Reading notes

When you start a new piece, reading the notes is one of the first difficulties, you just have to read what is written on the scope. Reading the notes is a must for any musician, you cannot escape. It takes time, patience and training.

The more your lecture notes will be fast and accurate, the faster you can concentrate on the music (rhythm, interpretation or speed for example).

In addition to tips for learning music, I will give you some (some have already been mentioned in the previous publication) to work at best reading notes. You are free to follow them or not, half or not at all. There is a lot of common sense and sometimes it’s just what’s missing to do it right.

14 Tips for learning notes

  1. Work little but well and regularly

The first advice to give is to do this exercise of solfege in small dose but regularly. To do too much could disgust you, weary you, annoy you, discourage you…. It is better to do little but often. It is easier to stay focused for a short time and your mind may be less receptive to the passagage of time.

  1. Stay focused

During this exercise, be careful not to be disturbed by external elements such as the phone, children, television etc … A reading of notes deserves your attention and again, it is better to work 5 minutes effective than 20 minutes distractedly and by doing other things at the same time.

  1. Do not read too fast

Especially if you are starting out, do not try to read the notes too fast. It’s a bit like the ophthalmic … it reads easily the first 3 or 4 notes but after that is complicated…

To do it right, you must always know how fast you are “comfortable”. This speed can be measured with a metronome. In any case, take your time, it is especially important not to do bad reading. Better to go slowly and get good reflexes, have good habits than go fast and make mistakes.

  1. Increase the tempo gradually

Once your “cruising speed” is known, increase the tempo gradually. But as in any exercise where we look for speed, it is always necessary from time to time to return to a slow speed.

  1. Go crescendo in the difficulty

Do not try to read notes too complicated. It all depends on your level but if you are a beginner in music or if you are not very comfortable with this exercise, limit your exercise to 1 octave (from Do to Do for example), no more. Try to master some notes then expand as you go. If your progress is fast and solid (no or few mistakes), then you can see bigger (wider range of notes, faster ….)

  1. Read the notes in rhythm

Already discussed in the previous article titled “read the notes “, you can make this exercise of reading notes a double exercise: read notes in rhythm. Two cases may occur:

You make a reading of notes with the same figure of notes (as black for example, in any case no rhythmic notions): be sure to make a very strict reading of notes always in the rhythm, so no hesitation or precipitation. Take a metronome and at each “tic” or “tac”, say the note (aloud it’s even better).

You play random notes or with a score. It is better and in this case, respect the value of each note while reading. Also help yourself with a metronome or beat time with your foot, a pencil, a finger or whatever you want as long as the beat is steady and reliable (that’s why there’s nothing better than the metronome).

  1. Work by “pieces”

Do not get into too long exercises. If you take a score, do a reading on 10 measures for example. Set a goal before you start. There is always a beginning and an end to any exercise. Always favor quality over quantity. Similarly, if there are notes with which you block, you have trouble, do not hesitate to work separately.

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  1. Vary the keys to vary the pleasures!

Do not privilege a key (at random the key of Sol 😉 compared to another (the key of Fa). It would be a shame to master the key of Sol and to be more hesitant in key of Fa. It is necessary to vary the pleasures, so vary the keys. All of the above tips count: speed, exercise time, range of notes, patience…

To acquire a maximum of ease and flexibility, you can do the reading of notes in clef of Sol and key of Fa alternately. You can read a series of notes in clef of Sol then in key of Fa or then change of key with each note (more difficult).

  1. Write the notes to better retain them

Writing musical notes by saying them aloud can be a very beneficial exercise for memorizing. Without going to make the copying with the pace of punishment ;-), one learns much more by writing than by reading only.

  1. Read what you like!

Instead of taking a note reading page, take a work or song that you like for support. Nothing better than to have fun. If you’re starting a new song for example, take it as a note-reading exercise before or during your musical training.

  1. Be one step ahead

A very important point seems to me and not often mentioned, this advice will be just as true when you play. When reading notes, try to have a little bit of time between saying the name of a note and reading the next one. In short, there must be a tiny gap between speech and vision. You must always anticipate the next note, to avoid being surprised, to anticipate without of course altering the quality of your reading. Easier said than done of course, but think about it as it will be very useful when you play your instrument.

  1. Correct or get corrected

This seems obvious but it is better to write it: remember to correct or correct yourself because if errors slip in your reading of notes, you must of course correct the shot immediately. Do not take bad habits or bad reflexes, it will be worse after.

  1. Work and let rest

It can be very interesting to re-work a reading of notes after studying it and succeeding. So, after working on an exercise, put it aside and resume a few times later. A week, a month for example. It’s up to you to see … but it will allow you to see if you put less time, if your work time is faster and your reading of notes still (more) fluid.

  1. What exercises to do?

There are many exercises on the site with a reading of notes scrolling on a staff. This is also the case on Musiclic with this note reading exercise. It’s a good exercise but very sincerely, I think the really beneficial exercise is the one where you have to read the notes as if you were doing it to play a score, which is to read a series of notes that follow each other on a scope. Here are some links on Musiclic to guide you, other exercises are available in music theory games.

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