Become a Sheet Music Master: Learn to Read Music Online

Published: October 10, 2017 - 9:00am EDT

Piano with sheet music

If you’re learning how to play music, understanding how to read sheet music is something you definitely shouldn’t skip. Knowing how to read sheet music is a key component of becoming a serious musician, especially if you ever want to be a performer! Luckily, there are tons of ways you can teach yourself how to read sheet music online, and you won’t even need a music teacher!

First, we’re going to break down the best ways to go about learning to read sheet music. Then, we'll give you a list of the best resources for learning to read sheet music, once you’ve chosen a learning method that works best for you. And don’t forget to scroll down and read our tips for learning sheet music at the bottom; they may help make the process much easier for you, especially if you’re a beginner.

3 easy ways to start learning to read sheet music

  1. An instructional website – many music-related websites will have short (or long) lessons on learning to read music, usually with a very comprehensive overview of the topic as a whole.
     
  2. Blog posts – blog posts are similar to websites, but are great because they are generally more to the point or related to only one topic. This means you don’t get lost in the information or bogged down with too much text-heavy theory.
     
  3. Online video tutorials – video tutorials can be a great way to learn about music (especially reading music), as including visuals really helps with the learning process.

If you think you need a little more help learning to read music, check out our tutorial on the best online music teachers. We feature many helpful sites that can help you with your music theory studies.

Best 5 resources and websites to learn to read music online

1. Music Notes blog post

At musicnotes.com, there are tons of things to learn, as well as thousands of sheet music arrangements that are free to download. But in this blog post in particular, you can learn everything you need to know about how to read sheet music. Learn all about musical notes, how they appear on a staff, semitones, key signatures, and how it all comes together so you can play a song. Music Notes also has resources for printing free sheet music and guides to keyboard notes. If you want an introduction to music in general, check this post out right away.

Music Notes blog post

2. Music Theory Academy lessons

MusicTheoryAcademy.com is a great resource with short, succinct lessons on various topics of how to read sheet music. You can choose from many of the same basic topics seen on other websites, but Music Theory Academy has many advanced lessons as well. These include tutorials on cadences, transposing music, rubato music, and how to read chords, as well as specific lessons for reading guitar sheet music and how to read piano sheet music. You can choose each individual topic, or navigate easily to each tutorial to gain a complete understanding of reading music.

Music Theory Academy lesson example

3. Wiki How tutorial

WikiHow.com is a great website that can teach you how to do almost anything. They format their lessons step-by-step, typically with illustrations to help you along. In this lesson on how to read music, you start out with the basics, like the staff and music symbols. You then progress to more advanced topics, such as rhythm and melody, key signatures, naturals, dynamics, and more! WikiHow also has a Community Q & A section at the end of the lesson, which is really great if you have questions about what you learned.

Wiki How sheet music lesson

4. YouTube channel – YouCanPlayIt.com

YouTube is a great way to learn almost anything, but this great YouTube channel has a playlist of videos just on how to read music. They're broken down into easy-to-manage topics, so you can watch them over and over and learn at your own pace. You can learn about each individual concept one at a time, instead of feeling overwhelmed by one long lesson (if that’s more your style). Choose from 15 lessons on topics such as notes, note values, rests, accidentals, simple and compound meter, beats, and syncopation. Or you can watch them all in order, learning the whole course in only one hour!

You Can Play It YouTube tutorials

5. OneMinuteMusicLesson tutorials

OneMinuteMusicLesson.com has 23 lessons on reading music – each taking only 1-2 minutes to complete! Each lesson has a short video, and then the key points summarized in text below. The videos are mainly illustrations and helpful diagrams, which is great because learning music reading is a very visual task. The great thing about these lessons is that they are short and to the point, so you can easily review any topic at your leisure. You can also contact the instructor, Leon Harrell, if you have any questions about the lessons!

OneMinuteMusicLesson tutorial

4 tips for learning to read music

1. Learning to read music can be different for different instruments.

If you’re learning to read music, you’re probably thinking about learning to play an instrument down the road. Remember that different instruments can have different aspects to them that you may need to learn. Though the basic theory is the same, there will be certain conventions in sheet music you need to learn that are specific to the instrument you’re interested in. So, if you’re not yet planning on playing an instrument, keep this in mind for when you do.

2. Reading sheet music takes time to learn, especially for more than one instrument.

Learning to read music isn’t an easy task. It takes time, dedication, and – more than anything – practice. Even if you understand the theory behind reading music, it is an entirely different thing to be able to read it as you play along with an instrument. Don’t let this get you down, though! Just remember to practice over time until you get it, and it will get easier and easier as you work with more and more songs.

3. If one method isn’t working for you, change it up!

We gave you a few starting points for resources for learning, but that doesn’t mean you need to stick with those exclusively. In addition, if you start to get bored with one method, try something new so you can keep working at developing this new skill.

4. When learning to read music, playing along with an instrument (even a simple one) can help.

Even if you’re not quite ready to play your instrument of choice, having a simple one to play can help you learn how to read music better. Even something like a recorder or a simple drum can help you play along with sheet music, keep time, and learn rhythm as you play.

 

Hopefully, these resources and tips can help you on your way to becoming a sheet music master! Oh, and if you’re learning about sheet music, you should probably brush up on your music theory, too. We can help you in our article on the best resources for learning theory – which you can do completely online as well! If you want to put your sheet music reading into practice, check out our tutorials on how to learn the guitar online, or how to learn piano online.

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