Music Reading Techniques from Beginner to Advanced


– One of the most basic
and critical skills you’re gonna need to play the piano is how to read music. Well, your piano teacher
Tim has you covered here because today, I’m gonna
walk you through everything you need to know about reading
music from the beginning. Let’s get it. (upbeat music) So the first thing you need to know about learning to read music
is learning about the staff, the lines and spaces on each staff. So lemme show you exactly
what I’m talking about here. Okay, so taking a look here, so you see that they
have these two things, these two symbols here. We have the treble clef right there, and the bass clef right there. Now the treble clef, the top
one, 99% of the time or so, you’re gonna be playing
with your right hand. They’re going to be the
notes that are higher up (piano playing) on the keyboard, specifically basically
from middle C, up that way. Bass clef, generally from middle C, (piano playing) down that way. And if you think about
it, it makes perfect sense since when you sit at the keyboard, your right hand’s gonna be over here, the left hand’s going to be over there. On each staff, we’re
gonna be taking a look at the treble clef here,
there are two staffs together. They are called the grand staff,
but on the top staff here, the treble clef, we have a, staff is always made up of five lines. One, two, three, four, five, and you can have a note
on each of those lines, or you can have notes on spaces
and there are four of those. One, two, three, and four. Now depending on which line
or space a note falls under, it’s gonna tell you what note to play, either A, B, C, D, E, F, or G, but it’s also gonna show you on the piano where to play that note. For instance, if I had a note right there, that’s specifically on its second line would be right here on the piano. And don’t you worry, I’m gonna teach you how
you figure that out. So let’s gets started. What I recommend you do is
memorize the lines and spaces for each clef from the bottom to the top. You always wanna be counting from this bottom one to the top, ’cause if you do it the other way, you’re gonna get it backwards, and get it wrong, most importantly. So let’s take a look here. So here you go. This is what I want you to do. So the bottom line is E. (piano note playing) The next line up is G. (piano note playing) The next line up is B. The next one up from there is D. And then finally, you have F at the top. Now what I recommend you do
is assign a saying to this, where each of the first
letters of the saying correspond to each of the notes. So I always like to use this phrase, every, (hard banging sound) so E for every, good, (hard banging sound) next line up, boy, (hard banging sound) middle line, deserves, (hard banging sound) next line up, and then fries (hard banging sound) or fudge (hard banging sound) or whatever word that you can
think of that has an F in it. So every good boy deserves fudge. Next I want you to memorize the spaces. The spaces are F, A, C, E. Do we need a saying for this one? Well, not really, right? ‘Cause it spells the word face. So let’s take a look here. So F-A-C-E, face. So, what were they again on the lines? It was every good boy
deserves fries or fudge. And then the spaces were F-A-C-E. And now do you count from
the top to the bottom? No, you count from the bottom to the top. So let’s practice just a few of these, so you get the idea. I am gonna link you to
a playlist at the end to give you more practice
with all this stuff ’cause there is a lot to move through. So if I have a note right
here on that top space, or bottom space, sorry,
what note is that gonna be? Well it’s spaces, right? And that spells the word face. So what’s the first letter in face? Well, that is F. Now we’re gonna talk about
where on the keyboard. So this F, specifically, (piano note playing) is right there, right above middle C. Like I said, (piano playing) the notes you’re working with with the treble clef are
from middle C up here. So this is the first
F you have right here. Let’s move the note down
one, see what happens. So I’ve moved the note
down one on the staff. It also moves the note
down one on the keyboard, makes sense? So if you have F here,
(piano note playing) well this one down (piano note
playing) is going to be E. Or your could use the saying
every good boy deserves fries with E (piano note
playing) being right there. So that’s the first E above middle C. So wait a second. How come treble clef’s
from middle C up here if it’s not on the staff? Well, they add these things, we’re gonna talk about
