE CAN’T EXPLAIN BUT YOU HAD ME UNDERSTANDING I JUST KEEP PRACTICING UNTIL I GET THANK YOU AGAIN THE BOOK IS NOT EASY PLAY WHEN I GET I PROMISE I LET YOU KNOW I KNOW HOW TO PLAY EASY PLAY THE BOOK I HAVE IS PROFESSIONAL

  12. Amelia

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    -114

    this is confusing and doesn’t help at all. when i came to this website i really wanted to learn an instrument but now i’m questioning it because whoever wrote this blog obviously is a horrible teacher

    • O.M.

      Part of learning to play an instrument is learning to read sheet music.

    • JBass5

      Learn to play the air guitar, air flute, air trumpet, etc. That should be easy. Peace.

  13. It really helps me!
    I am starting to play Piano and I am just playing like a monkey…(Basically copying what I am told)
    I need to learn how to read the notes so this really helps!
    Thank you for posting such a helpful page…
    I find this blog really useful!

    • Thanks Author. I have never seen other blogs teaching with so much detailing. Now i can definitely learn step by step. I bookmark this page, so that i can visit here when i need some help in staff notation symbols etc. Thanks again.

  14. this site is very helpful to me I had alresdy learned how to read music in school this was just a refresher and it really helped all need to know is the where these scales start on the piano does it start at E or C or what

  15. David Jackson

    I had forgotten a lot of things with the scales and keys, that briefing from that page was excellent. It brought a lot of things back to remembrance.

  16. Ghazaleh Shirzadian

    अच्छा काम करते रहो , यह प्यार है और भारत से अधिक सबक है , धन्यवाद कृपया , प्यार दिखाने

    • Ghazalah Shirzadian

      Can’t this be removed?

      • mcc

        i dont see wy it sould sorry my keyboard is broken lol

  17. Eileen Long

    I learned to play whenI was quite young but find I need to refresh my knowledge and practice a little each day. I find your musicnotes exdtremely interesting and look forward to more of the same. Thank you.

  18. vimal vinnarus .i

    one of the most notes need in life it helps every one and it improve our selfs an our back ground.with making legents

    • vimal is so dumb

      -
      -26

      You sooo stupid y u talk like Frankenstein dummy?!… you mean “OURSELVES”, NOT our selfs, stupid! And you meant “background”, it’s ONE WORD, NOT TWO, idiot! try taking an ENGLISH lesson or three, jerkoff! I bet you can drive a cad real good though!

      • I wouldn’t be talking if I were you. Your reply is riddled with grammatical errors. I count 10 blunders.

      • DeadPigeon77

        I agree with … 100%

      • Hank M

        Your grammar is just terrible. Maybe YOU should be getting some grammar lessons before learning to play the piano. And considering you name yourself that? That’s just sad.

        Toodles.

  19. Pat

    Very useful!! Making learning music notes so easy! I LIKE IT!

  20. LaQuita Jones

    this was a very interesting amount of information I enjoyed it!!

  21. Paul Wisnoski

    I’m looking for, The O’Jays- For the love of money. It’s no where in your selection. How can I find the sheet music?

  22. Pingback: Standard Notation | Music Creation

  23. Frank

    Very Interested, would it be better if someone was there to show?????

  24. DSester

    interestingly resourceful

  25. uuusjnd cujd

    Im all about that base

    • Pianist Angle

      Why do you have a need to speak to people this way. You don’t know their background. You are very rude.

  26. Amazing….!!!!! Music made absolutely simple…….!!

  27. isabella

    I’m only 13 years old and I’m teaching my self how to play the piano through youtube now I’m trying to read notes and become better and really learn but its to complicated theres a song i want to play but its to Hard!!!!!!!

    • Brianna

      same. i am trying to learn also

      • im 14 and i can only play riffs from songs. Linkin Park, dr. dre, Axel F, and Say somthing are the only riffs i know. But this only helps a little bit.If they had the actual keys on the piano your supposed to press, it would help a lot more

  28. leanne

    it does not answer my 2 questions they are
    not playing for a certain amount of beats ( what it called)
    tells you what the notes on the lines are ( whats it called )

    • why are you so hateful? why all the negativity…can’t you say a word without cursing?

