Learn To Read Music In 1 Hour | Kurt Berg | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Intro To Section 1


    • 2.

      The Staff


    • 3.

      Your First Notes


    • 4.

      Piano - Your First Notes


    • 5.

      Find the C's


    • 6.

      Piano - Find the C's


    • 7.

      The Spaces - FACE


    • 8.

      Piano - The Spaces - FACE


    • 9.

      The Lines - Every Boy Deserves Fudge


    • 10.

      Piano - The Lines - Every Boy Deserves Fudge


    • 11.

      Upper Ledgers


    • 12.

      Piano - Upper Ledgers


    • 13.

      Lower Ledgers


    • 14.

      Piano - Lower Ledgers


    • 15.

      Intro To Section 2


    • 16.

      Quarter Notes


    • 17.

      Piano - Quarter Notes


    • 18.

      Quarter Note Example


    • 19.

      Longer Notes


    • 20.

      Longer Notes Example


    • 21.

      Getting Shorter


    • 22.

      Eighth Notes Example


    • 23.

      Sixteenth Notes


    • 24.

      Sixteenth Notes Example


    • 25.

      Dotted Notes and Ties


    • 26.

      Dotted Notes And Ties Example


    • 27.

      Simple Time


    • 28.

      3/4 Time Example


    • 29.

      2/4 Time Example


    • 30.

      2/2 Time Example


    • 31.



    • 32.

      Rests Example


    • 33.

      More Rests Example


    • 34.

      Compound Time


    • 35.

      Compound Time Example


    • 36.

      Intro To Section 3


    • 37.

      Sharps and Flats


    • 38.

      Accidentals Example


    • 39.

      Other Useful Symbols


    • 40.

      Other Useful Symbols Pt. 2


    • 41.

      Triplets Example


    • 42.

      Intro To Section 4


    • 43.

      First Bass Clef Notes


    • 44.

      Piano - First Bass Clef Notes


    • 45.

      Where is the G?


    • 46.

      Piano - Where is the G?


    • 47.

      More C's


    • 48.

      Piano - More C's


    • 49.

      Fill In The Spaces


    • 50.

      Piano - Fill In The Spaces


    • 51.

      The Lines


    • 52.

      Piano - The Lines


    • 53.



  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class

Have you ever looked at a piece of music and thought it looked like a foreign language? Music notation is strange looking at the beginning, but pretty simple once you get used to it a little bit. I'll walk you step by step through everything you need to know to be able to read music and play it on the piano, and in a very short period of time you'll be able to read music comfortably - most students can get through the course in an hour or two.

At the end of this course, you'll be comfortably able to take a completely new piece of music, and understand exactly what's going on. You'll be able to take that music and know how to play it on the piano.

Now this course is NOT a "how to play piano" course. We won't go in depth on piano techniques or exercises, but this course is a great first step if you want to get started on the piano quickly. You'll come out of the course being able to play basic songs and melodies.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Kurt Berg

10+ Year Pro, 100% Success Guarantee


My name is Kurt, and I teach people to play guitar. Here's a little bit about my journey:

For some reason, by the time I was 5, I already knew I wanted to rock. It might have been that my dad played classic rock on the radio 24/7 for my entire childhood...who knows?

In any case, 5 year old me knew that guitar was my calling. The music studio near me told us that guitar is tough for really young kids though, so I waited not-so-patiently and finally had my first lesson the week I turned 10 - and I haven't looked back since.

I took lessons in theory and playing for 8 years, and ended up teaching at that same studio. I left to get my mechanical engineering degree, but I kept teaching on the side to help pay for school. I performed wherever I could, and played in several... See full profile

Level: Beginner

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • 0%
  • Yes
  • 0%
  • Somewhat
  • 0%
  • Not really
  • 0%