this later in the lesson, called ledger lines. So this is actually where the first note in the treble clef is outside the staff. (piano playing) So you are gonna see notes here, here. You can find a couple below middle C, but pretty much from
middle C up into the staff and then beyond. Okay, so if that’s middle C right here, (piano note playing) then this note right here is
gonna be one up from there. (piano note playing) It’s gonna be D, and that’s
why this first E is right here, (piano note playing) ’cause you’re counting up from middle C (piano note playing) right there. Okay, let’s do a couple more of these. How about if I move the note to here? Well that’s the third space
up on the treble clef, so that’s C. That’s the third letter in face. And is it gonna be right here? (piano note playing) This is middle C by the way. Well, no, right? ‘Cause middle C had to
be on that ledger line. So if I have the ledger line
right here with C on it, and this note’s way up here, well, you can see the big
gap there on the sheet music. That gap is also gonna exist (piano note playing) on the piano, so it’s the next C, (piano note playing) what we call an octave above. Meaning it’s one, two, three,
four, five, six, seven, (piano notes playing) eight notes above. (piano note playing) How about if I have a note
all the way at the top? Well, that’s the top line,
so what’s the saying? Every good boy deserves fries. So right here (piano note playing) is where that one’s gonna be, and if you think about
it, it can’t be here, (piano notes playing) remember, ’cause that’s where the first space is. And if you think about it,
that’s a lot closer to middle C, (piano notes playing) right there, but then
the top two notes here, (piano notes playing) they’re much further apart. So that’s kinda how you
can judge, you know, basically how high up the
keyboard or low on the keyboard you’re gonna be going for these. And don’t you worry, it gets a lot easier. You’ll start to pick it up
and understand a lot easier as you go. Let’s the talk about the bass clef now. (bass sound) Now unfortunately for us and all students, the treble clef and
bass clef do not match. So the lines of the bass
clef are gonna be different than the treble clef, spaces, same thing. So, the first thing you wanna
do is memorize the lines of the bass clef. And those are going to be great
big dogs fight animals. You can actually use a bunch
of different ones for this, but that’s what I do. So G for great, B for big, D for dogs, F for fight, and A for animals. Next you wanna memorize the spaces. So now we got a space
here, space, space, space. The spaces from the bottom to the top are all cows eat grass. And it works the exact same
way as the treble clef. Okay, let’s practice here. What if I have a note all the
way at the top of the staff? Well, that note, let’s
see, what was the saying? Great big dogs fight animals. So that’s A for animals. Now, where on the keyboard? Now here’s the question. Where on the keyboard is this A? Well, here’s the thing
you gotta keep in mind. You gotta ask your first question. Since I said middle C and
down is the bass clef, (piano playing) where is middle C? Well, lemme show you. ‘Cause remember on the treble
clef, it was right there. So on the bass clef, because the bass clef
goes from up here to down, middle C is actually gonna be right there. It’s on a ledger line, first ledger line right above the staff. So these two notes right here, even though they look
different on the staff, are exactly the same
note. (piano note playing) So, therefore, lemme get rid
of that treble clef note. You move this down one. (piano notes playing) That moves you down to B. And that’s why when you
move down to this A, (piano note playing) that A, lemme show you a little bit better there. That A is right there. How about right here? Well that’s great big dogs, right? Now where is that D? Is this D right here? (piano note playing) No, it can’t be, since
middle C is right here and we’re working our way down this one. So logically, the first
D that takes place, (piano note playing) below middle C anyway, is right there. And if you look on the sheet music, they are pretty far apart,
(piano note playing) and they’re pretty far
apart on the piano as well. Okay, what about this note? Well now we’re switching sayings, right? All cows eat grass, so this is an A. Is it right here? (piano note playing) No, because remember that was this A. This one is quite a bit further down. It happens to be an octave
down. (piano note playing) Once again, so it’s gonna
be a whole A down that way. Last one on the bass clef, and then we’ll move on to something a little bit more advanced. You have the bottom line. That’s gonna be G for great. Now, how far away is that from middle C? Well, that’s quite a ways, right? So it’s really unlikely
