Learning to Read (Again)

Published by Jerico on

You know that moment when you’ve been practicing a skill or ability for hours and at some point, it finally clicks? Like how to factor out a quadratic equation or do a cartwheel. Well, I think I’ve finally gotten to that point with reading notes – I think.

Close up photo of person holding a sheet music

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels

Of course, my journey in trying to read the cryptic patterns of musical staves began by googling as many resources as I can find. Luckily, the problem wasn’t that there was a lack of resources, but rather a plethora that I struggled to navigate. After an hour of so searching, I stumbled upon a site called musictheory.net.

This site helped me dip my toes into the confusing world of music theory. There were many resources on here, some a bit too far ahead of where I was. However, I did utilize the first couple of lessons that introduced me to the basics of the treble and bass clef.

Self-taken Screenshot of Treble Clef Notation

Self-taken Screenshot of Bass Clef Notation

This particular lesson roused a memory deep from my childhood where there were specific mnemonics that helped students remember the note placements on the staves. I couldn’t quite remember the phrases myself, but luckily, I found a video by LivingPianoVideos explaining the exact method I remembered.

The treble clef lines could easily be remembered by matching the phrase “Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge,” whereas the bass clef was memorized as “Good Boys Deserve Fudge Always.” Further, the spaces on the treble clef spelt out FACE and the spaces on the bass clef spelt ACE + G.

These mnemonics helped me for the first few days as I tried to memorize the sequences of notes, but having to recount the first seven letters of the alphabet backwards and forwards to figure out what note I was looking at didn’t seem the most efficient.

At this point, I figured I’d need to find some other way to remember these quickly. Thankfully, I found an amazing Quizlet set of flashcards that helped commit these notes to memory. Now, I can’t run through these cards at lightning speed – yet – but I’ve learned a few tricks to skip around my old methods.

Now that I had a much more familiar grasp, I decided to move on to the more specific terms and symbols. I went back to my Google searches and found some useful infographics and lessons about note and rest durations

Note Length Duration infographic via https://www.musictheoryacademy.com/how-to-read-sheet-music/note-lengths/

Rest Duration Infographic via https://piano-music-theory.com/2016/05/30/types-of-rests-rests-duration/

The last bit of terminology and notation that I figured I should learn before I move on to the piano and learning scales were dots, ties, time signatures, and sharps and flats. I figured that musictheory.net, the website before, was still a solid resource and continue the basic lessons from there.

Self-taken Screenshot of Time Signatures

Self-taken screenshot of Dots and Ties

Self-taken screenshot of Flats and Sharps

That pretty much concludes my first official week of learning the piano. Admittedly, there wasn’t much piano in this week’s post, I figured I should take this slowly and not get too in over my head. Realistically, I have about 10 more weeks to accomplish my goals and I’m in no rush to finish this project. Anyways, thank you very much for reading my second blog post this semester and I’ll see you in the next one!


Amy · September 19, 2022 at 7:26 pm

Hi Jerico, it looks like you had a busy week! That is a lot of information to cover in a week. It looks like you have found a lot of great online resources. I know how to play piano but it has been a very long time since I have put it to practice. However my 5 year old daughter takes piano lessons and I am always fascinated at some of the little tricks and stories the teacher uses to teach her the notes and counts.

Emma Robertson · September 19, 2022 at 8:51 pm

Hey, Jerico! You seem to have learned quite a bit this week. I like your slow and steady approach to learning, and I think understanding how to read music is a very important beginning step before starting to play. Good luck, and I’m excited to continue following along your journey!

Jean-Paul · September 26, 2022 at 4:43 am

Hello Jerico! I can see that you were able to find enough information for your learning project. In fact, from my back home experience, seeing the symbols for Piano and their meaning have always been a mystery. With the time here, I got to realize that those symbols have meaning that when combined together gives a song. I wish you all the best for the project and hope to see you playing Piano!.

Robyn Jones · September 27, 2022 at 5:47 pm

Wow Jerico..that is a LOT of information! I love the piano, and have intentions to learn but I never seem to have the time. I will be following your posts with interest to see how you do. Great job with all of the resources you have already shared!

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