Nearly all beginning adult piano students want to learn to read music. I know this because I always ask new students to tell me their Big Goals.

Learning to read music is incredibly useful. Reading is the fastest way to learn new music, and lots of it. If you can read this sentence, you can learn to read music. Learning to read music is way easier than learning to read English, even at the “Dick and Jane” level. It’s even easier if you can already read English!

Now you’d think the most important aspect of reading music would be easily discoverable online.

Nope. A Google search for “how to read music” offers tons of results, but none of the top articles mention what I’m about to tell you. Even a Wikihow article written by a PhD fails to mention it.

By the way, it’s not using acronyms like “Good Burritos Don’t Fall Apart” or “Every Good Boy Does Fiona”…I mean, “Fine.” Acronyms are cool, but they only take you so far.

Sports involving balls require players to perceive the distance and direction between one’s body and the ball, or another player. Reading music involves the same skill.

Fortunately, unlike a ball, the objects in question (notes on the page) don’t move!

The space between two notes on the page, which represents and is the same as the distance between two keys on the keyboard, is an interval. A note (the symbol which means play a key) can be written on a line or space. A note on a line followed by a note on a space just above that line are next to each other on the keyboard. This is the interval of a second. It looks like this:

The space between two notes is the distance part of music.

If the second note is higher than the first (like above) it’s the key to the right of the first note’s key. “Up” in music notation is “right” on the keyboard, because the notes get higher in pitch as you go to the right. If the second of the two notes is lower, it’s the key to the left.

The relationship (up or down) between two notes is the direction part of music.

Reading by interval (distance and direction) is the key to reading confidently and effortlessly. Good music readers don’t read individual notes. They read by pattern – by interval.

Reading by interval is the right way to read music.

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