(piano note playing) that the G we’re talking about, (piano notes playing) is right here ’cause that’s
only four notes away. That would actually happen to
be right there on the staff. (piano notes playing) This is a whole other
octave down that way. (piano notes playing) So just keep in mind that
when you’re at the bottom of the bass clef, you’re not
anywhere near the middle. You’re actually quite a bit down there, since the bass clef actually
goes up towards middle C, (piano playing) whereas the treble clef goes
from middle C on the bottom, up (piano playing) there, just like that. All right, let’s move on
to our next secret topic. (horns blaring) So how in the world should
you be practicing your lines and spaces for each clef? Well, you can get a piece of sheet music and kind of look through
them and maybe label them. That’s pretty good practice. You can also use some flash
cards, you can find on Amazon. But there’s a free way to do it, both online and on your phone. I wanna point you to
musictheory.net/exercises/note. Hopefully, I will remember to
put that in the description. So here you go, but you can
type it in if you need to. So here you go. This is pretty much exactly what we did. Now the thing is, is that you
wanna hit this icon up here and you want to move the notes
to the ones we talked about. So if you wanna practice
treble clef and bass clef, click on grand staff. Next, I recommend you start
with notes on the staff. So, oh that’s the bass clef one. There you go. And I move that down. And that shows you the range of the notes it’s gonna be testing you on. It doesn’t make sense to test notes that you really haven’t practiced or you really don’t
know the theory behind, so when you first start out with these, start with something simpler so that you can grab a hold
of it a little bit easier, rather than confusing yourself. Key signatures, that’s fine. And then I think we’re good. All right, cool, so here we go. So, fourth line up on the
treble clef, that is D. And then what I recommend, it doesn’t have you do it on here, but I recommend you also
find them on the staff just the way we did. It might take a little
bit longer, but hey, that is how you’re gonna
get really good at these. I recommend you spend maybe
10 minutes a day on this. And probably over a month, you’re gonna be really,
really, really good at reading notes on the staff. Okay, one way to get way
better at reading music and read music way, way faster is by using what’s called intervals. Now, before I teach you about this, it’s really important to keep in mind that you want to be practicing the notes on the staff just the way
we did in part one here, for a while and get used to that before adding this on top. This is really after you’ve
accomplished that already. An interval is the distance
between two notes, so, (piano playing) that’s an interval. (piano playing) That’s an interval. (piano playing) That’s an interval. (piano playing) That’s an interval. So I think you get the idea. And, intervals go from second
up to octave and beyond. So let me show you what I mean. So if you have a note,
(piano note playing) and the very next note,
(piano note playing) that’s what’s called a second. They’re just one, two
(piano notes playing) away from each other. You have a note, (piano note playing) you skip a note, (piano note playing) that note, (piano notes playing) that’s what’s called a third. You go one more up, (piano note playing) that’s a fourth. There are (piano notes
playing) four notes away. Five, (piano note playing) same reason. I think you get the idea. Sixth (piano note playing), seventh (piano note playing), and then that’s why I said
octave (piano note playing) and beyond because this
is where the octave is. And then you can even have, which is eight by the way. And then you can even have
(piano note playing) ninth, tenth, eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth (piano notes playing). I highly recommend you at least know up to an (piano note playing) octave, maybe even nine and ten,
eleven, things like that, but at least start (piano
note playing) practicing up to an octave. Now let me show you exactly
how this is gonna help you out. All right, let’s take
our treble clef here. And let me write two notes here. Now, I can read those
two notes individually, which because there’s two
of them isn’t too hard. So I know the bottom line’s E, and then the next line up is G, you know, every good, just
along with your saying. So you can hit E (piano note playing), you can hit G (piano note playing). Now if you notice, that took what, even though I know it right away, it took a while for me to get there. What’s a lot faster is
