Learning a chord-based approach to playing the piano might have you rockin’ and rollin’ in not time, but many people want to know and understand what they are playing by learning how to read piano music. This could take time, a few months or even years, but those who learn to read piano music don’t have to hear a song before they play it. They simply look over the piece of sheet music and are able to ‘hear’ the score before them. Understanding the notes is like being able to read another language.
The first steps to learning how to read piano or keyboard sheet music involve learning the notes and clefs that a piece of music is composed of. This will let you know whether you need to play in a treble clef, or high tone, or if the piece is written for deeper or lower tones, called a bass clef. Next, you must be able to designate which notes are what, where they are located, and why they are there.
Notes are broken down and depicted individually on what is called a stave, the five parallel lines music is written on. Depending on where the note is on the stave, on the lines or in the spaces, this will formulate how a song should be played. Different parts of the musical score will detail each section’s notes all at once to help the conductor lead an entire symphony.
The next step to reading piano sheet music is a bit more complicated. The time signature is another important feature to focus on because it tells you at what pace the song should be played. These are often made up of vertical bar lines, which indicate when and where a song begins and stops. On this time signature there are numbers that indicate how many beats exist per measure. You’ll learn to recognize the time signature, what it means, and how it controls the rhythm of a song as you continue learning how to read piano music.
The final step to understanding a piano score involves understanding the next type of signature. This is called the key signature. The key signature tells you in what key the piece should be played. This can vary from sharp, to flat, to natural. Sharp keys are the black keys found just above the white keys on a piano or keyboard. The notations on the key signature indicate what part or parts of a song need to be emphasized or not. By learning to read piano music, you will not only be able to understand the piece before you, but you will also gain a deeper appreciation for the music.