– How’s it going, guys? Julian Bradley here from themusicalear.com. Today I’m gonna teach you the important parts of reading music. So, is reading music important? Yes it is, I think every musician should learn to read music, at least the basics, which I’m gonna show you in this video. For one, I know quite a few musician friends who are great musicians, but they’ve never learned to read music and I could just see that there’s a source of insecurity for them, they lack confidence, and it always comes up in conversation when we’re talking about music. So, reading music doesn’t have to take long to learn. In fact, I’d say you could do most of the grasping of it in 10 minutes, which is the goal of this video. Obviously after that, you might have to practice it for a few weeks, maybe two weeks. But really, it’s fairly simple, and I’m gonna break down the important things which I think everyone needs to know in this video, enjoy.
(upbeat techno music) So first rule, reading music tells you two things: tells you pitch and it tells you rhythm. Now pitch basically means which notes to play, and rhythm means when to play those notes. So, pitch is the important part. As far as I’m concerned, pitch is the really important part, and the good news is pitch is the easy part to learn. Rhythm, however, is the hard part to learn, It takes a lot longer to learn all these different rhythms, different note lengths, different rest lengths, all these dotted things, triplets, everything. And it’s not as important. For one, you could just listen to the piece of music and learn the rhythm just by listening to it once through. You can also sort of see the rough idea of how the rhythm should sound just by looking at the music, how the notes are spaced out, and all of that. So in my opinion, if you’re just interested in learning the basics of reading music, then don’t worry about rhythm.
Rhythm is what takes a lot of time to learn, that’s what intimidates most people from learning to read music, and, in my opinion, is not that important. (light techno music) So, there are different types of clef, there are two main types of clef, which are treble clef and bass clef. You could think of treble clef as the right hand on the piano, it’s the upper part, and bass clef as the left hand on the piano, it’s the lower part. Now the way music works with any stave is the lines and the spaces are each their own note.
So to move up a note, you go from a line to a space, to a line to a space. The space means the space between the two lines. So with the treble clef, the bottom line is an E, (piano chord chimes) and then the bottom space is an F, (piano chord chimes) then the second line is a G, (piano chord chimes), the second space is an A, (piano chord chimes) and then it just goes up from there.
So, B, C, D, E, and F. (piano scale music) Now the easy way to identify notes quickly is to use an acronym to remember the five lines. So, the common one I was always taught is, “Every Good Boy Deserves Food,” and, really catchy, I know, but it stuck and that’s what I’ve always used. And if you have your own acronym that you use, please post it in the comments below. So, Every for E, Good for G, Boy for B, Deserves for D, and Food for F. And then some people like to do the same for the spaces, and they’ll use the word FACE, which is what the spaces spell out.
But if you’d like, you could just use the lines to remember the spaces. So for example, you have E, G, B, well, B plus one is gonna be C, or D plus one is going to be E. Now the other thing to mention is that these aren’t just any old E, not just any old G, any old B. These are actually specific notes within a specific octave. So with the treble clef, the bottom E is specifically the E above middle C on the piano. (light techno music) Now, it’s also possible for these notes to go above and below the stave. So there’s just five lines, but obviously these notes can go above those notes and when this happens, we use what’s called ledger lines. And these are pretty logical, they’re basically just lines which get added to that note, so that you can measure up beyond the top F and below the bottom E. And it gets a bit tricky sometimes to read these ledger lines ’cause you’re not often looking at them. But sometimes you have to sort of count up, literally, every single note, and that’s fine, that’s natural. (uplifting techno music) So next up, we have the bass clef.
Now, with the bass clef, unfortunately, we don’t have the same letters, although it could very nearly be the same as E, G, B, D, F, it’s a bit of a shame. We actually have to learn a new acronym to remember this one. I guess it’s not an acronym, a rhyme though, to remember the lines. So with the bass clef, the lines go G, B, D, F, and A. (piano scale music) Some people use Good Boys Deserve Fine Apples, some people use Grizzly Bears Don’t Fear Anything, and in fact, I actually prefer the ones that don’t have Good Boys Deserve, because you can get confused with the treble clef and the bass clef, since they’re both very similar. So I woulde use Grizzly Bears Don’t Fear Anything, because there’s less likely that you’ll get confused with the treble clef. Now it’s also important to know where on the keyboard these five notes are, G, B, D, F, A.
So the way to remember the register is that middle C is one ledger line above the top line of the bass clef. So this is actually a good way that you can remember both the treble clef and the bass clef. They’re actually sort of like a mirror of each other because on the treble clef, middle C is one ledger line below the bottom line, and then with the bass clef, middle C is one ledger line above the top line. So if you take nothing else from this lesson, you can just remember where middle C is, then from that, you can either count up or count down and figure out any notes. So it might take you some time, but that’s certainly something you can do as a last resort method.
(light techno music) Now in music, any of these notes can be sharpened, which means raised up half step, and any of these notes can be flattened, which means they’re lowered a half step. Now, the way that we write a sharp is like this, so you’ll see this little sign, it’s basically the pound sign on a phone, and it will appear just before the note which is to be sharpened. So see if you can tell me which note we’re looking at here.