      Anyway, very helpful. Thanks

    • Sevensaynt

      He wants attention for no good reason… Or he’s just a moron.
      Reply: P

  29. I’m new at Piano and there were some really great songs that I dreadfully wanted to play so I had to learn how to read music sheets. If you can, please help me. I’ll practice all the time, because “practice makes perfect”. ^^ ~ In your debt, Angel

  30. Aqua

    I find this really helpful I am currently playing ( trying to ) play the piano .but I had absolutely no idea how to read sheet music but this made reading music easier!

  31. Anita van Wyk

    it helped me very much! Thank you

  32. Lynette Rall

    Thank you so much for the lesson above – I am in a choir and can now easily read the music and now know exactly which note to sing and for how long – whereas before I sang by ear. A wonderfully clear and precise tutorial!!

  33. Mrs. Sylvia k.

    Wow! I play by “ear” and this information has opened up a whole new world for me! Thank you & God bless.

  34. Mrs.Sylvia K. Lail

    I did not finish my information and accidently hit the wrong button on the previous reply. Sylvia Lail

    • Pianist Angle

      How do you even know she’s a Jewish person. Rude

  35. Alisa

    Thank you for this site trying to help my granddaughter a little bit on the pianio, and as she is only two and half noone is interested in giving her lesson just yet. So thanks heaps.

  36. Rhean D'Souza

    Thank you this is very helpful

  37. awesome aadi

    Wooooowwww, I did not like it

    • Good resource so far. But need more to explain scale by scale

  38. odhran

    You really helped me i can play minuet in G major now!

  39. pesi

    This is really helpful. I want to read music like a professional player.

  40. evelyn carmona

    nice but am sill lost i really need help i didint get any of this but am pretty sure it would have helped me if i wasnt so dum lol but really good wedsite love it

  41. Ayorinde joseph

    You really help, God bless you.I still need daily guide

  42. can any one help me figure out the form of Mozarts Le Nozze Di Figaro

  43. John

    This site does as is advertised: it tells you how to read sheet music. While there are certain pieces of sheet music this site does not expand on, it does give a beginner a firm basis for playing an instrument. Yes, this site may not go into any specifics on playing specific instruments, however it does explain notes and their functionalities, so that a musician or learning musician can learn how to play, themselves.

  44. suneth

    Thanks a lot. Now i can read notations

  45. angel balista llaban

    thanks ha its works…

    • Stephaie

      I swear I really need to learn how to play guitar I’m a really big failure and I just want to learn something for ones

  46. Janine Merrills

    FANTASTICALLY HELPFUL SITE – THANK YOU!!!

  47. Dootz

    this is an awesome beginners guide

  48. Aoi

    AHHHHH Its all coming back to me, Elementary School music class!

  49. Susan Nielsen

    I have been looking for years for the sheet music and lyrics to the song that Eddy Arnold put out in the ’50’s the Tennessee Stud … it goes like this Tennessee stud was long and lean color of the sun and his eyes were green, he had bone and he had the blood there never was a horse like the Tennessee Stud, Eddy Arnold was in fact singing about the Chickasaw horses that came out of Tennessee who were noted for their endurance and soundness. Hope you can help Susi Nielsen

    • Hi Susan,
      Thank you for your request. We’re working on it now, and the sheet music should be available in the coming weeks.

  50. W. Birkel

    Outstanding. I did not fully appreciate how important it was to fully understand -meter- time – melody etc when playing music. I can read and play the notes, but the music does not really come out as it was written until you put everything together. All those seemingly small marks on the page mean something and cannot be ignored — duh!. Going back through this has really given me a better understand of how to read the music. It also made me concentrate on details in the sheet music.

  51. Pat

    wow– how wonderful; what a find

  52. Excellent! I’ll stay with this for a while until I can read simple tunes. Many thanks!

  53. This is great!!! I played in a school band when I was 12 and 13 I am now 67 and I want to learn to play one of those keyboards. And now because of you I think I will be able to start again. Thank you so very much, from my heart

    • We love to hear that, Sam! Good luck on the next stage of your musical journey.