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Intro To Section 1: hi and welcome to my course on reading music. My name is Kurt, and I'll be your instructor in this course. We're going to start at the very basics and get you to a point where you're able to sight read fairly complex pieces of music to see how this works in the context of an instrument well of exercises throughout the course on a keyboard. If you don't have a keyboard or piano, you can download a keyboard app for your phone and just fall along in the course. With that, then result will be basically the same, and there tons of free ones. Now, this isn't a how to play an instrument course, so I won't go into depth on technique. But you will get an understanding of how to apply this feel of reading music to your instrument, and I will give you enough basics on technique to play all the exercises in this course. What you will get out of this course is being able to confidently read music of all varieties and be comfortable with all the symbols and notation used in the language of music. Let's get started 2. The Staff: so to read music, we use something called a staff. A staff consists of five lions going horizontal. Across the page. We write notes is blobs either on the lines in between the lines which we call spaces, or above and below the lights. The blobs show us where the note is on the instrument. Higher pitched notes are higher on the staff and lower pitch notes lower on the staff on piano, going to the left plays, lower notes and going to the right place. Higher notes. At the beginning of each line of music, there's something called a cliff. It's a weird, squiggly symbol that tells you what the notes are. This guy is called the Trouble cloth. 3. Your First Notes: Let's learn your first notes. We named notes in Music. The Letters of the alphabet from A to G. So A, B, C, D, E, f and G. The middle of the swirly part of the trouble. Clough is a G. The trouble Clough is also known as the G clef. For this reason, the note of the top of the trouble Clough is an f these air to good reference notes because they're easy to spot. We'll start by learning a bunch of reference notes and then fill in the rest. 4. Piano - Your First Notes: Okay, now let's take a moment to look at your keyboard. Your keyboard is a Siris of white and black keys that alter that repeats in a pattern across the keyboard. So if you take a look at the block, he's, you can see you've got a set of two black keys and then a set of three Blackie's. If you take the notes of the white keys on either side of this, you can see that this pattern just repeats down your entire keyboard. So keyboard is really easy to figure out the notes because they just go in order either forwards going right or backwards going left. There's a C here. The next key is a D. The next key is an E F G A, B C, and so on, and it repeats throughout the entire keyboard. Going backwards is the same thing in reverse. C B A g uh f e d back to see. Not gonna teach you them in order because it's better to learn the actual position of the notes themselves as opposed to, say, knowing where C is and then just counting up from there. So now we'll go over the notes we learned in the last lesson G and F. So the G is going to be right. Here s what you want to do right here is spend a few minutes finding all the G's on your keyboard. Uh ah. Everywhere along the keyboard, the G is one just to the right of your first Blackie. Now the G that aligns with a swirly part of the trouble clef is right here. So you're keyboard May or piano Maybe a different size than mine. So you're gonna wanna listen and hear the G. That sounds same is what I'm playing right now. Your second note is gonna be f now efs. You can see from the G if you count one this way, G f f is gonna be just on the left side of the first Blackie in the set of three. So take a second now to find all the efforts on your keyboard. Now, the F that's at the top line of the staff is going to be right here. So you're gonna want to find the f. It should be the one just to the right of the G. We just played, but you don't want to find the f that sounds like this 5. Find the C's: the next to reference notes are see on DSI. The first C is on the second space from the top. Theo, second see, is actually below the staff. To display this, we use something called a ledger line, which is just a little line to extend the staff downwards. 6. Piano - Find the C's: Okay, Now let's take a look at where these seas are on the keyboard itself. So your first see your lowest see is going to be right here. It's gonna be the one, the key just to the left of the set of two Blackie's to spend a minute now and try and find all the seas on your keyboard. So this is an important note here. This See here this is known as middle C. We'll get into why it's more important later. But for now, remember, this is kind of a special note. So then the second c you're looking at is the one right here. This is your C that's on the second, our second space from the top of the staff. 