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Where do I start with learning to read music?

Faced with a piece of music, you may feel that you will never be able to understand all those dots and lines. Perhaps you feel you’d have a better chance of learning Japanese. Well fear not, it’s actually a lot easier than most people realise. The key is to learn in tiny bite size pieces rather than seeing the sheet as a whole. Remember when you learnt to drive? It seemed impossible at the time but after a few short lessons things started to fall in to place. Reading music is just like that.

To get to grips with reading music, we suggest sites such as eMusic Theory or Teoria both of which we’ve reviewed for you. Of course a music teacher can also assist you. However using an online tutorial will mean you can keep revisiting lessons if there is something you don’t understand. For quick results, use a combination of learning style including diagrams, online videos, practical learning and interactive sessions.

Before you can advance you need to familiarise yourself with the basics of reading music. This means understanding what is represented on the stave in front of you.

NB: American sites will call it the “staff”, British sites will call it the “stave”. This refers to the five lines and four spaces with the dots and squiggles!

The stave consists of five lines and four spaces. Each of those lines represents a different letter, which in turn represents a note. Is that making sense now?

For now let’s just concentrate on the treble clef. In order to remember what each line or space represents, it is helpful to use mnemonics. For lines, we remember EGBDF by the word cue “Every Good Boy Deserves Football”. There are variations on this but I am sure you get the general idea. For the spaces we remember FACE, just like the word face!

Once you feel you have mastered the theory of reading music, you should put it into practice. There are various sites online which will allow you to download music for free. Print the music off and spend some time deciphering the stave with a pen. You can also buy a range of books which contain questions and answers! We’ve put some of the best books available in our store – click here to see them.

Just like any other skill, it takes practice and time to really get to grips with sight reading music. Learning to read one note at a time can be really quite simple. However it gets more complicated with additional notes, key changes and when you combine sight reading and playing!

Now that is multi-tasking!

Have fun 🙂

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