How to Read Piano Notes

If you’re just getting started with learning the piano, one of the first things you’ll need to do is learn how to read piano notes.

Deciphering the written notes on a page is essential for being able to play your favorite songs and pieces. Luckily, reading piano notes is not as difficult as it may seem at first glance.

With a little bit of practice, you’ll be reading them like a pro in no time! Here are tips to help you get started.

1. Start By Learning the Musical Alphabet

In order to read piano notes, you need to know the names of the lines and spaces on a music staff. The lines from bottom to top are called E, G, B, D, and F while the spaces correspond to the notes A, C, and E.

These letters are also known as natural notes. Once you’ve memorized these letter names, you can move on to learn about sharps and flats (more on that later!).

2. Learn About Ledger Lines

In addition to the five main lines and four spaces on a music staff, there are also ledger lines above and below the staff. These are used for writing notes that are higher or lower than what can be represented on the staff itself.

Ledger lines are added above or below the staff as needed and each line or space represents a different note just like on the main staff itself.

3. Understand Sharps and Flats

As we mentioned before, natural notes are not the only ones used in music. There are also sharps (#) and flats (b). A sharp sends a note by one-half step while a flat lowers it by one-half step.

For example, if you see a sharp symbol next to an E on a sheet of music, this means that you should play an F instead since F is one-half step higher than E.

4. Look for Key Signatures at the Beginning of a Song or Piece

Key signatures are settings at the beginning of a song that indicate which sharps or flats will be used throughout that particular piece so that they don’t have to be written out each time they occur.

Key signatures always come at the beginning of a song or piece after any introductory material such as measures rest.

5. Be Aware of Time Signatures

In addition to key signatures, another important setting at the beginning of songs is the time signature. This indicates how many beats there are and what type of note gets one beat.


Learning how to read piano notes takes time and practice but it’s definitely worth it! Being able to sight-read will open up tons of new repertoire options for you and make playing your favorite pieces much easier overall.

Use these tips as a starting point and don’t forget to keep practicing! Soon enough, you’ll be reading piano notes like a pro!

Allen Joe

Allen Joe is a writer for a piano blog. He has been playing the piano since he was a young child, and has always loved sharing his passion for music with others. Allen's writing focuses on helping people learn about different aspects of the piano and how to play it themselves.

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