How are you going about trying to learn to read music?
First off, I want to share my best advice for someone who wants to go from not reading music at all to being able to read music fluently.
These are some pointers I’ve picked up in my career as a musician and music teacher, and I want to make sure you are fully equipped with the right mindset so you can get the most out of your efforts to learn to read music.
Stick around, and I will also share recommendations for good books, software and video programs (you can check them out on the right sidebar) and you can use them to learn music in a more structured way than simply surfing around the internet.
Learn Music Through Real Live Music
If you want to succeed at learning to read music, then you need to be fully immersed in living, breathing music.
The majority of people I know who have failed to learn to read music as they’d like to be able to read it usually only took a course on learning to read music and tried to learn to read music out of a textbook or other print-based method.
If you really want to learn to read music, then the best thing you can do is wed your pursuit of music reading to the learning of an instrument (even if that instrument is your voice).
One of the most important aspects of learning to read music is helping the page of notes come alive. By having an instrument in your hands, you can see notes on the page and then translate them into actual sounds in your ear thanks to your instrument.
The piano is the best instrument to use if you really want to learn to read music well, but if you’re a violinist, then the violin is the ideal instrument for you to use.
You don’t need to learn to play the piano in order to learn to read music.
But if you don’t currently play any instrument and really want to learn to read music, then the piano is your new best friend.
You’d be surprised at how many people try to learn to read music without connecting their reading work to actual musical experiences.
One of the most educational things you can possibly do, once you’ve figured out the basics of how to read music, is obtain the sheet music for a piece of music that you really love and then follow along with the score as you listen to the piece.
You will learn an unbelievable amount by watching the notes on the page fly by right along with your favorite Beethoven sonata or Mozart concerto.
And, as in all things musical, repetition is the ultimate secret of success.
You will succeed at learning to read music to the degree that you show up day in day out (even if for only a few minutes) for an extended period of time.
Don’t expect to be able to learn to read music without some effort, and be sure to appreciate the progress you make even if it comes slowly!
Learning to read music is a totally accessible skill for almost anyone who brings sufficient commitment and perseverance to the task.
Like I said, you aren’t going to get very far by exclusively trying to learn music out of a book, but here are some good books you can at least incorporate into your larger program of learning to read music:
Ready to Read Music by Jay Althouse
You Can Read Music by Amy Appleby
Recommended Online Music Reading Programs
There are a few different programs out there that take advantage of the multimedia capabilities offered by the Internet to immerse you in an accelerated program of learning to read music.
Of the programs that are out there, I recommend Read Music Now.
It’s designed to help you get to successful music reading in seven days. It utilizes audio, video and print to immerse you in the full experience of learning to bring sheet music to life by reading it and understanding how it works.
And best of all, you have 60 days to see if Read Music Now is for you. If it isn’t you can simply return it for a full refund.
Recommended Music Education Software
Music is a language, and music theory skills provide the foundation for fluency. Honing these skills with the aid of a music theory software program will not only help you become a better student, it will create a lifelong appreciation and discerning ear for music.
Of all the software programs you could choose from, I recommend Practica Musica. It’s a customizable program that’s ideal for students of any age, with a large set of the activities and interactive sessions. These include:
- Pitch and Rhythm matching, reading and dictation
- Real time rhythm tapping
- Interval and chord playing
- Chord progression writing, reading and dictation
Not only do you get the software to install on your computer, but it comes with a textbook that covers just about anything you’d ever want to know about music theory. The textbook includes pull-out worksheets and extra staff paper, which is great if you like you work some things out by hand instead of doing everything on the computer screen.