Understanding the meaning of the various music symbols is the crux of
reading piano sheet music. These symbols were devised over 1,000 years ago and
have become the cornerstone of notating music in the Western world. With
helpful, clear instruction, the world of written music will be within your
grasp. Here are 10 easy ways to learn the music symbols.
#1 - The simpler the note is, the longer it lasts! A plain oval (a whole
note) is worth 4 beats.
#2 - Add a stem and halve its value. An oval with a stem (a half note) is
worth 2 beats.
#3 - Colour it in black and halve its value. A black oval with a stem (a
quarter note) is worth 1 beat.
#4 - If you add a dot after a note, you add on half of its value. A half
note is worth 2 beats. A dotted half note is worth 2 + 1 = 3 beats.
#5 - If you see a # sign, this is called a sharp. It refers to the black
notes on the piano. C is a white note. C# is the very next black note up from C.
#6 - If you see a "b" sign (it will be a pointed b), this is called a
flat. Again it refers to the black notes on the piano. D is a white note. Db is
the very next black note down from D.
#7 - "p" in music stands for piano. This means play quietly.
#8 - "f" in music stands for forte. This means play loudly.
#9 - The treble clef refers to the notes above Middle C on the piano.
#10 - The bass clef refers to the notes below Middle C.
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