7. The Spaces - FACE: Okay, Now that you've got a few reference notes, let's fill in the rest. We'll start with all the spaces, which therefore up there. Two ways to remember these and you can use which everyone you find works better for yourself. It's mostly personal preference, so just do which everyone helps you remember them the best. So the first method is by using the acronym Face Us eyes on the bottom space. A eyes on the second space see which we've already done is on the third space, and E is on the fourth space. Some people find that works best, and others prefer just to use the reference notes. To use the reference stoats, you find the closest note to what you're looking for, so in this case, it would be G. From there, you count up or down on each line and space until you get to your note each line or spaces a new note. So here I would start on a G on go down one toe F, and this is an F for the next one. I'd start on an F on countdown won t e. When going up, you count up the alphabet. G a B C and so on. And when going down you count the alphabet in reverse C B, A G, and so on. 8. Piano - The Spaces - FACE: Okay, Now let's go Over where f a c and E. R on the keyboard. So starting off, we already know how to find an F. It's the one. The white key just to the left of the first of the set of three. Blackie's so right here is gonna be the f we want way. We've already played this f here and now we're adding in the second half, which is on the first space. Next comes a If we already know the G and we already know the f It's pretty easy to guess where in a s is gonna be on the right side of the G, which is just to the left of the third Blackie to take a moment now to check out all the A's on your key war. And this is gonna be the A that we learned in the last lesson. So the next note moving up is C, which we've already been through before, and we already know it's right here. And then the final one is E. Now, these are on the right side of the set of two lackeys to take a moment now to find all the keys on your keyboard. Ah, uh, and this e right here is the one we're gonna be playing 9. The Lines - Every Boy Deserves Fudge: Okay, now let's learn the lines. So again, you can either use the reference notes to count from the nearest reference note to the one you're trying to figure out or use an acronym the acronym will use for the lines as every good boy deserves fudge or e g b d f. If you can remember face and every good boy deserves fudge, you can figure out any note. 10. Piano - The Lines - Every Boy Deserves Fudge: But now let's try out our final notes E, g, b, D and F. So we already know where to find most of these. These are gonna be on the right side of the set of two. Blackie's so right here just for memory. And the e we're looking at right now on the bottom line is going to be this one right here . Next comes G, which we've already played on. We know it's right there thing we've got B, which is gonna be on the right side of the set of three black. He's so take a minute now because bees are new to try and find all the bees on your keyboard. Uh uh. On the B we're using right now is right here. Moving on. We've got D's de are in the middle of the set of to block ease. So again, these air new Taking that to find where all the DEA's on your keyboard and the d we're using right now is right here. And then finally is the f, which we already know is right here 11. Upper Ledgers: okay now for the last notes. So we've already seen ledger lines with See, if we want to go higher or lower than the staff, we can just keep adding and ledger lines. Technically, you can go really high with ledger lines, but we'll only bother with a common range for now. So to start will go up to High C, which is on the second ledger line above the stuff. The same rules apply here. Just find a reference note and count up or down. So you referenced notes for this next quiz will be F, which is on the top line of the staff, and see which is on the second ledger line above the staff. 12. Piano - Upper Ledgers: Hopefully by now, you're getting the idea of how we find out different notes on the staff. But now I'll take you through the alleged lines. So starting off, we've got our highest see above the stuff which is going to be all the way up here. And then your other reference note is gonna be your f So we know how to figure out notes By now we know that this is gonna be your G bay be and then up to see. 13. Lower Ledgers: Now let's go lower than the staff. Your reference notes. Here are the sea on the first ledger line and F, which is on the third ledger line you like with above. Find your nearest reference note and count up or down. 14. Piano - Lower Ledgers: And finally, the finish off this section, Let's check out the notes on the lower ledge alights. So a reference notes from last lesson, I'm gonna be the sea right here, which we've already taken a look at and f which is gonna be even lower than that. So by now, you an expert figuring out notes from here and can pretty easily tell that this is gonna be a G on a be on back up to see. 15. Intro To Section 2: in the last section, we learned all the notes and where they're on the keyboard in this section will look at the second most important part of music timing. And we just played a bunch of notes for the same