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How To Read Sheet Music - The Ten Commandments

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This page includes the Ten Commandments on how to read sheet music.

In order to improve your sight reading remember that sight reading is a procedure that takes some time. My advice to you, practice everyday and don't give up.

Before you practice piano playing why don't you pick a piece you've never played before follow these Ten Commandments and see how far you're going with it?

Choose a piece under your playing level. Remember that fluency is the name of the game!

Here are the ten golden rules on how to read sheet music:

  1. Don't Panic!
  2. Make sure you're aware at any given moment of the:

    a. Clefs (In both hands)
    b. The Musical Scale (If such exists)
    c. The Meter (Again if such exists)
    d. The Beat (There will always, Always be one).

  3. Place your head appropriately.

    Make sure you can see the notes and the keyboard at the same time. It's possible and significant when you wish to learn how to read sheet music.

  4. Read forward.

    Train your eyes to always look to the next one and a half bar (at least) from the bar you're actually playing at the moment with your hands. Anticipation is plays an important role in sight reading.

  5. Gather Visual Patterns Together

    If you see Intervals, Chords, Arpeggios, Scales and such… don't try to read each note apart. Read the pattern as a whole and look for the exceptions.

  6. Respect the Bass

    Mistakes sometimes occur but they sound terrible when you make on in the bass.

  7. Respect the Melodic Line

    This is the most important line after the Bass line. If your music sheet is crowded with loads of information focus on the bass and the melodic line. Leave the rest outside.

  8. When in Doubt - Don't Play

    This rule applies only for separate notes inside more complicated textures, not for visual patterns (See commandment number 5) in their whole.
    The plain truth is that a note sound worse if you play it wrong then if you omit it from a pattern.

  9. Forget the Conventional Fingering

    The conventional fingering tends to cause more mistakes then anything else.

  10. Don't Stop Playing! Ever!

It doesn't matter how huge was the mistake you just made, keep on going and stay in the same rhythm.

Remember that none of these ten commandments demands you to read the music sheet in the final tempo so take all the time you need and most important ...


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