Learning Music Theory Effectively

Why Reading Music Notes is Not Going to Make You a Musician

Posted by in Music Theory Rudiments

Reading music notes will not make you a musician. It’s really simple, to read music notes is to only learn to recognize a note on a staff and know what name and tone to play and for how long.

Many want to be musicians start out asking about how to sight read music; thinking that they can take a little time to sight reading music and they will be able to play an instrument.

The Fallacy of Musical Notes Reading

reading music notes

Reading Music Notes

The misconception is that you are trying to play music as if it were a point by point endeavor. That’s just like trying to read a sentence by speaking letter by letter. You don’t try to read “see spot run” by saying “s” “e” “e” “s” “p” “o” “t” “r” “u” “n”.

You take a series of letters and make words out of them. Music is a language as well. The combinations of notes create chords which are the words of music.

But I Have To Be Able To Read Music Notes

Yes, the first thing you must do is learn the note names, which are your letters, the note locations of the duplicate letters, and the note symbols which are your time and duration indicators to read musical notes.

The process is to learn the note names and where they are on an instrument. Next you’ll learn the positions on a master staff and how that is related to your instrument. At this point the last thing you must learn is the time duration of notes, which is the rhythm.

Combining the names and time is reading music notes. That is only the first step in playing music.

Music Notes Reading as Words and Sentences

Melody and Harmony

Melody and Harmony

A melody line is single note reading; however, the melody line follows the formation of chords and scales or chromatic form. That is it is working with in a defined structure of words, your chords.

The grouping of notes either stacked on top of each other or sequenced closely to together are most often developed around a scale or chord.

These structures give form and flow to your music. You now have a way to produce a phrase or sentence in music. Just as sentences get diagramed, so can your music be diagramed through chord progressions, scale runs, or arpeggios, which are broken chord notes.

Start Reading Musical Notes

So now you want to start to read music notes, you are now aware that it will take more than just the basics to be able to play fluently and gracefully and become a musician.

The Music Theory Workshop’s Notes Workshop will get you covered for learning names, basic symbols, staff nomenclature and note intervals. The Rhythm Workshop will get you up to tempo on symbols and time duration of notes. The practice exercises will guide you to improving your rhythm skills.

If you’d rather look at individual lessons check out the music note lessons page or rhythm lessons page for specific target areas of interest.

Being a musician means taking the time and effort necessary to not only learn notes, but the rest of the structure of music. As well you’ll need to learn techniques of playing which usually is best taught by a mentor or music teacher of those specific instruments.

Final Thoughts

The last thing to know is that a large number of mentors focus on technique and let music theory languish as part of the day in and day out process. You will be best advised to take your own effort and dig in hard even on your own to learn the music elements in as much detail as possible.

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