  54. Thank you so much, I am new to the Alto Saxophone and want to master it. I am also new to music. Thank you for giving me an awesome foundation.

  55. Abhinash

    This is really helpfull, thank U soooooo much. Can I get a copy on sheet music for Guitar ??

  56. Hi there!

    Thank you so mutch I awlready could read it a little bit but now I think I can fully read it.
    So amazing you made this just for us.
    Who is your favorit violist??

    cheers Peter.

  57. Sanjay Dan

    Easiest way to understand ‘Staff Notation’ on musicnote. Com
    Very nicely described… I really appreciate the team behind it. Pls write a book on this…it will be a great at help. Thank you and God bless!

  58. rahul wankhade

    Very good and understud for me Thanks

  59. Annamarie

    So helpful to teach a child. Thank you

  60. Francis

    I am so impressed by the way in which the explanation is logically unpacked. My late parents deprived me of the opportunity to explore my love for music especially the piano because they thought I would not focus on my studies. I painfully respected their way of seeing things. My father left the church organ donated to me in the rain leading it to its destruction including a guitar that was given to me by my uncle. This desire to learn music is still with me despite my current age. I think I will enjoy my pension days resuscitating the latent gift. To cut the long story short, I will now budget to procure instruments related to piano. Thanks, I found your website. Am I crazy? Nooooooo! I love music.

  61. Christopher Roberts

    cleared up a lot thanks

  62. bu ling

    It’s really a good lesson for me for reading the music sheet.

  63. Chhen Ksatrey

    how to sing along with music?

    • dummies should die

      really? are you that stupid?

  64. Anurag

    It’s just awesome……

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  66. lydia

    great to jog my memory thnx..

  67. Micheal

    super easy to learn i learned before my whole class

  68. matthew

    Thank you! very concise and informative. Really help!

  69. Gayl Ganskow

    my retirement community is doing a follies show with local talent in Nov., theme is States of the US with song mentioned in the words. I need a 3 part harmony for 3 women about a state. Can you recommend something. I saw This Land if My Land, etc. that might work. Help

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  71. Gilly hudson

    Seems understandable and excellent so far !!!

  72. Joy

    going to self learn to play piano. hope this info can help me to read the notes. tks :)

  73. Jevonty

    I didn’t read the whole thing but I kinda got it some I play saxophone so I’m still learning started yesterday

  74. Wow! I like it! It’s very useful. But I’m still don’t know something. How to know what note is (example like A, B, C#, Gb and so on) when the stem is down? Is it count as sharp even without ‘#’ sign or flat? Because normally the stem is up and not down… I’m still new to music things… Please help me, someone?

    • Laszlo

      The direction of the stem (up or down) does not change the note name or value (duration). The direction of the stem is only to make the note easier to read on the staff. Notes lower on the staff have the stems going up, while notes higher on the staff have the stems going down.

  75. L0VE MU$1C

    How did you MAKE this. It’s wonderful how beutiful i only knew how to read letters in notes but this is i..i can’t keep my words straight do MORE blogs like this. *_* :::;:::1::::::2:::::3 PLEASE ANSWER MY QUESTION

  76. Aurelia

    Thank you so much for posting this! This is so helpful! :D

  77. Dick Ruth

    In playing syncopated music on a piano, when do you play (strike) the note and count the beats/rests, etc. to accumulate the exact number of beats in the measure?

  78. GuitarMan

    I’ve been playing guitar for a while and know some basic theory, but I knew absolutely nothing about reading sheet music. After just reading through this page I now understand the basics and I’m ready to start (slowly) reading some scores. :)

    Thanks guys – a very simple but helpful introduction to sheet music.

  79. GuitarMan

    Thanks, this was really helpful. I’m a guitarist who knows basic theory but I had no idea how to read sheet music. After just reading this page I feel like I ‘get it’ now and can start to (slowly) read some scores. :)

  80. Kandi

    It was very helpful. I will use it again.

  81. Charlie

    Hello there! Can I use some pictures posted on this blog? Cuz I’m trying to introduce reading music to audience and I want to use some pictures for presentation if it’s okay to use. Plz let me know if it would be ok. Thx!

