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How to Read Piano Notes For Beginners

reading music notesFor anyone starting out, learning to read music notes can seem a big challenge. It can seem as if you are trying to learn another language along the lines of Japanese or Chinese, where strange symbols represent letters.

True, music is a language in itself but it has a limited amount of variation to the amount of symbols it has to “speak” music.

There are four main types of notes that any beginner should know. The semibreve, which looks like an ‘O’ and counts for four beats, a minim which looks like a semibreve with a stem and counts for 2 beats, a crochet which is a coloured in minim and counts for  1 beat and a quaver which is a crochet with a tail on the stem and counts for half a beat.

Piano notes are organised on a musical stave. A musical stave consists of five lines and four spaces between the five lines. Each line or space corresponds to a key on the keyboard and the note’s name.

At the start of a stave there is either treble clef (signalling that you start playing with your right hand) or a bass clef (signalling your left hand starts playing). With the treble clef, starting from the bottom line on the stave which is E, the next line will be G then B, E, F  and where these notes are written on the stave denotes where you play the notes on the keyboard.

The space between the staves are F, A, C, E. An easy way to remember the lines is with the rhyme Every (E) Good (G) Boy (B) Deserves (D) Fudge (F) and for the spaces FACE. The bass clef starting from the bottom line is G, B, D, F, A and the spaces are A, C, G, E. 

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confusing music notesAscending by a semitone, a semitone being the distance between each black and white key on the piano keyboard, the notes are written on a stave. Middle C is written two semitones below the E line of the stave.

A small line is drawn as if there was an extra stave line and a note put on that line. D is coloured in the space just below the E line of the stave and thus ascending in this way up the stave.

Music notes are arranged on two staves. One stave is preceded with the treble clef and is written for the right hand and all notes above middle C are written on the treble clef. The treble clef looks like a type of ‘G’ and the curl of the treble clef starts on the G line of the stave.

Below the stave for the treble clef a second stave appears in written music and is written with the bass clef. The bass clef appears like a ‘hook’ on the stave. All notes which are played by the left hand and which occur below middle C are written on the bass clef.

It is good to buy a music theory book for beginners which illustrates these basic principles on piano lessons for beginners as well as practising on a stave drawing notes and recognising where each note is placed.

These are the basics which you will need to learn the piano from the beginning. Beginning piano lessons is something which cannot be taught theoretically though. Although you may learn the music theory behind it, you do need to put into practice what you have learnt and see it demonstrated on a keyboard with the corresponding notes on a page and position of your hands on the keyboard.

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