There are many reasons why learning to read piano music is helpful for musicians to know. Of course there are musicians who learn to play the piano only by ear, and they can even play very complicated music during entertaining performances. The major drawback to learning to play by ear without learning how to read piano sheet music is that these musicians will never be able to play music written by another composer or musician. They are not able to read music that someone else has designed and put into music notation, so they can't play many of the pieces of music that have been written over the last thousands of years since music notation became standardized unless they have first heard the piece of music.
This ability to play a piece of music on the piano, or on any musical instrument (even singing!) without having first heard the piece is called sight reading. Sight reading is a useful skill as it enables a performer to play any piece of music that he or she can find written notation for. If you can read piano music, you can also buy entire books with collections of songs that are published for musicians. There are books filled with popular songs, classical songs, jazz songs for piano, blues songs for piano and any other style of music you can imagine. When you learn how to read piano music, a whole new world of piano repertoire opens up for you.
The first thing that you need to understood about reading piano music is how it is written. The notes that tell you which piano keys to play are located on five lines and the four spaces between the lines. This arrangement of lines is called the music staff. Piano music uses two staves (the plural of staff), which is called the grand staff. A grand staff is used because there are so many different notes that the piano can play, 88 to be exact, that two separate staves are needed in order to notate all of the high notes (written on the top staff) and all of the lower notes (written on the lower staff).
In order to know which notes to play, you need to memorize the names of each of the lines and spaces. There is an easy way to do this. Going from bottom to top, the lines of the treble clef staff (the staff written on top) are used for the notes E, G, B, D, F. Music students are usually taught an easy phrase to help them remember these names for the treble clef staff lines: Every Good Boy Does Fine. The lines for the lower staff, the bass clef staff, from the bottom to the top are: G B D F A. A helpful phrase for the bass clef lines is: Good Boys Do Fine Always. Now let’s take a look at the spaces. The spaces of the treble clef staff starting from the first space near the bottom are F, A, C, E. Notice that they spell the word FACE. The spaces of the bass clef are A, C, E, G. Think of the phrase All Cows Eat Grass or All Cars Eat Gas to remember the names of the spaces. The more time you spend working on memorizing these lines and spaces, the easier it will be for you to know which keys to press on the piano. The next step in reading piano music is to know where the keys are located on the piano keyboard. First, find middle C. Put your finger on the first black key (the one on the left) of the group of 2 black keys directly in the middle of the piano. Now slide your finger to the left to touch the white key directly beside it, and you have found middle C. Notes to the right of this are indicated on the treble clef staff and notes to the left are written on the bass clef staff.
The white notes are named in alphabetical order from A to G, so if you press the white key just to the right of C, you have found D. next is E, F, G, and then A, B, and so on. The sooner you start to memorize the names of the keys on the piano keyboard, the better off you will be in learning to play piano. Piano sheet music is not only made of which notes should be played. The shape of the note tells you how long to play it, and words and symbols on the music give information about how fast or loud to play the notes.
A good method book, or a private teacher can help you learn to read music easily.
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