How to Read Music FASTER with this Special Technique

– Hey there, everybody. Tim here from Lessons On The Web, and today in this video I’ve got some great tips for you on how to become a lot, a lot better at reading sheet music. And make sure to stick around towards the end of the lesson where I’ll have a special assignment for you so you get the most of what we’re talking about. So let’s get started. Alright, everybody. So today’s lesson is all about intervals, like I stated in the intro. So what we’re gonna do first is a quick review on how to read music for both the treble clef and the bass clef. So if you remember, it’s all about, by the way I want to tell you, a little annotation will pop up, check out my first few piano lesson videos in my learn how to play piano series to learn all the basics on reading sheet music if you haven’t done that already. Of course you’ll want to do that before we really dive into this, but I’ll give the rundown on how it works.

So we have these two things, or two clefs, right? You have your treble clef and you have your bass clef down here. Treble clef is played mostly with your… Nope, actually with your right hand. Actually, this would be your right looking at it on the screen and that would be my left. It’s always really weird pointing it to a screen, but anyway, treble clef up here is right hand, bass clef down there is left hand. So just want to make that clear. So how this works is… There are five lines and four spaces on the staff. So here’s a line, here’s a line, here’s a line, here’s a line, and there’s a fifth line. And then you have four spaces in between those. Depending on which line or space the note falls under, it tells you what note to play.

And we’re on the piano to play it. Again, look at those older videos of mine if you want the rundown on how that works. This is building upon that, really telling you how to get better. So remember that the lines of the treble clef are E, G, whoops, could make that G a little better, G, B, D, and F, and that the spaces over here are A, or no, not A, sorry, F, I was thinking of the bass clef, A, C, E. It also spells the word face, and you always want to count from the bottom line or space to the top one or else this won’t work. So remember that instead of, you can either memorize E, G, B, D, and F or you can memorize a little saying to go along with that to help you learn those better, like Every Good Boy Deserves Fries or Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge, something like that, so long as the first letter of each of the words in the saying corresponds to one of the letters that you have.

So say you have a note right here on the second line, oh, I wrote it over here, right there. Well, what note is that? That is G. I can actually move the note right along where I wrote it. Same thing works here on the spaces, so if I have a note on that top space, that note is gonna be E right there. Bass clef works the same way, except the lines and spaces are slightly different. This time we have G, B, D, F, and A or Good Boys Deserve Fries Always or Good Bunnies Deserve Fudge Always or Great Big Dogs Fight Animals or something, you know, so long as the first letters correspond with each of these. That’s how I suggest you do that. And next, we have the spaces of the bass clef, which are A, C, E, and G, or All Cows Eat Grass.

And again, say I have a note on that third space. Well, that note is gonna be E. So that’s how you want to learn your notes for the treble clef and the bass clef. So we’re just gonna move right along here. Okay, so what I’m gonna talk about now, this is where the real meat of the lesson begins. So say you’ve learned all that, and you’ve been practicing it, and you’ve gotten so far and you wanna take it to the next level, this is how you do it.

You need to start thinking about things in terms of intervals. Well, what is an interval? An interval is the distance between two notes. So if you have like this note and this note… (plays notes) that’s an interval. This note and this note… (plays notes) that’s an interval. Interval, interval, interval, interval, interval. And there’s a bunch of different types. Basically they go from… If you can’t do it on a piano, but if you and your best friend sang the same note at the same time, we would call that a unison. So if you hear the term singing in unison, that’s what they’re talking about. You’re singing the same note. Now, if you have a note and the very next note, that is what’s called a second. One, two. So you just count the notes up to where you’re going to figure out the interval. So say you have a note, you skip a note, and then you have the next note. Well, that interval is one, two, that’s a third. The next one is obviously a fourth, so obviously it goes one up each time.

Fifth, sixth, seventh, and then an eighth. The other name for eighth we know is an octave, of course. So you wanna become aware of how these intervals look on the piano so you know a second will always be a note and the next note. Like a second here, that’s a second because you have a note and then the very next note. You have a second here because you have a note and the very next note. Now you may notice, we’re not gonna go into too much detail about this, because this lesson is I don’t wanna make it too confusing, but keep in mind that some of the seconds are a whole step away, depending on where they are in the keyboard. So from like C to D, well, that’s a whole step because there’s actually a note, you go up a half step, which is the smallest amount of movement you can move on a piano, you go up another half step and that equals a whole step.