looking on the sheet music and determining how far
apart these intervals are. And because I know my intervals so well, I’m gonna walk you through them, I know that that’s (piano notes
playing) a third right away. So I really only need to
read that bottom note E (piano note playing) and just know (piano note playing) that that’s a third away. It gets more and more useful
the more notes you have. So let me walk you
through all the intervals on the sheet music here. So second, seconds are so close together (piano notes playing) that they actually go side by side. You know, once you get there, so that’s the only one like that. Then you have a third, that
looks like a stacked snowman, so you just have a line
(piano note playing), a line (piano note playing), you can also have them
go from space to space. It doesn’t really matter so long as they have that
even stacking right there. Let me bring it back to
where we were at, all right. What if I move this one, one up? Well, since the other one was a third, this has to be a fourth
(piano notes playing), so E to A, so they won’t match. You have a line and then a space, with maybe like a little bit
of space in between here, and that doesn’t matter where
it happens on the piano, you can start with a space down here, and the top one will be a line. But they’re not too far out, like that would be a sixth, that would be an eighth, so there’s a fourth right there. It’s just a little bit of a gap in there. Okay, fifth is when you
basically have a snowman without a middle. So you basically have a space, no space, and then another space. Well, what if it falls under a line? Like I said, it doesn’t really matter, it’s still a fifth. So you have a line, no line, and then another line. So there is number five, let
me show you number six here. Number six is one more past that, so they won’t match, so if the bottom one’s a line, top one will be a space, bottom one’s a space, top one will be a line. Quite a mouthful. So you notice that there’s
a much bigger gap here than there was with the fourth, ’cause a fourth was down there, whereas the sixth would be up there. It’s easy to get six and fours mixed up, you’ll get the hang of it, all right. Seventh, is when you move up one more, so you basically have a line, no line, no line, and then another line. Same thing if it starts on a space. You’d have space, no space, no space, and then another space. And then the last one I’m gonna
go over with you right now, is the octave, the king of all intervals. So you got E on the bottom, E on the top, so the octave will always match obviously (piano notes playing) but the notes in terms of lines and spaces do not match. For instance, you have
a line on the bottom, top note will be a space,
and then vice versa. And then if you notice, the
gap here is quite large. It’s much larger than it was at a sixth, which was right here, or a fourth, which was right there. So a quick tip for you is that all even intervals don’t match. So that’s seconds, fourths,
sixths, and octaves. So here you go, and what I mean by don’t match is that if the bottom one’s a line, the other one will be a
space, and vice versa. So you know that that’s
an even number interval, you know that that’s an
even number interval, this line space, you know that that’s an
even number interval. What about that one? That one is actually going
to be an odd number interval. So odd number intervals, they do match. So if you have a line here, the other one’s gonna be a line. So, odd, odd, odd, odd, and then you got even, even, even, and even, just like that. Okay, let me show you a
quick practice example here on the staff and on the keyboard to make sure that we got the concept. Okay, I have three notes here, like I said, this technique is great for many notes at the same time. So I can read these notes individually. Okay, that’s an F (piano note playing), that’s the next bass A
(piano note playing), and then the last one is
an E (piano note playing). So that takes a little bit of a while but what I can do is I can
just play the bottom note F (piano note playing) and then I see that that’s the beginning of a stacked snowman, they match, so that’s an odd number interval. (piano note playing) That’s gonna be a third, and then you have a
fifth and then a seventh (piano notes playing) up here, so you can see that
the fifth would be right here, but it’s absent, so you
got (piano note playing) the 1st note, then a third
up, (piano note playing) and then a 5th up basically
(piano note playing) from that A there. One, two, three, four, five.
