How to Read Piano Sheet Music

piano with sheet music

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Reading sheet music means developing a reciprocal relationship between your eyes and hands, and of course, this collaboration won’t form overnight; it’s a process which requires patience and is best broken down into stages.

The Grand Staff & Its Clefs

Piano music requires a two-part staff in order to accommodate the piano’s wide range of notes. This large staff is called the “grand staff” (or “great stave” in UK English), and each individual staff within is identified with its own musical symbol called a clef.

Memorize the Notes of the Grand Staff

The notes on the treble and bass staves aren’t exactly the same. But don’t worry, once you know how to read one, you’ll notice the same note pattern is repeated on the other in a slightly different way.

Music Note Lengths

You’ll have learned in the previous step that the vertical location of staff notes demonstrates pitch. Note-lengths, on the other hand, tell you how long a note is held, and they play a crucial role in rhythm.

Play Your Very First Piano Song

Once you become familiar with the basics of piano notation, you can put your new knowledge to use right away with an easy, color-coded guide for the absolute beginner.

Free, Printable Piano Lesson Book

For those a bit more comfortable with notation, free, printer-friendly practice lessons are available in several file formats and sizes. Each lesson targets a specific technique and ends with a practice song so you can practice your new skills and exercise sight-reading.

Sheet Music & Notation Quizzes!

Test your progress or challenge yourself with new lessons! Find beginner and intermediate tests and quizzes – with accompanying lessons – on a range of essential musical topics.