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How to Read Sheet Music: Notes

Updated on August 17, 2013

In order to play an instrument, most of the time you will need to be able to read sheet music. What do those mystical lines and dots mean, and how do they correspond to musical notes? Here I will go over how to read notes on sheet music, with examples based on the piano.

Feel free to go back to How to Read Sheet Music: The Basics or forwards to How to Read Sheet Music: Note Types.

Musical Notes From A to A
Musical Notes From A to A

What Are the Musical Notes?

Musical notes go from A to G and then start over with A.

There are also sharps and flats of each note. Sharps are a half-step up, and flats are a half-step down.

Treble Clef

Now let's take a look at how to differentiate the notes on sheet music, starting with treble clef.

First we will look at the notes in the spaces. These are typically taught as FACE, reading from bottom to top. You can also make up a saying to remember this, such as Forget About Crazy Eyes.

Next we will look at the notes on the lines: E, G, B, D, and F. These are often taught as Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge, but you can make up your own saying. How about Entertaining Gerbils Bring Dave Fun?

Bass Clef

The notes are in different places in the bass clef.

The spaces are A, C, E, G. A way to remember this would be Anyone Can Eat Grubs.

The lines are G, B, D, F, A. A potential saying for this could be Good Boys Don't Forget Algebra.

Here are all of the notes in one place:

Where Are These Notes on the Piano?

Now that we've identified all the notes, where are they located on the piano? This diagram should help:


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