How to read Sheet Music / Notes - A Quick Reference
Last Updated: Jan 9, 2016
Understanding a few of these symbols allows you to play almost any type of sheet music.
Each black circle above represents a note to be played.
The exact note to play is denoted (pun intended) by where the note appears on the bar lines (or staff).
Side note: I once entered ten puns in a pun contest thinking at least one of them would win, but no pun in ten did.
Once you know the note names you just need to find that note on your instrument!
Here's where the notes are on a piano:
A 49 key keyboard. "Middle C" is the "c" key in the middle of the keyboard.
See more keyboard layouts.
Standard Notation sheet music is read from left to right (notes above and below each
other on the same staff are played simultaneously).
Here's a simple example of sheet music played on a piano - the scale of "f" played on two octaves:
Even though most of the music you'll find on TabNabber is in Piano Tab notation, we
Turn a piano tab into sheet
music - and -
a guitar tab into sheet music
Advanced Tips: How to Sight Read Sheet Music
Tip #1: Forget the note names:
Reading and playing sheet music by mentally converting
sheet music into the note names is how many beginners learn to play music. However, advanced musicians don't need to identify all the note names as they play a
piece of music. Finding the note's key
on the piano is an important first step, but this would be quite a mental task
for playing advanced sheet music. A faster way to read sheet music
is to know that a note equals a specific key (so you don't even think about the name of the note).
Tip #2: Count intervals:
A common technique (especially with chords) is to use the
vertical distance between notes as the distance to move on the piano. Look at how far apart one note is
from another and move that distance on the piano... if you work on quickly
identifying intervals in sheet music and separately work on moving intervals on
the piano with your hands without looking then put the two together it'll help
with your sight reading.
Tip #3: Improve your sense of pitch:
While there is evidence that pitch detection is somewhat genetic, improving your perfect/absolute and relative pitch is possible and will help you be an all around better musician and should also help with sight reading.
A good exercise to test your pitch sense is to sing a note and then try to play that same note on your instrument.
Also checkout this site to test your tonal recognition abilities.
We'd love to add more tips here, have a good one? Leave a comment below!
How to read piano tabs - and -
How to read guitar tabs