- How To -

Reading Music

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Understanding

Sheet Music

What is sheet music?

Sheet music is one way we can learn music, and perhaps one of the best ways as it has many more details over guitar tab and allows you to learn how to play a piece of music very accurately on many common  instruments. Verus guitar tab, which doesn't show timing & rhythm very well and is specific to guitar. It is more difficult to learn than guitar tab, as symbols are used in place of numbers for fret names, so we need to learn some extra basic information before we get a grasp of reading sheet music at a proficient level.

The Basics

  1. Clef (key signature) - This determine the key of the song. Click here to learn more about keys using the circle of 5th's. Every song has its own key signature, this one has 3 sharps so it's in the key of A major.

  2. Time Signature - These two 'fours' represent the timing of the whole piece, 

  3. Ledger Liner - These lines and the spaced in between them indicate what the pitch of the note is. The type of note (duration) is chosen, and then placed onto the line of the desired pitch.

  4. Note - These are symbols which tell you which note to play and how long to play them for. They're like the numbers used in guitar tab, except there are different types for different lengths.

  5. Rest - These have a few different variations and tell the performer to not play anything for the duration of that rest.

  6. Bar Line

 

Note Durations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rest Durations

 

Ledger line Notes

Treble Clef

 

      A   B   C   D   E   F   G   A   B   C   D   E   F    G   A   B   C

 

 

Finding the notes on the Guitar

Sheet music is one way we can learn music, and perhaps one of the best ways as it has many more details over guitar tab and allows you to learn how to play a piece of music very accurately on many common  instruments. Verus guitar tab, which doesn't show timing & rhythm very well and is specific to guitar. It is more difficult to learn than guitar tab, as symbols are used in place of numbers for fret names, so we need to learn some extra basic information before we get a grasp of reading sheet music at a proficient level.

Sight Reading

When you get good enough to read a piece of music you've never read before and play it note for note, that is sight reading. It takes a while to get good at it but first you need to know the names on the ledger lines and then some notes of your fretboard. When you're about to sight read a new piece, first look ahead and see if there are any difficult parts or accidentals, also look at the key and time signature. Then you can start to sight read, start with very easy pieces, you need to make sure you're actually sight reading rather than just working out each note separately and then playing them. Start to close the gap between reading the note and finding it on the fretboard.

Whole note

4 Beats

Half note

2 Beats

Quater note

1 Beat

Eighth note

1/2 Beat

Sixteenth note

1/4 Beat

Whole note

4 Beats

Half note

2 Beats

Quater note

1 Beat

Eighth note

1/2 Beat

Sixteenth note

1/4 Beat

Sight Reading Tips

The only way to get better at reading sheet music is to practice sight reading even just 5 minutes a day. Your sight reading will be hindered by not knowing most of the notes of the  fretboard  first, as well as having a good grasp of the notes of the ledger line.

Practice just below your current level of sight reading. If you'e a beginner then find some easy sight reading pieces such as nursery rhythms, a lot of the time they contain no sharps of flats so they're great for starting out.

Early on your main goal will be to get good enough to read a simple piece that you've never read before and play it at a reasonable pace without stopping to 'work out' the note. After this it's all just increasing the difficulty of the pieces you're learning until you're fluid at all levels. 

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