But from E to F, because there’s no black key there, that’s a half step. But they’re both seconds. And then a third, you can figure out a third anywhere on the piano because it’s a note, skips a note, and has another note. That’s like even if you had a note here, you had that note you didn’t play, and then you played that note, that is a third as well. If you’re good at your major scales, a third is just the third note up on the scale. And then there also are two different versions of the thirds, but we’re just talking about the strict third. You know, you play a note, you skip a note, play the next note, that’s your third. A fourth goes up like that from like C to F, that would be a fourth.

C to G, which would be like a note, you skip a note to this note, you skip that note to that note to there, so basically one, two, three, four, five. These are all fifths. And if a move both notes up by the same amount, I still have a fifth because the distance is the same. So start to become aware of where the fifths happen, like from G, what would a fifth above G be? Well, think about it, maybe leave any comments, it will be a D, right? Because you go one, two, three, four, five.

And an octave we should all kinda know because that’s just from one letter to the same letter, just up an octave. So here’s how these look. So here’s our second, right? So, say we have from F to G. That’s a second. Now here’s where it comes in. So going beyond just reading them notes, so I could read those two notes separately, right, F and G? Or what I could do is read one of the notes, F, and know that it’s a second and immediately I know where to play the second note. Now, I’m so good at reading music now, I’ve been doing it for a long time, that I can read multiple notes all at once, but it really helps to see how notes are clustered together in intervals to be able to tell where to play the notes. It’s especially helpful if you have something like this, a lot of notes all at once.

It’s like, oh, man, how do I read all those notes? Well, I play the F, I know the next one’s a second, I know the one above that’s a third, and then another third. And so I can play that chord way, way faster than I would have just individually reading the notes. So if you want to get better at reading music, you need to learn these intervals. So here’s the second. And seconds look the same way no matter where they are on the staff. Now what I mean by that is, say I move this up and down on the staff. You see how the second doesn’t change, like it’s still a note and then the note right on top of it? No matter where I move it on the staff, you know that that’s the second.

Like if I had to read those two notes right now, I play the A, and my brain knows that’s a second, so I know exactly what note to play right away. So it really helps out with that. Keep in mind that if a note starts on a space, the second is gonna be on a line no matter what. If the note begins on a line, the second above it is going to be a space. The inverse is true, so you can have intervals that go down as well, where you have one interval above and one interval below, that works the same way. (plays notes) Okay, there’s your second. Next we’re gonna do a third.

So from like E to G is a third, right? One, two, three. Third. What does a third look like? Well, a third looks like the beginning of a snowman, right? You have the bottom part, the middle part, and the top. Just pretend like they’re all the same shape. I know the bottom for a snowman should be larger, but in this case they’re all the same. So if you see that, no matter where it is on the staff… see how it’s just evenly spaced? So if it begins on a line, the second one is gonna be on a line.

If you have the one begin on a space, I mean the first note you have, by the way, the next one is gonna be on a space. So it’s always line to line, space to space, no matter what. And that’s where all the thirds are on the piano. So say I had that cluster of notes right there. And I just, instead of individually reading those two separately, which isn’t too hard, just two notes, I can just read the A and immediately know that that next note is a third above it, just by using that spacing.

So the spacing and the intervals really helps you grab ahold of how to read the music even better. Okay, and then this is a third right here. Okay. Oops. Alright, next we’re gonna talk about a fourth. So we have from like F to B would be a fourth, right? You have one, so here’s one. Two would be the next line, three would be the next space, and four is this next line. So you can either count them up there or you can count them on the keyboard, one, two, three, four. So there’s your fourth. Now there’s two different versions of the fourth as well. But don’t worry about that right now. We’re not going through that in this lesson. And if you notice, for a fourth, if the first note begins on a space, the next one is gonna be on a line.