  82. Maidin Tinggal Mr.

    Clearly explaining on music notes which easily understood…easy to follow with practical examples….good for begginers or just who wants to learn more about music notes…how to read it & play it…great stuff. I like it.

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  84. I found this website most helpful, out of my search through an abundancy of irksome answers and not aid full in the least. but here I found things much simpler and am thankful for your patience in breaking down )details of essential points:)

  85. koketso

    i would like to study music thoroughly

  86. jeff

    I Like this site is really helpful to my ca rear.

    • I’m writing an easier way to learn and memorize music in an effective way, follow my blog memorymusic.it. it’s going to be translated in January 2016, but until that moment we can stay in touch using info@memorymusic.it

  87. Rob

    This was more of a refresher for me as I was taught to read music in school but that was decades ago It is a really good article if that’s the right way to describe it. It had me reading again within 30 minutes and also piqued my interest to learn more. Well done guys

  88. Joshua

    When you explained key signature with flats you used the term “major”. If the key signature has flats it should be referred to as “minor”.

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  90. Saurabh

    U helped read sheet music in a simpler and interactive way…..thnk u!

  91. CM

    Great basic info! Of everything needed to read on sight, this is bare-bones simple for the beginner

  92. Guy warren

    Very informative,and easy to understand

  93. Brianna

    I have been singing since I was 10, but I’ve never been able to read sheet music. This has helped me very much! Thanks!

  94. Brittny

    This site is great for beginners! I’ve always wanted to learn to read sheet music, since I have always been in 3 choirs (Show Chior and Concert Chior at my school and my church Chior). I’ve just always went along with the others, but this has helped me greatly! It was put into words that I understand, even as just a simpleton. Thank you so much!

  95. Clay young

    Coda and repeats and that a stuff

  96. Victor Paul Johnson

    Need bass. Want to learn the sound of a particular note in the bass staff.

  97. someone

    i do not know why but I just cannot understand any of this

  98. ronnie koh

    very useful & comprensive

  99. Thomas Isse

    I love this so much thanks for making learning

  100. clare castelin

    A huge thank you for the wonderful insight I got, reading the step by step explanation music notes. Do let me have your email.
    Best wishes.
    Clare (Castelin)

  101. What are the odds that this simply made lesson is the first thing that came up this time around, when I gave this attempt one last shot?!?! Totally worth it! Simple, clear and makes learning very easy. Thank you!

  102. Aahleu

    Great it refreshed my memory for my trombone and my piano.. well explained..

  103. Leanna

    I played the violin for years and stopped causing me to forget how to read music. This really helped spark my memorie! It was super helpful!!!

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  105. Savannah Kerstetter

    I can seriously understand how to play the piano, without taking lessons, with this website.

  106. Michael Grieff

    A “Printer Friendly” version of this article would be very, helpful.

  107. carly

    I love this site cos there are such funny comments.I hate music!

    • Haters Gonna Hate!

      Then don’t be on this site!

  108. Yuki

    This is very help full exspesuly when you say you canread music to evry one ut you cant (i cnat and i said that)

  109. Aljun

    thank you for your beautiful information

  110. bunnu

    Thank Q very much …. helpful….^_^

  111. Hopefully beginner

    Does it get eaiser :o

    • Vivian @The Violin

      Unfortunately no. The more advanced you become the more advanced the exercises become.

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  113. Great post for reading sheet music! I teach children to play brass instruments about 14 years and I am looking for methods to help them to learnas as quick as possible. Everything starts from learning music symbols… So I have created simple online web game , and seems that it helps a little bit. You are welcome to try, here are two links. http://dudorius.pe.hu/index.php and http://dudorius.pe.hu/zaidimas-atspek-ritma/
    It’s Hungarien methode, an Lithuanian language :)

  114. BaBaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

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  116. Rich Bartl

    I am entering a brand new world with an alto saxophone. Is music or notes the same for every instrument?

  117. I have a similar blog post that discusses the details of learning how to read music. As a high school music teacher, I decided to take it a step further and teach the concept in my free 3 part theory course found at http://www.musictheorylessons.net

  118. nathan

    Thanks a lot! this makes reading music much easier

  119. Jim

    What’s this message you sent me about. I don’t understand the aditude ..

