I have wonderful memories of learning the piano as a child. After I married, however, I no longer had a piano and my talent languished. One magical evening, I meandered into a piano showroom where polished Steinways and burnished Yamahas lay open like jewel boxes, ebony and ivory keys gleaming under soft lights. I yearned to stroke the keys and hear the silvery sound of music again caressing my soul, but I lacked the courage. The salesperson coaxed me to sit at the Steinway Grand Piano, the king of pianos and try a simple melody.
Those few notes evoked an outpouring of deep hidden emotion. Oh, to be able to play again! To have my children play! I determined to relearn the piano and teach my children, so that I would no longer lament with the muse Tagore over spending “many days stringing and unstringing my instrument while the song I came to sing remains unsung.”
Teaching Myself to Read Music – Again
Whether you are learning to read music for the first time or relearning your old skills, two major avenues exist: classical methods or electronic methods. The expensive traditional method of buying a piano and hiring a teacher was out of my budget, so I bought an inexpensive keyboard to start. I practiced daily with my old books until my skills returned. As this was BC—before computers – I hired a teacher for my children and our lives beat with the repetitive rhythm of lessons and practice.
Teaching Others to Learn to Read Music
Our skills continued to improve and I finally realized my dream of owning a piano. I began teaching piano lessons to children and adults using flashcards and the Bastien piano & theory books, whose colorful graphics and simple approach to reading music are easily grasped. However, I found their practice songs to be rather dull so the Faber Piano Adventures series eventually became my favorite piano books as they cover everything well–from technique & artistry, to music theory, chords, notation and performance. Most notably, their lesson books are filled with creative songs from all genres from the lowest to highest levels and you are encouraged to improvise and compose your own music.
Technological Advancements in Learning to Read Music
With the advent of computers, the world of educational music software provides another exciting method for aspiring musicians, delivering music education virtually. Very inexpensive when compared with the traditional method, most music software is engaging and allows you to control the pace and frequency of your lessons. Some are even disguised as video games and are an especially fun way to build musical skills and knowledge. My biggest challenge with music education software is that I need to be truly self-motivated, since I have no one to account to except myself
Overall I find that computer programs can be very useful tools for self instruction, especially when you’re just beginning. Then once you achieve some proficiency, I recommend working with a real instrument and teacher. The one-on-one tutoring is invaluable to helping you reach your full potential.
Music Education Software
Electronics are a great benefit to adults or parents who desire fast results in learning to read music without a large up-front investment, or as a complement to a regular teacher. All of the following music software programs are highly rated and have everything you need. Kids who love computers will enjoy these learning to read music programs, too:
This software covers everything you need to know to get started understanding and appreciating music. The multimedia approach taken by Music Ace Deluxe keeps things interesting as you learn and grow musically. Want to learn more? Read our full review of Music Ace Deluxe.
This computer program works with both electronic keyboards and acoustic pianos to give you instant feedback as you play correct notes in a melody. There’s more than 300 lessons and 70 instruction videos to help you progress quickly and easily. Read reviews on Amazon.com.
Will Barrow’s program walks you through learning the piano by starting with the fundamental and progressing to advanced skills in the course of 10 instructional DVDs. Watch them on your computer or in the comfort of your living room. Read reviews on Amazon.com.