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How to Read Repeats on Piano Sheet Music

Updated on May 1, 2017

Understanding Repeat Marks on Sheet Music

Sheet music can be a little overwhelming for new piano learners especially kids because it is filled with all kinds of musical symbols. Piano scores regularly use different kinds of repeat marks. This makes it easier to write musical compositions but they can be a little confusing. I will explain how some repeat signs work in music using colored blocks to demonstrate how notes should be played. The colored blocks may be especially helpful for children who are trying to understand repeats in music sheets.

How do repeats work in music?

You will often see repeat marks in music that have the numbers 1 and 2 like in the example below. These are very simple to follow. You start from the beginning and play until you reach the end of the number 1 section. Then you go back and play the beginning again. When you reach the number 1 section, you skip it and go directly to the number 2 section.

How do repeat marks like these work?
How do repeat marks like these work?
Play this sheet music repeat example as green, green, yellow, yellow, green, green, blue, blue
Play this sheet music repeat example as green, green, yellow, yellow, green, green, blue, blue

It will be easier to understand using these colored blocks as an example. This reads green, green, yellow, yellow, green, green, blue, blue. You will see that the green part repeats or is played twice. After you play the green blocks the second time, you must bypass the yellow blocks and go directly to the blue blocks.

What does Da Capo mean?

Da Capo is another kind of repeat used in sheet music. Da Capo means head or top. You will often see it abbreviated as D.C. You might also see Da Capo al Fine or Da Capo al Coda or in abbreviated form as D.C. al Fine or D.C. al Coda. Fine (fee-nay) means end.

D.C. al Fine means to go back to the beginning and play all measures until you reach fine. So, you play red, blue, green, red, blue.

In this D.C. al Fine play red, blue, green, red, blue
In this D.C. al Fine play red, blue, green, red, blue

D.C. al Coda means to go back to the beginning and play until you reach the coda symbol (circled in red). Then you skip that section until you reach the next coda symbol.In this example, you play red, blue, green, red, yellow. You play the red, blue and green blocks first. The D.C. al Coda tells you to go back to the beginning, so you play red again. When you hit the al Coda symbol circled in red you have to jump to the next al Coda symbol, which is the yellow block.

You play this D.C. al Coda example as red, blue, green, red, yellow.
You play this D.C. al Coda example as red, blue, green, red, yellow.

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    • Mickji profile image

      Mickji 

      4 years ago from between Italy and Switzerland, travelling around the world thanks to a little special object

      Oki I will wait patiently that you will write it. Meanwhile I continue to search informations online and offline. Music is as a difficult matter as much is beautyful. I thank you for your Hub !

    • Learn Things Web profile imageAUTHOR

      Learn Things Web 

      4 years ago from California

      Mickji,

      I've meant to do it and didn't get around to it. I'll try to make some time.

    • Mickji profile image

      Mickji 

      4 years ago from between Italy and Switzerland, travelling around the world thanks to a little special object

      Hi, your hub is useful, but I wanted to know if there is a part 2 with something about DS and DS al Fine .... These things seems to be easy but they are not ! I'm trying to understand them from some sheet music, but every sheet music is written differently, some have repetition bars some have not, some have different marks from the one you used.... Can you make more examples please? It will be great to understand well how to read repetitions

    • Omnivium profile image

      Omnivium 

      6 years ago

      Looking forward to it!

    • Learn Things Web profile imageAUTHOR

      Learn Things Web 

      6 years ago from California

      You're welcome. I'm working on another hub covering more musical symbols.

    • Omnivium profile image

      Omnivium 

      6 years ago

      I already knew about the first and second ending thing, but thanks for explaining what all the symbols mean!

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