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How to Read Music

If you want to play an instrument, the first thing you need to do is read music. Check out these tips to get started.

Instructions

  • Step 1: Learn the different kinds of notes Learn the different kinds of notes. An open note head is a whole note, an open note head with a stem is a half note, a darkened note head with a stem is a quarter note, a darkened note head with a stem and a flag is an eighth note, and a darkened note head with a stem and two flags is a sixteenth note.
  • Step 2: Know what a beat is Know that a beat is a steady pulse. Beats can occur at different speeds and are usually measured by BPMs -- beats per minute.
  • Step 3: Determine how long to hold each note Determine how long to hold each note. A sixteenth note for one-sixteenth of the time as a whole note, an eighth note for one-eighth of the time, a quarter note for one quarter, and a half note for half the time as a whole note.
  • Step 4: Know the difference between treble and bass clef The symbol that appears at the beginning of every music staff is called a clef symbol. The treble clef symbol looks like an ampersand, while the bass clef symbol looks like a reverse C with a colon next to it.
  • Step 5: Learn the notes of the treble clef Draw five horizontal lines with the marker on a piece of paper, leaving enough space to write a letter between each line. Now write the letters E, F, G, A, B, C, D, E, F, G from the bottom line diagonally to the top line, alternating writing the letters on the line and in the spaces. This is the treble clef staff. Begin memorizing it.
  • TIP: Assign mnemonic devices to the letters to help you memorize them. The letters on the lines are commonly remembered as "Every Good Boy Does Fine", and the space letters spell "FACE," which rhymes with space.
  • Step 6: Learn the notes of the bass clef Draw another five horizontal lines on a piece of paper. Now write the letters G, A, B, C, D, E, F, G, A, and B from the bottom line diagonally to the top line, alternating writing the letters on the line and in the spaces, ending with the B resting above the top line. This is the bass clef staff, which you should also memorize.
  • TIP: The mnemonic devices for the bass clef are "Good Boys Do Fine Always," and "All Cows Eat Grass."
  • Step 7: Combine the skills to read a line Pick up your sheet music, and begin reading it. Determine how many beats each note gets and the letter of each note. Soon you will be able to make music from what you've learned!
  • FACT: The Star Spangled Banner was named the National Anthem of the United States by Congress in 1931.

You Will Need

  • Several sheets of blank paper
  • A black marker
  • Sheet music

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