For 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
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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Ascending 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.
The material in this site is intended to be of general informational use.
Although every attempt has been made to make information as accurate as possible, we are not responsible for
any errors that may appear.