  120. Pingback: How to Read Sheet Music: Channel Your Inner Musician with These Simple Steps! | Vishnu Priya Soma~India's Youngest Author

  121. Reading piano music notes is hard since once adding sharps and flats it gets complicated. After years of playing and reading I got to a conclusion that the problem is in the music notes and not the player.

    To make things short – try iCanPiano.net and see how a small change in the music notes turn the whole issue upside down.

  122. Vima

    Thank you so much very informative!

  123. Cruz Fernandez Alberto Ivan

    You Should Mention Repeat signs

  124. Echohawk

    Musicnotes has the treble notes cheat sheet for piano within the print guide. It would help those of us who grew up playing flute and clarinet to include a bass notes cheat sheet for piano as well.

  125. there is a mistake quarters are never being beamed. only 16ths and 8ths.

  126. Mderi

    I’m willing to know the notes

  127. SallyMJ

    This is really helpful. My original question coming here was what does it mean when there are two sharp symbols to the left of a staff? Now I know. Thanks!

  128. Kingsley

    Fabulous…. Its very iterasting…. And very easy to understand…. Thank u….

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  131. i would love to learn how to play the piano when i play the piano it is easy i want to read the lyrics become a gospel pianist i have a keyboard

  132. Foster Chikondano

    Enter your comment here…I like it its helpful

  133. Rebekah Brown

    This explains the symbols of notation but doesn’t actually teach how to read music with any comprehension. This is like knowing the names of the alphabet letters, maybe sounding out a word but not having any idea of the meaning of the text. Music reading involves the ability to see the notes on a page and sing or image in your head how they sound without ever having to hear someone else play them.

  134. Classical Music Is For

    reggaeton rules

  135. Michael john

    I really like music but I don’t know how to read and I like piano I don’t know how to play sure I need your help???

  136. David Rogerson

    Found the site most enlighteningand very usefull

  137. Megan Smith

    Thank for making me feel stupid! I looked up ‘There is a Fountain notes for those who can’t read sheet music and this pops up! Thanks, thanks for making me feel dumb!!!!!!!

  138. Jay C. Tianchon

    Im having headache… XD

  139. daeyongg172

    can you explain how to read sheet music without number or abc

  140. Pingback: How Can You Learn To Read Music - Musical Blog

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  142. Sama Samer

    It’s so complicated. I’m really confused and don’t understand most of it.

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  144. Isabelle

    This site has been really helpful. Before learning how to play sogs on my piano at home, i would always search song tutorials on youtube and memorize them just like that. Now with your help i can pay harder songs which ofc are lengthy. Thank you’!

  145. Pingback: How to read music – from Music Notes – @MusEducation

  146. Panthip

    Thank you very much for all notes information

  147. Angelina Robertsons

    This is very confusing and it didn’t help me at all. Thanx for trying tho!!!

    • Pajama Llama

      I still doughnut know how to read music this did not help; for I have been studying this for DAYZZZZZZZZZ

  148. claribel young

    This was the clearest, most complete introductory to reading music that I have found. Thanks for helping this musically ignorant senior.

  149. JuanP

    -
    -11

    Amazing but there’s no bass clef.

  150. Linda Gilley

    Great site! I love the way you have it designed. Thanks.

  151. John Michael Fillie

    I’m a 72 year old Catholic missionary priest. I’m a native of Sierra Leone, currently living in Dublin, Ireland where I first came in 1968. I have worked in Europe, U.S.A. and in Africa. As an Anthropologist, listening to African music of all kinds has always fascinated me,(knowledge of the languages aside). However, at my age, the one thing I would not want to portray in terms of music is that which I lack – I cannot read musical sounds as indicated by symbols called NOTES. I can sing. I love to sing. What I am learning from this ‘HOW TO READ SHEET MUSIC’ is going to change my whole life. In my retirement I have planned to do two things: TO WRITE NOVELS and TO BE ABLE TO PLAY THE BANJO which I now have. Thank you, thank you.

