How Do You Read Music? | DFW Music Lessons

Mary Jaira Reyes
Posted by  Mary Jaira Reyes, on Apr 6, 2022 12:41:34 AM

“Music is the universal language of mankind.”

- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, American Poet & Educator (1807-1882)



Every language has its own alphabet, sound, and structure. It is used for writing and reading for communication. It is the same with music.  They have their own notes, beats, and other elements to make music readable. Reading music is also called sight-reading. A piece of formatted music on paper is called a music sheet.

Not all people can read music, because they believe that it's hard to do it.  But for others, why is it special to read music?

Why Reading Music is important?

Sheet Music Piracy: You Can Get Everything For Free On The Internet : The  Record : NPR

The answer:

 "All actors have scripts created by the writers. Same with musicians, they have a melody script to follow, especially if it is newly created by a composer."

This is the reason why sight-reading is so important in stage performances to track down correctly their notes and keys. 

How to Start Reading music?

Learning the functions of each element can already help you comprehend when reading a music sheet. So try to familiarize them carefully. 


8 elements of Sheet Music

1. Staff

The 5 lines you see are called the Staff and there are 4 spaces. This is where the keys and notes are placed.

the staff version 2


2. Clefs

Clefs are the specific range divisions of music. It is useful to know what octaves and keys that you are focusing on.

Transposing into the alto clef, an overview! - Jade Bultitude

3 Types of Clefs

Treble Clef Alto Clef The Bass Clef
treble clef-1 How to Read the Alto and Tenor Clefs in Music — Musicnotes Now istockphoto-1186530157-612x612

The Treble Clef  is also known as G Clef because it represents the G above middle C.


The Alto Clef is also called the C Clef: its middle point is the middle C. Some articles say that it's also called the Tenor Clef.

The Bass Clef is also called the F Clef: its two dots encircle F below middle C.



3. Measure Lines

Measure lines or bar lines are the lengths of a specific number of beats played at a particular tempo.

Reading Music #32: Bar Lines - Music Reading Savant

4. The Notes

Songs have slow and fast beats. Good thing that these beats can be also transcribed into music notes! It's so cool. Music notes are used to know the duration of a key.  Here's a short video about music notes. Normal beats follow the timing or your walking footsteps, while the fast beats follow the timing running foosteps

note beats


5. The Keys

Just like the piano keys, the staff and spaces have their corresponding keys. The middle C (C4) has an invisible line down the staff. 

The musical staff, clefs and the middle C note – Piano Music Theory

Treble Clef's Staff keys

Treble-Clef-keys (EGBDF+FACE)



Bass Clef keys 
For lines: For spaces
Mastering the bass clef:how to read the notes for your left hand  space notes


6. Accidentals

An "accidental" sign in music is placed above or left of a note to show the change in pitch. A sharp (♯) raises a note by a semitone; a flat (♭) lowers it by a semitone; a natural (♮) restores it to the original pitch.

What Is an Accidental in Music?


7. Time Signatures

Time signatures are the number of beats in a measure line. This will let you know the timed beats of the song.



8. Dynamic Marking

Dynamic marking is helpful to know how soft or louder your piece with be. 

Terms are:

piano (p) = "soft"

pianissimo (pp) = "very soft"

forte (f) = "loud"

fortissimo (ff) = "very loud"

mezzo piano (mp) = "medium soft"

mezzo forte (mf) = "medium loud"

crescendo (cresc.<) = "gradually louder"

diminuendo (dim.>) = "gradually softer"

music notation: dynamic markings - Students | Britannica Kids | Homework  Help


Excited to read music now?

Creative Soul Music School's comprehensive music education includes theory, ear training, sight reading, technique, and history with the best and most experienced music teachers in the Fort Worth, Southlake and Keller. Learn more here



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