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How To Read Music Notes - learn to play piano / keyboard

Music Terms / Definitions:

Staff: A staff of music is made up of five horizontal lines and four spaces. Each line and space represents a key on the piano. Notes and rests are then placed on the staff.

Clef: A clef is a symbol at the beginning of a staff of music which makes it possible for the player to work out what the notes are. It indicates the pitch of the notes on that staff to be played. The two most common clefs are the Treble Clef and Bass Clef.

Measure: Sheet music is divided into Measures. Each individual Measure lasts for the same time duration, and can consist of a combination of notes and rests. A measure ends where a vertical bar line goes through the staff (horizontal lines) on sheet music.

Note: A note is represented by a sign, which tells the musician the duration and pitch of a sound.

Pitch: The specific frequency of a sound. Notes to the right of the keyboard have a higher pitch than the notes to the left.

Beat: A beat is the name for a unit of music. Musicians learn to count beats, and play notes for the specified number of beats. Some use a metronome, this device counts out beats, and will tick according to which timing you have set. Counting beats starts when the first note is played.

Time Signature: The time signature, also known as a “meter”, tells the musician how many notes are in a measure.

Time Signatures (Meters):

The below table summarizes the different types of time signatures and their associated beats.

How To Read Music Notes - learn to play piano / keyboard

There are many more time signatures, but it is a good idea to start with the 4/4 time signature as it is easier to count.

Below are the rules of the 4/4 time signature:

- There are 4 beats in one measure
- When you play a whole note, count out 4 beats
- When you play a half note, count out 2 beats
- When you play a quarter note, count out 1 beat and then move onto the next note.
- 2 eight notes should fit into 1 beat
- 4 sixteenth notes fit into 1 beat

Tip:  When learning to play the piano / keyboard, count aloud to get used to the rhythm.

- How To Read Music Notes - Parts 2, 3
- Learn to Play Piano »

How to quickly print these notes and guidelines:
Use your mouse to highlight all of  text that you want to print out.  Then copy/paste that text into a text-only editor on your computer. For example, Notepad, a common text editor included with all versions of Microsoft Windows, and found in Start, All Programs, Accessories. Then click on "File" in the top left corner of the Notepad document, and click on "Print".