Bass Clef

This video is an excerpt from my course, How to Read Sheet Music, available to key-notes members. Let’s take a look at the F clef. Here is the symbol: Whichever line this clef is placed on is the F below middle C. For piano music it’s placed on the fourth line from the bottom: Notice how the two dots in the F clef symbol straddle this line? When placed on this fourth line up, it’s called the bass clef. Read more »

Treble Clef

This video is an excerpt from my course, How to Read Sheet Music. This symbol is called a G clef: It’s called a G clef because it curls around the note G. Whichever line the G clef is centered on is G. Let’s see it on the staff… This is a treble clef. “But you just said it’s a G clef!” I can hear you saying. Let me explain. Read more »

Beethoven's Fifth

Question: I really hate to bother you with something so trivial, but I am trying to play a game and I’m stuck since I don’t know anything about music. I need to know what keys to press. It’s the first page to Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. I have 10 white keys and 7 black ones. Could you please help me? Thank you. Teresa Mitchell (Texas, USA) Albert’s reply: Rather than giving you the answer outright, let’s make a little exercise out of your question. Read more »

Bottom Number of Time Signature

Question: What does the bottom number of the time signature tell you about? Upneet (Chandigarh, India) Albert’s reply: In simple meter, the top number of a time signature tells us the number of beats in a measure, the bottom number tells us the note value, or the length of each beat. 3⁄4 for instance indicates that there are three quarter notes per measure, while 3⁄8 means that there are three eighth notes in each measure. Read more »

Compound Meter

One of the more confusing aspects of learning to read music for many music students is compound meter. Also called compound time, I’ve seen virtually all music students and even many music teachers fail to understand its basics. This lesson will clear up the confusion once and for all. Any time signature in which the top number is a multiple of 3 (but not equal to 3) is an example of compound meter. Read more »

Double Flats

Question: I am learning the Schubert Impromptu Op. 90, No. 3. Everything was going great until page 5. That’s when the double flats came into play. I need help on identifying those double flats… I seem to have gone brain-dead. Kat (Huntsville, Alabama, USA) Albert’s reply: Double flats (and double sharps) aren’t as scary as they look. Accidentals (sharps and flats) simply alter the white key reference notes by a half step. Read more »

Finding the Notes on the Keyboard

Question: How does one really remember to look at the key note on paper and find where it is on the piano? I want to be able to see the note and play it on the keyboard. It takes me forever to figure out where the key is. I had this problem when I was in high school, so it is not an age-related problem. Maybe I am not meant to read the notes the way a musically inclined person is? Read more »

Finger Numbers

Question: I can read notes but I don’t know which finger I’m going to use with that note. I just wish to have sheet music with finger number on every note or notes/number/finger chart. Josh Jardinel (Philippines) Albert’s reply: There are several things in your question that are of relevance to piano fingering. First, a universal piano fingering chart isn’t possible because fingering is different for each piece and each player. Read more »

Grand Staff

The grand staff (also called “great stave” in British English) is a pair of clefs connected by a brace and used in particular for keyboard music: Most often, the upper staff has a treble clef, while the lower staff has a bass clef. A common misconception is that the treble clef indicates the right hand and the bass clef the left hand, but this is not at all the case. Clefs do nothing more than indicate the relative range of notes played. Read more »

Half Note

A half note (also called a minim in British English) is a note in traditional Western music notation that is notated with an open note head and a stem. Here is a half note on a five-line staff: When writing a half note (or any note with a stem), if it is below the middle line, the stem points up: Note that if the stem points up, it is drawn on the right side of the note head. Read more »