length of time. That would lead to some incredibly boring music. So we had interest to our melodies by changing the timing of individual notes in this section. Lot of exercises to play some simple melodies on the piano so you can see how everything comes together. Trial the exercise after each lesson until you've got the idea now because this isn't a playing piano. Of course, the important part isn't that you can play all the exercise perfectly. It's that you understand all the notes and symbols and what they mean. So try out all the exercises until you understand what's going on. But don't worry about playing everything perfectly before moving on. Okay, let's get started 16. Quarter Notes: Now that you know all the notes, the next step is to add in timing. Combining different notes with different timings is the basis of all music. The first thing to learn for this is 1/4 note. Stems typically go up if the note is in the lower half of the staff and down off the note is on the upper half of the staff. They mean the same thing, regardless of stem direction. The speed you play them isn't fixed, but each quarter note is played for the same length of time is the last one two time this. You can either tap your foot and a steady, even pace or use what's known as a metro. No Metrodome just plays a sound and even interval. You can just download and metronome app from the APP store, and they all do the same thing. And there are plenty of free ones. Using a Metrodome is a great practice technique because it really gets your timing better and gets used to get too used to playing at an exactly even beat. So if I have a melody like this, every note is 1/4 note, which means that every note is played for the exact same length. If I set my Metrodome for 60 BPM or 60 beats per minute, I'll play one note each beat. 17. Piano - Quarter Notes: when play a melody on the piano, you're going to use all five fingers as a general rule, find the lowest known inter melody, which in this one on the screen is gonna be this. See, here on play that with your thought from there, each finger is gonna be placed on the next white key. Do you want to get used to using all your fingers? You will have to jump out of position sometimes, but your goal should be to move your hand as little as possible, which will make it a lot easier to play. So if I play this malady on the screen here, I mean, I have to jump out of position a little bit, but for the most part, I could just stay right here. 18. Quarter Note Example: 19. Longer Notes: the next type of note is called 1/2 note. 1/2 note, reasonably enough, is twice as long as 1/4 note. After that comes the whole note, which is twice as long as 1/2 note. To make a little more sense of this, let's divide our staff with a vertical line. This is called a bar line. It separates a bar or measure. This doesn't do anything to your playing, but it makes it much easier to look at by subdividing. Musical phrases in each bar will have four beats. Ah, whole note is four beats long, which makes sense because it takes up a whole bar. 1/2 note is two beats long or half of our long and 1/4 note is one beat long or 1/4 of a bar. Here are a few examples of different time 20. Longer Notes Example: 21. Getting Shorter: so we can go longer than 1/4 note, but we can also go shorter. The first of these shorter notes is an eighth note, which, as its name implies, is half the length of the quarter Note. Each note division is either half assed long or twice a, so long as the next one to write an eighth note. We take our quarter note and add a little flag to the end. Since an eighth note is only half of it long, we have to introduce a new accounting for this. When counting eighth notes, you'll count one and two and three and four. And so you put an end in between each beat, which serves as the 2nd 8th note or the second half beat. 22. Eighth Notes Example: 23. Sixteenth Notes: Next up is 1/16 note. This, as you make guests, is half the length of an eighth note trait. Thes you add in two flags To count these. We've got a sub divider beat even further by saying one e and ah to ee and three E and four e end. Uh, so you've got four subdivisions of each beat. Often you'll have multiple eight or 16th notes in a row. To write these, you connect them with a beam. The beams notes always add up to one beat, so to eighth notes get joined together with a beat and 4/16 notes. Get double beams together to make up one beat. You can also have a combination of eighth and 16th notes. The same rules apply. If you have a beam, the total must equal one beat, so you could have to 16th notes on 1/8 note or 1/16 note, 1/8 note and then another 60 throat. It still adds upto one beat 24. Sixteenth Notes Example: 25. Dotted Notes and Ties: We can get a lot of different timings with the notes we've seen so far, but we can't get all of them. For example, we can't do 2.5 beats. We can only do two or three to fix this. We used dotted notes and ties. Data notes multiply the length of the note by 1.5, so a dotted quarter note is one plus half of one, which is 1.5 beats. A dotted half note is two plus one equals three beats. A dotted eighth note is 3/4 of one beat