But if I change it so the bottom one’s on a line, the top one is now gonna be on a space. (plays notes) So say this is where the practicality’s gonna come in. So say I have this cluster of notes, and I’m like, oh, man, how am I ever gonna play that in time? Well, I’m gonna play the bottom note, G, and then use my intervals to figure out the rest of the notes. I know I have a fourth, a third on top of that, remember it looks like a snowman, the third I’m talking about is right here. And then from here to here it goes from space to line, so that’s a fourth. So our chord’s gonna be… (plays notes and chord) Now it’s pretty hard to hit, I kinda have to roll that chord, like that.

But that’s how you play that chord, so I was able to read that chord way, way faster, like 10 times faster than if I did it reading each individual note. Okay, so… Whoops. Should keep the fourth here so we can come back to it. So here’s our fourth. Whoops. There you go. There it is. Okay, so here we go. Next we’re gonna talk about what number? The fifth, right? So if have like from space, you skip a space, and then out of the next space that would be a fifth, right? Same thing if you had it on a line, you skipped a line, and then you had the next line, that would also be a fifth. So say I need to read these two notes real quick, I play the bottom note, E, and then I use my calculations of intervals and I know that that’s a fifth right away. Now remember, stick around for the end of the lesson ’cause I’ll give you like a little practice assignment where you can really get good at this stuff if you practice it every day.

So that’s our fifth. And by the way, these are the same for the bass clef, too. So even though I’m writing them all in treble clef just to show you, a fifth up here is the exact same as a fifth down here. Like if I had from that to that, that C to that G, that that would also be a fifth. So the spacing is the same no matter what. Say I have from F up to D.

So basically what we have is I have a note, we skip a space, we skip another space, and then this note is on the very next line above that. So you have space, space, line. Or if you had it flipped, like you start on a line… Whoops. Then the top one’s gonna be a space, so they don’t match up. How I would think about this is all the even number intervals, so like two, four, and six, if the note begins on a line, the top one’s gonna be a space. So they’re swapped. If the bottom one begins on a space, top one’s gonna be on a line. That’s just how it works, and then all the odd number intervals like three, five, and seven, those will match. So if you have a bottom one of a line, the top one’s gonna be a line. If you a bottom one of a space, the top one’s gonna be a space.

So this is our sixth, right? So you play from G up to this top note right here, one, two, three, four, five, six. And right away I know that that’s a sixth. There’s two versions of those two, don’t worry about them right now. We’re just going over strictly the number for today. What about a seventh, right? So F, and remember I said the top one also has to match, ’cause it’s an odd number interval of a seventh, also used in seventh chords, which we’ve talked about a little bit. And that’s where the term from the seventh chord comes from, is that the distance between the bottom and the top is a seventh.

So from like F to E, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, and there you go. And if you want to play a seventh really easy, you just play your note, go up an octave, and then come back down a note, and there’s your seventh right away. Instead of having to count all the way up to seventh, it might be easier to do the octave, ’cause we know where the octave is, and coming down from there. So there’s your seventh, sixth, fifth, fourth, third, second, and then your unison, which you can’t do on the piano. So there’s our seventh. And then keep in mind with the seventh, like I mentioned before, if I move that bottom one to a line, notice how the top one goes to a line. Space, space, whoops, space, space, line, line, space, space. Just like that. The last one we’re gonna do today is an octave, which we’ve talked about before, which is from one note of a letter, like so from C up to the next C, that’s an octave.

From D to D is an octave. E to E. F to F. Let me just write octave right here. Okay, and that’s our octave, so if you see that, keep in mind that even though the octave is a very even interval, like it’s an even number, that it doesn’t match. So if the bottom’s a line, the top note is gonna be a space. If the bottom note is a space, top one is going to be a line. So let me show you where the practicality comes in and where you can put this to use, since this is really why we’re here. So this comes into play, like if had these strings of four notes, right? And I said, ready, read them fast, go play them on the piano. And you were like, oh, man, I don’t know what to do. I can read the bottom note, but I don’t know if I can read these other three notes really quick. Well, I have an E, right? And don’t get me wrong, you have to study your intervals to get this, like from E and then that next one I know is a fourth up.

I know it’s some kind of even number interval because this one is a line and this one is a space. See how this one’s a space and this one’s a space? I know that that’s some kind of odd number interval, ’cause with odd number intervals, they both match. Even ones, they don’t. So this one is an… I know it right away, it’s an even number interval. And it looks like a fourth to me, ’cause the second would be too close and a sixth would be too far away. So that’s our fourth, so I just go up a fourth.