    JOHN MICHAEL FILLIE, C.S.Sp.

  152. brinley

    Thanks,and it’s free 70 year old and learning,

  153. Victoria

    Loved this! It really helped me, now I can play a hard knock life in my keyboard

  154. Deiah Riley

    I think this will probably help me ,since I am in beginner chorus .

  155. This is very helpful to me learning to read music!
    I can understand reading music more and plus, I have a lot of time to read it! \
    No limets!

  156. Dwight Buchannon

    What apps do you have for kindles

  157. Roma L. Felible

    i wish they would explain better

  158. prakso

    Simply superb guide for a new comer… i was reading this website to understand music and let me tell you… it really helped me a lot in understanding the music sheets….. remember guys practice is what you need after going through these guides… without practice you will forget everything in few days

  159. Russell Dudley

    I was wondering how to ditinguish aminor note written in sheet music &as well as dim notes or chords

  160. Siiaana

    this website really helped with my music assessment and guess what ?? I passes thxs all to this app

  161. owusu Mensah Addo

    Very very understandable.Good work done.

  162. BassNotes

    I learned better here than at my school. Pathetic!

  163. Cara

    Hello. I am just learning to read music and your site is getting me on my way. Thank you. I was wondering, on the picture above marked Naturals, you show what C to E would look like with Naturals. Would it not be C C# D (Natural) D# E (Natural)? I ask because above that you said you sharp or flat tell you which way you are moving on the scale and C to D we are moving up the scale so should be sharp. Do I have this correct?

  164. Jaime

    Do you happen to have all these as a PDF we can print off???

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  166. Lolo

    Thank you, you helped me a lot.

  167. Su

    I was finding it little hard to help my little one with her piano practice since I had missed a few of her classes in the beginning. Your site have helped me so much…now I can explain my kids better. I really appreciate you sharing this music reading knowledge…

  168. jimmy

    thank you for this site, it helps. the thing is that i am a bit familiar with chords and so confusing to learn by notes and to remember notes in the piano, it really needs patience and concentrations, sometimes it drives me crazy, but still trying to learn.is this the simplest way?

  169. Kitty Mathews

    This was SOOO helpful!

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  171. My problem is I know how to read music. I know what the notes are but it takes me an extra step to process them like as a kid I had music books that showed the notes but it also would have the letters above the staff like say G A B E etc….so I used to always look at the letters instead of the actual notes…so what I would find myself doing is writing the letters above the notes and reading those instead of the actual notes on the scale…I have a hard time getting around doing it that way.

  172. Music Is Life.. A Good Musician Is Always A Good Human Being.. I Have Never Seen Any Good Musician With Bad Mentality.. A Good Musician Has To Become A Good Human Being First.. Because Music Is Pure.. And One Should Be Pure To Express The Purity In Music..

  173. Kitty Mathews

    I am trying to learn Violin and this really helped! Thank you so much!

  174. Stephen otieno owaga

    Its good and i like it,i will reread again for i want to learn music

  175. Chip

    This is great, I had forgotten a lot of this since High School
    And have used tablature for guitar only.

  176. Annie Mason

    This was really helpful. I used to play the violin when I was younger but I had completely forgotten how to read music. All other pages I tried to use weren’t working for me so I’m glad I found this one. It is easy to take notes off of and understand. Now in no time I should be able to read music and pick up the violin again. Thank you!

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  178. Ben , Turk Hava Kurumu, inonu egitim merkezi calisma bayan hoca dan sikayetciyim. Sikayet thk Eskisehir inonu, tugba defolgit,

  179. Jim

    Logical , clear to understand, easy to understand
    Can be used right away . TKS

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  181. Jane B.

    This great info! Thank you! My son is learning piano and I’m trying to follow along. Very helpful.

  182. Jovet

    I read this guide not because I need it but because I’m always interested how guides like this present their information. Reading music is intimidating to most people and there seems an infinite way to describe the basics and nuances.

    I think this guide is pretty good, for the most part, but it could be improved. A big mistake, in my opinion, is throwing out terms that have not been introduced. Talking about “eighth notes” and “measures” before they’re formally introduced and explained can be confusing and frustrating, and should be avoided. Similarly, the text assumes the reader will recognize what a sharp or flat symbol looks like, but it’s never described what specifically to look for.