Well, it’s the lowest space in the treble clef, which means it is, that’s right, an F, and there’s a sharp sign in front of it, which means it’s an F sharp. Now, to flatten a note, we have this sign, basically like a tiny B, and it goes just in front of the note which is to be flattened. So let’s see if you can work out which note this is. So, it’s treble clef, we’ll use the rhyme, Every Good Boy, so its’ a B, and there’s a flat sign in front of it, which means it’s a B flat. Now once and sharp or a flat sign has been used, it doesn’t just affect that one note. It also affects any repeats of that note for the rest of that bar. So if there was another F, or another two or three F’s played after that F sharp, well they well all be made F sharps. Or if there’s another B after that B flat, well that will also be played as a B flat as well.
And then once you get to the next bar, you’ll get a bar line, which is a vertical line, then it resets and then any B’s or F’s will be B naturals after that. Now there’s also a natural sign, which looks like this, and this symbol basically undoes the effect of the sharp or the flat from earlier in the bar. So say you had the F sharp, but then on the repeat of the F sharp, you actually had this natural sign just before it, that would mean it’s back to F natural again, and then if there were any repeats of that F in the rest of the bar, it would be played a natural. So this natural also gets used, and it’s basically a way to undo the effect of the sharp or the flat.` (light techno music) And one final point to make on sharps and flats is that the very beginning of the piece, you might have what’s called a key signature. Key signature is basically a display of sharps or flats. So you might have say F sharp and C sharp at the very beginning of the piece before the music even starts.
And it basically means that this will be valid throughout the piece. So every time you see and F, it’s gonna be an F sharp, every time you see a C, it’s gonna be a C sharp. (light keyboard music) Now at the beginning of the video, I said I wasn’t gonna cover rhythm, however there is one thing I just wanna say on rhythm, and that’s about time signatures. So, if you look at the beginning of the piece of music, just as I said, there’s a key signature, you’ll also see a couple of numbers on top of each other and this is what’s called the time signature. Now these two numbers tell you what type of time signature the piece of music’s in.
So there’re various time signatures, could be in 4/4, most common, it could be 3/4, could be 6/8, could be 7/8, 5/8, all these different time signatures. Now the important number is the top number. So, it tells you how many beats are in the bar. So if you see 4/4, that means there are four beats in the bar: one, two, three, four, one, two, three, four, one, two, three, four. If it’s 3/4, that means there are three beats in the bar: one, two, three, one, two, three, one, two, three, which has more of a waltz feel, for example. If it is 6/8, then it has a sort of swing type of feel: one, two, three, four, five, six, one, two, three, four, five, six, one, two, three, four, five, six, and so on. And then bottom note is less important. It tells you what type of beat that is. But it’s not too important, whether it’s a four or it’s an eight, usually it’s one of those two.
So that can also be useful to understand what those two numbers at the beginning of the music are, well, it’s the time signature. (soft keyboard music) So finally, I’m just gonna go over a few remaining notation markings, which you’ll also encounter in music. First up, we have dynamics, what are dynamics? Well it means how loud or soft you want to play. So generally, you have P and you have F. So you’ll see these F’s and these P’s scattered about the music. F stands for fortissimo, and it means play it loud, and P stands for piano, which means play it quietly. Now, sometimes composers will stack up the F’s, which means basically the more F’s, the louder.
Same with the P’s, goes down to about triple P, it’s pretty rare to see anything beyond that. You’ll also get MF and MP, and that just means mezzo forte or mezzo piano, mezzo basically means medium. So you’ll have medium loud and medium quiet. So if we just take a look at this diagram, you’ll basically see from the far left, you have the quietest going through to the far right, where you have the loudest. And another dynamic marking you’ll also see is the sort of hairpin notation. So when the hairpin expands to the right, this is called a crescendo, it means get louder. And then when a hairpin gets smaller to the right, that’s a diminuendo, and that means get quieter. (soft techno music) Now if you’re a piano player, you’ll also encounter pedal markings. Basically, you’ll see a sustained line below the stave. As long as that line is sustained, it means hold down the pedal. And then when there’s a break in it, it means clear the pedal, and then it will start again. (soft piano jazz) Now finally, you’ll want to practice this, it’ll probably take a couple of weeks to engrain everything which I’ve just shown you.
Now there are two ways to practice reading music. The first is to find some sheet music and practice sight-reading. Now, I’ll put a link below this video to some of my free sheet music as my 5 Note Extravaganza piece, which is a medley I posted recently, comes with a backing track. (soft piano jazz music) And the second way is to practice notating your own compositions, so maybe have a piece of music you play, you’ll practice finding the notes and writing them out on the stave.
(light techno music) So I really hope this video has boosted your confidence, I hope you can now look at a piece of music and feel that you can find your way around it, you can work out the pitches, the dynamics, the pedal marks, the time signature, key signature, I hope this has really boosted your confidence at reading music ’cause it shouldn’t be something that holds you back. Now, if you enjoyed this video, I would really appreciate a thumbs up. Make sure you don’t miss out on future videos by subscribing to my channel, and I have a free giveaway which is eight of my license-free music tracks, so these are compositions just like the ones you heard in the interlude for this video, and these are license-free music, which means you can use these in your own creative projects, whether it’s video-making, podcasts, gaming, whatever, you can use these for whatever you’d like. And you can also check out my complete course in ear training at themusicalear.com, this is where I teach you how to play music by ear, which is the other side of things.
And I’ll take you step-by-step from beginner to advanced, I’ll show you how to play at least 95 percent of music by ear. So thanks very much for watching, and I look forward to seeing you again next time. (light techno music).