I know what that looks like on the piano really well. I go to the next one, two spaces, right? So that’s an odd number interval. Well, it can’t be a third, ’cause a third would look like a stacked snowman and then this is further apart. So I know that’s a fifth, and then I know the next one’s a third because it goes from space to space. So if had that G right here, that would be right there. That would look like the stacked snowman like we talked about. And that’s how we do it. So if I use the intervals really quick… (plays notes) like that, I can read those notes a lot faster. So say you had more of a practical passage of music.

Just for example’s sake, we have like this. So let’s play this back. (notes play) So right away, I see these notes here, F… Well, I’m not gonna read them all out loud, but you have space, line, space, line. So whenever you have a pattern of notes going from a line to the next space to the next line to the next space right next to each other, they’re all seconds. So I know right away if I hit this bottom note F, I know those four notes are right in a row on the piano. And then coming down one to the A, that steps down by a second, and then from the A to this one, that’s going from a space to the next line, so that has to be a second, too. These are all seconds. (plays notes) So you can use them to read passages of music, as well.

Okay, anybody have any questions so far? I’ll leave most of the questions at the end, but just kinda curious if anybody is lost. And anything about intervals or reading music. Okay, now we’re gonna work on the bass clef a little bit. So the bass clef works the exact same way. So say I have this pattern of notes. So what intervals do I have? So remember to use the space line rule to figure out whether you have an odd number interval or an even number interval. Right away here I know that this is an even number interval because it goes from a space, and the top one doesn’t match. So that has to be some kind of even number interval. Well, it’s not a second, because the second would be right next to it. It’s not a sixth, the sixth would be way up here. So it has to be a fourth. So right away, again, begin with a fourth. This time though starting from the A.

(plays notes) And then this one, the distance between this one and this one, they’re both lines so it must be an odd number interval. And then here we have from line to space. So what kind of interval is that? Is that an even number interval or an odd number interval? Well, it has to be an even number interval because this one’s a line and this one… Or this one’s a line and then this one’s a space, so that’s a sixth. So right away… (plays notes) I can use my intervals to figure out that pattern of notes. It works the same for treble clef and the same for bass clef. So I’m gonna take Rich’s question: “Regular intervals are fine, “then minor intervals get involved, I get confused.” So hold on there. We will do another vert– like another continuation of this lesson at some point where we talk about the minor intervals, but just the gist of this lesson, anyway, is just to get the number intervals match up. Okay, I have a note and the next note.

And you ask yourself a series of questions. First question is, if the first note begins on a space, does the top note, the next note, match that note, meaning, is it also a space? Or is it a line? Well, in this case it’s a line, right? So you have some space to line, so does that mean that we have an even number interval or an odd number interval? Well, it means that we actually have a… even number interval, since they don’t match, right? So like a second wouldn’t match because a second would go from F to G, right? A fourth wouldn’t match, because that would go from like that to that.

So just figuring that out, you can tell exactly whether it’s an odd number interval or an even number, and then you can also tell how far apart they are. That’s the main thing you wanna get from this lesson. We will do the minors and everything else a little bit later on. Yeah, exactly, so you know right away that it was an even number interval. Very good. So we’re going to do… Let me bring it up here. Wait, let me get us ready here. So in the description of this video you’ll find a link to the assignment where you can practice what we talked about. Now what you wanna do is you want to set the settings right, so what we’re gonna go for right now is we’re just gonna select all of the uppercase intervals.

Actually, what I would do is I would unclick all of them, and then click major and perfect, and those are the ones you want. We’re not gonna select any of the other ones, we’re not gonna select the minors or the diminished or any of that stuff. We’re gonna make it as easy as possible. And at first, you might want to select no accidentals and then go on to sharps and flats if you’re feeling confident in that. We’re gonna do no accidentals. So remember that you can find this in the description, the link to this. And you hit okay. And then what I want you to do is it’s an interval identification assignment. So ask yourself, what interval obviously is this? Well, it goes from a space to a space, right? Well, they match, meaning that you have a space and another space. So is it an odd number interval or an even number interval? Well, it has to be an odd number interval for them to match like that, and those look relatively close. The first odd number interval we have is a third, so I’m willing to bet that that’s a third.

