The Learning Edge

Reading Sheet Music for Beginners (1/4)

Reading Sheet Music for Beginners (1/4)

Reading Sheet Music for Beginners (1/4)

Learn how to read simple sheet music by notating a simple nursery rhyme. Learn the meaning of important concepts such as staff, quarter, bar, beat, BPM, time signature and more!

This is part 1 of a 4-part series which will guide you through the mysteries of reading sheet music. The series is geared towards beginners. Here are links to the entire series:
Part 1:
Part 2:
Part 3:
Part 4:

What’s in the 4-Part Mini-Course?

In this mini-course, you are going to learn how to read simple sheet music. We’re going to cover the basics of musical notation using a simple nursery rhyme, Mary Had a Little Lamb. Yes, it’s simple, but it has all of the components we’re interested in understanding: the staff, note durations (quarter, half, full, eighth notes), bars, beats, BPM, time signature and more.

Who Are These Videos Aimed At?

This music reading tutorial is aimed at the novice or beginner who is inexperienced at reading sheet music. If you are a professional musician, or want to know what microtonal notation or courtesy accidentals are, you’re too advanced!

How is Your Video Different from the Other Tutorials on YouTube?

Excellent question. I haven’t seen all of the other tutorials, so I can’t really speak for all tutorials out there, but I do really:
1. Take my time and explain each concept intuitively and clearly;
2. Make NO assumptions regarding your previous sheet music reading skill level;
3. Make NO assumptions regarding your proficiency at playing piano.

What is Sheet Music?

Sheet music is a way of communicating. It is a written language meant to convey the music we hear with our ears. Originally, sheet music was written on paper, where its name came from, although today it’s not uncommon to see musical notation displayed on computer screens, tablets and other portable forms of electronic display. Another term for sheet music is “score”. Notating sheet music is another pretty way of saying “writing sheet music”.
Despite its importance in communicating ideas, sheet music is not a prerequisite for having a successful career. Some examples of very successful musicians who have had illustrious careers despite not knowing how to write notes are Irving Berlin, Paul McCartney and Lionel Bart. Still, if you plan on playing with other musicians, knowing how to read sheet music can be an enormous benefit.

Other Related Videos

The western way of musical notation has evolved over many centuries. I won’t be going into details regarding its evolution, but here is an interesting and well made video discussing the history of sheet music:

My own channel has many other piano and music tutorials which I invite you to check out. Here is a (short) sample of videos:

Exercises for building up your piano runs and fills:

Jazz harmony, chord voicing and the 2 5 1 progression:

Modulating between keys using the 2-5-1 progression:

Learn to play piano left hand arpeggios:

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