and so on. Ties linked together notes for the length of both notes, so you add in the lengths of both together. So this would be 1/4 note tied to an eighth note, so you would be playing this for 1.5 beats. You can tie notes over bars, and it works the same. You can also on Li Tai notes to the same note 26. Dotted Notes And Ties Example: 27. Simple Time: up to now, each bar has had four beats, but this isn't always the case. I've left out time signatures until now, but time signatures air, usually in a piece of music time signatures have to numbers. The top number tells you how Maney beats each bar gets on the bottom number, tells you what note counts, is one beat. The time signature will typically only go on the first line at the very beginning of the music. By the trouble. Chlef 44 is the standard Times adventure. Most songs used 44 times. It means therefore beats, and 1/4 note gets one beat. The next most common time signature is 34 34 means there are three beats in a bar, and 1/4 note gets one. Beat 24 is similar to 34 and 44 If the bottom number is a two, a half note gets one beat. If the bottom number is an eight on eighth note gets one beat. The time signature is only at the beginning of the piece of music, unless it changes some point later in the song, you might also see a sea. Sometimes si means common time, which is the most common timing. So for four, so C is the exact same is 44 28. 3/4 Time Example: 29. 2/4 Time Example: 30. 2/2 Time Example: 31. Rests: Sometimes the best note to play is none at all. Silence can have a powerful effect on music, and we have to have a way to represent it. This is where rests come into play. Rests worked the exact same as regular notes. Each note type has an equivalent rest symbol. Ah, whole rest looks like an upside down hat. Half rest looks like a regular hat. 1/4 rest is just a bunch of squeals. An eighth rest is kind of like a stem with one flag, and the 16 thrust is a stem with two flags. The only unique thing is that the whole rest can also mean to just rest the whole bar, even if it's not for beats. Otherwise, everything is counted exact same as their note counterparts. 32. Rests Example: 33. More Rests Example: Teoh? Uh huh. 34. Compound Time: there's one other type of time signature called a compound time signature. A compound time signature is one where the top number is divisible by three. So the top number is 69 or 12 the main beat. And these is subdivided into three, giving a 123 pulsing type of pattern. For example, a time signature where the top number six will have two main meets per bar. When the top number is nine, each bar will have three main beats, and when the top number is 12 each bar will have four main beats. Let's that in the bottom number, the most common example of compound time is 68 time. That means there are 6/8 notes, and that it beat is 3/8 notes long. Visually, this shows you where to place your beam on your short notes. Because each beam is one beat, the second most common one you'll see is 12 4 This means there 12 quarter notes and to beat his 3/4 notes long 35. Compound Time Example: 36. Intro To Section 3: Now that we've gotten notes and timing, you can pretty much read. Most. Music in this section will go through a bunch of important symbols and notation that we haven't covered yet to fill in some of the missing pieces. 37. Sharps and Flats: there are a few final types of notes to go over which we've been avoiding for a while. These are called accidental. They raise a note upper down just a little bit. So in between two notes on a piano, these air the black keys. The two symbols are a sharp or flat, a sharp raises. The note on a flat lowers enough. The piano is a good demonstration of this. The white keys air, the notes and the black keys air the sharps and flats thedc E one to the right of a notice of sharp. So this is a C on that's a C sharp, and the key one to the left is a flat. So this is an E, and that's an E flat. That means that each blacky is both a sharp and a flat. So you see, this is the sea that's a C shirt, but this is a D, and this note is also a D flat. The only difference here is from B to C, what you can see. There's no Blackie and again from E. T. F, which you can also see there's no Blackie, so I'm not gonna go into depths of why this is a thing, because that's the more advanced theory. But just know that the key to the right of a note is always the sharp on the heat. The left is always a flat, so since there's no Blackie, the key immediately to the left of F is gonna be e so e is a flat and the same thing's true reverse. The key immediately to the right of E is an f So f is actually e sharp as well, and the same thing is true from B to C B, A C flat and C is be sharp. 