You also want to play the two notes. This will also give you some practice reading the intervals as well and playing them. That’s where it comes through, and you want to do a bunch of these. I would do 20 a day for the next two weeks and see how you do. Okay, so we’re gonna say you want to hit the uppercase M, that just means major third. Because remember, we’re only using the uppercase ones for right here. We’re doing the uppercase M2, M3, P4, P5. I’ll explain what those are about later. M6 and M7. So you’re really like these two rows here. Oh, M3 I meant to hit. That’s right, I accidentally hit the wrong one. So it says identify interval. What interval do we have? It’s space and space, so it must be some kind of odd number interval.

It’s a little further away than before, so I’m willing to bet that that’s a fifth. So you’re gonna hit P5. What about this one? You go from a line to line. They look fairly close. You also want to be looking at how far away these are from each other. Well, if it’s line to line, it must be an… even number interval, of course. Nope, actually an odd number interval. And that looks like a third to me, since it’s pretty close… (plays notes) together, they’re not really far apart. So that’s a third.

And you want to go through these. Like I said, you want to play them as well and then go through them as quick as you can, but first you’ll have to go slow. So here we have, I can read that first note, D. The very next note, is that on a line or a space? Well, it’s on a line, right? And they don’t match, so it has to be an even number interval. They’re really close together. In fact, they’re right next to each other. So that has to be a second. I got it right. What about this one? Well, that’s a number… Well, you can answer in the comments, but think about it for a second. You have a line, then a line, so it has to be some kind of odd number interval.

It has to be a third. And you want to go here, and like I said, you want to do 20 of these a day. Try it for a month, seriously. You may be saying, do I really have to do that for a month? Yes. In fact, you may even want to do it more than that. But let me just go through a few more of these. So this is, I have a space and another space, so it has to be an odd number interval, and it has to be larger than a third, because the third would be closer together.

And it’s not a seventh, since a seventh would be kind of far apart. So I’m gonna say fifth. I’m gonna play these two notes, by the way. (plays notes) Then see if they match. (notes play) And they do. So say you do this for a few days, and you’re like, I need some extra challenge, you know. So I’m gonna end the exercise. I had one error by mistake. I accidentally hit the wrong one. So basically what you want to do for extra practice is go to exercises at the top, you go to intervals, identification, click on that. It takes a second to load or so, but not too long. There you go. And then you want to click descending, as well. Ascending and descending. And add in sharps or flats if you want, but actually, let’s just do just descending, but you wanna do both after a while. And I’ll show you how this works. So here I have two intervals, right? Or one interval, really, two notes. I have a note on a line, and then there’s a note down below, and say I’m not very good at reading the ledger lines yet, well, I can ask myself, is the next note on a line or a space? Well, it’s on a line.

In fact, they’re both lines, meaning that has to be an odd number interval. Now is this interval far apart, or is it real close together? Well, it’s kinda in the middle, right? So if they’re pretty close together and it’s line and line, it’s probably gonna be a third. So this one is even step below that, or one line below that. So that’s gonna be a five. So I’m gonna play this, and then I’m gonna go one, two, three, four, five. Play those two notes. Let’s see, did we get it right? You click five. (notes play) That was it. Nailed it. Next one. So we have line and line, it has to be an odd number interval. They’re pretty close, so that’s a third. So hopefully you can see already that by figuring out whether they match or not, line, space, space, line, and then judging by how far away they are, you can actually figure out notes without having to read every individual note.

This is especially good for chords as well, like I had done in the explanation part of the video where I was stacking notes on top of one another, and I was doing the third and the the fourth and then the second, and then I could play that chord much, much faster. Trust me, practice this every day for a month and then let me know how you did in the comments to this video. Let me know if it’s helped you read music. It really should. It’s really helped me read music a lot faster after I became aware of intervals. Alright, everybody, so that concludes our lesson today. Remember to leave a like on this video, ’cause it lets other people know that they can learn from this lesson just like you did, and remember to subscribe because more great lessons are of course on the way. I have one more thing to tell you, and that’s what Lessons On The Web is all about. Lessons On The Web is all about helping you achieve your dream, learning how to play the piano, so that you can share that gift with everybody around the world. So thanks as always, and I’ll see you in the next video.

Thank you very much..

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