Learning to read music is a difficult process, it takes time, energy and dedication to become fluent, much like learning a new language. Although the task might seem daunting at first, there are steps you can take to make the process easier. Whether you're at the very beginning, or having a little trouble along the way, these 5 steps will help get your musical expedition up and running!
1. Start with the basics!
It can be tempting to dive right in and start with the hard stuff, but it's essential to learn the basics so you have a firm foundation to build your practice. Learning scales, proper technique and practicing rhythm will not only make you sound better, but it will make playing new music a less daunting experience as well.
The circle of 5ths is a great way to start — first learn your major scales all the way around, then minor, then (if you're feeling adventurous) you can start experimenting with modal scales, how fun! You'll find that as you start reading other music, these scales pop up EVERYWHERE, and, since you've now mastered them, sight-reading becomes a breeze.
2. Learn songs you're familiar with.
There are few things more terrifying then looking at a piece of music and having absolutely no idea what it's supposed to sound like. As you get more fluent in reading musical notation, you'll be able to figure it out just by looking at it, but for now, it really helps to start with a song you already know.
Wait, isn't that cheating? NO! I repeat, NO!! By seeing rhythms and notes you already know written out on paper, it trains your brain to recognize rhythmic and melodic patterns, a lot like having someone read a book aloud as you follow along.
3. Use easy-to-read music (like our new easy note collection!)
Again, it's tempting to jump right in and start with the hardest thing you can find, but it's worth it to take things step-by-step. Whether this means starting with simple tunes (think "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star") or bigger notes, you'll thank yourself when you're rocking out to your favorite tunes instead of still struggling with the first few notes.
A great resource for this is Chromatik's "Easy Note" collection! With fun tunes like "Uptown Funk," "Take Me To Church," and "Let it Go," you can learn hit tunes in a flash (so long, "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star")! This music features enlarged note heads with the name of each note written inside— perfect for learning! Check it out here.
Practice. We all know we need to do it, it just comes down to how much and how often. It can be hard to squeeze in long sessions every day, but practicing even 15 minutes daily can make a significant improvement! 30 minutes daily is even better, so on and so forth. Just beware that an hour of practice once a week will not have the same effect as small practice sessions every day! It takes repetition and time for our muscles and brain to tune in (yes, pun intended) to what we're doing so do your best to work it into your routine.
5. Don't give up!
The 100% guaranteed way to not reach your goals is to stop trying! Learning can be frustrating, but when you feel like giving up, remember how cool it felt the first time you really nailed a part, or how proud you'll be when you're rocking out a sold-out show a few years down the line. You can do it!