Learning how to read sheet music is a lot like discovering a new language. It takes time, patience and a lot of practice to build confidence and familiarity. Starting out with complicated pieces is a lot like trying to read a book in a new found language, and this will only lead to discouragement and frustration.
There are many different types of sheet music available that are ideal for both beginners as well those with years of experience. Choose simple and easy to read music until you develop the skill to progress to more complex pieces. While this may not produce the sounds that you want to hear, it will give you the chance to become comfortable with reading and playing notes without feeling lost or intimidated.
Different students require different methods in order to get the most out of their piano lessons, and there is no single approach that will work for everyone. Take the time to explore what options will work best for you, and you will be amazed at how quickly you can learn the piano.
One simple trick that is very helpful when getting started it to label and place stickers on the piano keys that indicate what note they are. Then write the corresponding letter on the sheet music next to the appropriate line. This will speed up the process of learning how to read music while also discovering what keys to play on the piano.
Another trick is to play the octaves. This is especially helpful when playing sheet music that only includes a single note at a time. If the note is a “C” on the music, play a “C” octave on the piano. This will add body to the sound while also helping to teach the hands how to “feel” the piano more effectively.
You can progress to more complex pieces as you master the basics. Keeping things simple even if they don’t produce the rich sound that you want to make is a great way to keep in step with your skill level. Many people give up or get frustrated because they take on too much in the beginning. We all need to crawl before we walk and speak before we read, and learning how to read sheet music is no different.
Music is a language that takes time to learn and internalize. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you are not able to pound away notes in real time and play songs in their entirety in the beginning. Take the time to practice, make mistakes and become familiar with notes on the page as well as the keys.
Above all else do not pressure yourself to be perfect because learning the piano can take a lifetime. Allow yourself the freedom to make mistakes and progress at your own pace. Otherwise you run the risk of becoming frustrated and unhappy, and that defeats the entire purpose of learning music in the first place.