38. Accidentals Example: 39. Other Useful Symbols: They're way too many other symbols to go over in a single course, so you can just look them up as you run into them. And most of them aren't that common. But the next videos of the most common ones that you should know about the end repeat sign is the 1st 1 It tells you to go back to the start, repeat time and repeat the section one time after I've done that one. Repeat, I could just keep proceeding past the end repeat side. If there's no start repeat sign. Go back to the beginning of the song. If there are multiple endings shown by numbers, then you play the first under in the first time, the second undoing the second time and so on. 40. Other Useful Symbols Pt. 2: a triplet is a note where three notes are combined together to make one beat. So these three triplets here together make a single beat, an eight via above. A note means played an octave higher. It's usually written to avoid tons of legend lines, which are hard to read when there's too many of them. 41. Triplets Example: 42. Intro To Section 4: the final thing to go over before you're ready to read. Most music is the base or F clock piano uses to class to show you right versus left hat. We haven't paid attention to it yet, but when playing the piano, you'll play the trouble or geek left with your right hand and the base or F cloth with your left hand in this section will learn the notes for the baseball. Everything else is the same, so it should be pretty straightforward to you. 43. First Bass Clef Notes: so the base Clough, or F clef, is another set of five lines that's displayed below the treble clef and is used to show what your left hand plays. Usually the right hand plays the trouble. Clough on the left hand, is the base class. The sea, just below the G clef connects the two, but people found it tough to look at an 11 line staff, so they split it up and spread it out. So the same see, that's on the first ledger line below the G clef is the sea that's on that first ledger line above the F. Clough, and that's your first note. See, your second note is the F bond, just like the G clef points the G, the F clef points the F, which is your second note. Try and get used to these two 44. Piano - First Bass Clef Notes: So, up to now, we haven't been paying too much attention to right vs left hand. But this is the main reason for the cliffs. You're gonna play the bass clef with your left hand on the trouble, cleft with the right hand. So in everything that follows, we're going to be playing with our left hand. So are notes from the last lesson are middle C, which we've already been over in the trouble cloth and F. Now you already know where this F is because we've been through it in a ledger. Lines on the Trouble club. 45. Where is the G?: your next note is a G. A good way to remember this is that G is at the bottom line of the F. Clough, while F is at the top line of the G clef, so they're sort of symmetrical. 46. Piano - Where is the G?: our next note is the G all the way at the bottom of the F Clough, which is all the way down here. 47. More C's: so the thing to remember for these next notes are that sees are symmetrical. Middle C connects the two staffs. So, Cesar, on the first ledger line between the two SAS seize on the first level and below the treble clef. And on the first ledger line above the base class, Caesar, also on the second ledger line. Outside of this days, see is on the second ledger line above the trouble, Clough and on the second line below the Basic Law. Ah, the 3rd 1 to remember is that sees are on the second space from the outside of the Clough. So you've got to see here inside the trouble cloth, which is on the second space from the outside of the club. And you also got another see here on on the base Clough, which is on the second space from the outside of the Basic Law 48. Piano - More C's: So here are notes from that last lesson. We've got Middle C again and then we've got the C one octave lower, which is right here. And then we've got to see one octave lower, which is the end of my keyboard I've got here. But it might not be the end of yours. 49. Fill In The Spaces: So now that we've got our reference notes, let's fill in the spaces. The spaces on the base Clough are a see e g. What you can remember as all cows eat grass. 50. Piano - Fill In The Spaces: moving on for these notes on the keyboard. We're starting with R A, which is all the way down here, then to see which is right there and then to e finally to G. 51. The Lines: and finally, let's fill in the lines. The lines for the base. Clough, R, G, B, D, F. And A. Which is commonly remembered as good boys, deserve fudge always, which is pretty similar to the lines from the trouble cloth. 52. Piano - The Lines: So our notes for this are going to be all the way down at this G and then skipped two keys and go up to be skipped two more and go up to D tomb or up to F on Finally up to a 53. Conclusion: And with that, you reach the end of the course. If you did all the quizzes that we went through and remember everything you learned, you should be able to read most pieces. Music pretty easily. Bridge up. As I said earlier, there tons of symbols. It's trope occasionally, but we've been through the main ones, and if you do see any you don't know, you should be able to figure them out pretty quickly with an online search. Other than that, you should be proud of yourself. You basically just learned another language. The language of music. You've opened up a world of possibility with the joy of playing music. I hope you enjoy the course and good luck in your musical journey.