  183. Russell Dudley

    I wold like to know how to tell when the notes in a song ,wh go to amin,7th, or dim what do you look for a # or b before a note this is the most difficult problem i’m conforted with
    Russ

  184. Ralph Omoregie

    Nice touch. Thanks for this really simple approach to reading sheet music.

  185. Samuel Agyepong Ansong

    THIS IS A GOOD PIECE FOR TUTORIALS. I AM VERY MUCH CONVIENCED THAT I CAN READ MUSIC. THANK YOU.asamuel

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  188. Karen Mack

    learned in one afternoon

  189. mthokozisi sibanda

    It was much helpful to me loved it a lot

  190. To know what it’s saying on my sheet I put the letters on my sheet but when thesong is harder I do not know the different symbols.

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  192. SG

    Confusing A.F. Why just not use bars like piano roll in DAWs? I instantly understand how melody would sound if I look at bars.

  193. stuti

    very helpful for me,kindly add more of such things.it will help many students of music who does not have the resources.

  194. Carol Thompson

    very helpful. thank you

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  196. Kayla

    This is a pretty cool site, I already know how to sight read sort of and this helped a lot, thanks

  197. I found this so helpful. Hearing the notes and rests played really helped in hearing their length. Thank you

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  199. Thank you so much. This has been of great help. But please excuse my ignorance as I am just the biginner when I ask you which are black and which are white keys on the staffs? How should I differentiate between the black and the white keys of my piano?
    Thanks.

  200. Phyllis Adkins

    I am looking for I believe in 3part harmony

  201. Awad Mahmoud

    I got it amazing , thanks a lot , the rules are so easy to understand and applicable too .

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  204. eroni tauleka

    Great for someone playing and singing without any knowledge on how to read music.

  205. jhie

    Thank you so much. It helps a lot

  206. Anabel Nuñez

    I think this is helpful to me.

  207. Sagar

    Im Sagar lm very happy to find this site. Its good for music lovers

  208. Ana

    I know you all ready made this site but I believe you should have included the alto and tenor just if people are play an instrument other than a bass or a treble clef, and this is just my opinion

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  213. Innhy

    Woaw I really love this and i need more elucidation of music note pls. you mail @ innhy6@gmail.com.
    thank you

  214. hazel dmello

    Very neatly put up..easy to understand…keep up d good work.

  215. Eby

    Thank you very much makers. You have made it easy to understand. I longed to play hymns on the piano like my teacher. I hope your lesson has sparked the good fire. Very helpful. I wonder why u people do good things like this. May God bless you any way. Sincerely.

  216. Eby

    Please give some info on use if fingers for the notes on the piano. Thank you.

  217. zen

    This is awesome work.Really worth reading time.Graphics and plain english including the most important without annoyance.Just Bravo and tyvm It clarified me some points.I will look further for explanation on that 3/4 , 4/4 beat/measure thing.I just can’t figure that out lol.

  218. Stuti

    I really liked this site. I tried to find many sites and app to understand language music but none helped me. This site helped me a lot thank you so very much.

  219. charles

    i enjoyed the music lesson

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  221. B>Shankar

    Really thrilled with the sheet music note reading!

  222. Jimmy Bryant

    I like it so much better then the forth dollar book i bought. So much easier to understand.

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  225. Tina

    Haven’t played in years but my 11 year old granddaughter wants me to teach her. This was a great refresher tool to get us started.
    Thanks

  226. Michaela

    I’m not really a beginner but I was never able to learn how to read notes, i just copied YouTube. But this has been very helpful

  227. Bassam

    I still couldn’t understand and realize when we write 4 over four . the upper 4 refers to four notes in that measure but the down 4 I don’t know what it mean.

    Thanks
    Bassam

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  229. Bloooooooooooob

    how to read sharps?!

  230. Pj Ross

    Thank you for the great breakdown of a “scary topic” for the new beginner. Kudos!!!

  231. Anthony cannalla

    Very well put together, and easy to understand!

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