(piano notes playing) So you can do it really quick. Let me do one on my own really quick ’cause as I explain
them it takes more time but let me do one like
kinda complicated here, and then once I play it, I’ll walk you through, it’s probably gonna be a
terrible sounding thing, (piano playing) but here we go. Okay, so you got the bottom note F, that you can see that’s
(piano note playing) stacked right away on the bottom, and then you can see between
those two middle notes, the G and the B (piano note playing), that that’s a third, evenly stacked, and then from the B (piano note playing) up to the F is clearly a fifth, (piano playing) which I can’t play with one
hand (piano notes playing). So there you go, I could read
them so much faster than, okay, F, and then okay, what’s this
thing for the next one, so on and so forth. But like I said, you do want to get used to
stewing the sayings at first, and then build up to this technique. Okay, now I’m gonna show you how to practice these intervals. So let’s take a look. I got another website for you. This is musictheory.net
again, /exercises/interval. And you can also find apps on
your phone for this as well. Again, you wanna go up to
the little gear at the top, you wanna select, you know, something that you’re
gonna be familiar with, like the range, you don’t wanna be using, you don’t want to, like
have quality in there yet, we didn’t talk about that today. Interval seven is pretty good, I think that’s as like high up as they go, and then once you get advanced, you can go up to 15th. For right now, one
through seven is perfect. So I think we’re ready so start here, so let’s see what this first one is. Okay, so here’s the thing, is that this is on a ledger line way down there, and I might not know that note. So what I would do is I
read this top note instead, assuming that I’m a beginner
practicing, you know, notes on the staff first. So this first note is F
clearly, (piano note playing) ’cause that’s the first
space of the treble clef, and then you don’t have a, you know, there’s an empty space
there, (piano note playing) and then there’s another
space, (piano note playing) so if the top note’s on a space, bottom note’s on a space, is it going to be an even number interval, or an odd number interval? Well if they match, it’s
actually an odd number interval. It can kinda be opposite
of what you might think. So, and I know right away
that this is a fifth, so going to the piano, I have my F up here, (piano note playing) you’re gonna, if you skip
a note (piano note playing) down here, that’s a third, and then skip (piano note
playing) another one, there’s your (piano note playing) fifth. One, two three, four, five.
(piano notes playing) Just sounds just lovely. So I’m gonna click fifth, and ey, that was the right
answer, it glowed green. What about these two? You got A and F on the bottom, and you basically have a note on the top, so you have a space, and then a line, they do not match, so that’s
an even number interval. And that one is a fourth, and we’re just gonna do two more here. Oh, that’s the fifth again, same one. And then this one right,
this one should be easy. This one is the stacked
snowman, evenly stacked, that’s a third. So go through and practice these, once you learn how to read
the notes on the staff and you feel proficient at that, then branch out to this and practice this for ten minutes a day, maybe
in place of the note reading. Now the thing is, is after
you start practicing this, if you start feeling like you’re, you don’t have the notes
memorized anymore on the staff, go back and practice
the other exercise I did with reading the notes separately. (trumpets sounding) I mentioned earlier in the
lesson about ledger lines, the notes that go up and below the staff, so let’s talk about that. I’m gonna give you some
tips on how to master those. This is something you should practice after you practice notes on the staff, after you practice intervals because the intervals
will actually help you read the ledger lines. Let’s take a look. Okay, so I mentioned before
we had the bottom note E here, you move this down, you
got C, there’s middle C, and then it’s like, all right, well, what happens when the
notes get really, really low? What do I do? So this note’s E, so let me
write these notes out for us and see if we can pick up a pattern. Okay, so these four notes
from the bottom to the top, I’m gonna tell you right now, are F, A, C, E. Gee. Doesn’t that sound familiar? It kinda does, right? F-A-C-E spells face. Okay, so now we have these four notes, let’s see if we notice a pattern. I’m gonna give you what they are and we’re gonna figure out if
we notice anything familiar. So these lines are E, or a space, sorry, E, G, B, D, and then we have our first space on the, on the treble clef, F. So therefore, the spaces
going down off the staff match the lines on the staff. Of course, these will take some practice, it’s not something you’re going to get
super good at right away. Okay, so now we have the
spaces going up off the staff. Now, let’s see if these look familiar. You have F up here (piano note playing), next one’s A (piano note playing), C (piano note playing), E (piano note playing). So the line’s going up off the staff are actually match the
spaces on the staff. Now, let me show you
how to do this technique with the intervals that
we just talked about. Okay, let’s take a look
at some notes coming up off the staff and the ledger lines. So this is where the intervals are really, really gonna come into play because you can use
them to your advantage. Let me show what I mean here. Okay, so we have these four notes. You know what that
bottom note is probably, that note of course is going to be F, ’cause right, every
good boy deserves fries. And then take a look at these two notes. So F, and you got this note
right next to it, like that, that’s gonna be a second,
right, they don’t match, and they’re real close to each other. So second, so a second on the keyboard
right next to each other, so you got F (piano notes playing), and then that next second note is G, let’s take a look between the second note (piano notes playing) and then that third note, so we have space (piano note playing), and then another space. Well hey, that’s gotta be
an odd number interval, and they’re still pretty close. (piano note playing) So that’s gonna be a third. So you have F, G, B,
(piano notes playing) and then another third
(piano note playing) between those last two.
(piano note playing) So you can use your intervals, this is why I told you to practice them to read notes much, much faster
even up off the staff. Let’s do another, let’s go down below the staff actually, see how intervals may be able to help us. So now we have these four notes. You probably know the first
note’s F (piano note playing), you know, first space on the treble clef. You’re going down a third
(piano note playing) on that next one ’cause
it’s space to space, and then you got these two notes
from D (piano note playing) to middle C, I already taught
you about that one pretty good so they’re a second away
(piano notes playing). And then, let’s take a look
between these last two notes which is gonna be the trickiest. So if I just write the C right here, you can see that you have a line, you have a line that’s empty, so line, no line, and then a line. I said earlier that that is
a fifth, and that is correct, so what you do is (piano
note playing) you play C, and then you just go one,
two, three, four, five, (piano notes playing) and you can figure out (piano
note playing) right away that that note is (piano note playing) F. Taking a look at the bass clef, we’re just gonna practice a few of these. So here are our four notes. We got the top line of the bass clef, that’s gonna be A (piano note playing), as you probably know. And then, you got a line
(piano note playing), and then a space. So, do those, is that an odd number interval or an even? Well that’s even, right? Because they don’t match. Now, a second would be right there, this one’s a little bit
higher up than that, so we’re talking about a fourth. So you can count up four on your keyboard. One, two, three, four,
(piano notes playing) so our next note’s D, so between the middle two
notes there, you got D, and then the mystery note here, well that’s right next
to each other, right? (piano notes playing) So that’s just gonna be a second
above.(piano notes playing) You know that that’s E, and then let’s take a look here, you got the last note there, on the first space above the staff. So those don’t match, we’re talking about an
even number interval. They’re a little bit further
away, (piano notes playing) so then I know that that note
is B (piano note playing). So the notes are A, D, E, B.
(piano notes playing) Now how should you
practice your ledger lines? Well, go back to the first
note reading exercise I gave you today, because that one you
just change the settings to work on ledger lines. Let me just really quick
show you how to do that, just so you’re not confused. Okay, taking a look here
on the note exercise. So it’s the same exercise, musictheory.net/exercises/notes. But you click on the gear here, and what you wanna do is you want to click on range, and change that range to include notes that are on those ledger lines, and that’s gonna give you, you know, some pretty
good practice on notes. To get an even better understanding of reading music, intervals,
and all the things we talked about today, make sure you check out
this playlist right here to learn more all about it. So it’s been your piano teacher Tim here, thank you so much for coming by, and I’ll see you!
(piano music) Yes, you, in the next lesson. (upbeat music)

12 comments

Hey students!

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Yo who would dislike a video like this? This man is literally spending his time to teach us, and one of y'all just had to be a jerk for the sake of being a jerk.
Good luck trying learn the piano by yourself, jerk.

Thank you so much. I'm a self learned pianist for nearly 3 years and don't have the slightest idea about reading sheet music or proper music theory. I can't describe how much your videos has helped me and hopefully other pianists as well. Again I would like to sincerely thank you for your help.

Hey Tim , what does a (single # ) or (multiple ## ) mean on the treble cleff , i know that they are supposed to be sharps , but i don’t know which exactly notes should be played , it seems that they are always marked on the 5th and 4th line yet i don’t know which note is supposed to be played in sharp , also the same thing with bass clef , are there any diffrences?

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