How to Read Music

Can You Read Music?

Can anyone learn to read music? I can see how reading music can look intimidating, but I believe anyone can do it. In fact, I’ve never (and I really do mean never) had a student fail at learning to read music. I would even venture to say that reading the English language is more of a challenge than reading music. Even though I won’t go over everything you need to know today, I will start with identifying the names of notes. This will help remove some of the mystery from reading music.

Lines and Spaces

When beginning to read music, it’s important to know about the staff. This is the staff:

How to read music

The staff is made of 5 lines (colored in red):

Reading music on saxophone

And 4 spaces:

How to read music on saxophone

The Treble Clef

As soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone saxophone players, we read music in the treble clef. This is the treble clef:

The soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone saxophones play in the treble clef

If we changes clefs, the note names will change. But since we play in treble clef only, we won’t worry about that right now. Let’s name some notes!

The Musical Alphabet

In the English alphabet, we use letters A-Z. The musical alphabet is much shorter: A-G. When we name notes, we only use these 7 names/letters.

Note Names

Now, we can plug the notes into the lines and spaces. For the notes sitting in the spaces, we simply spell FACE to identify the note names. Spell going up, starting in the lowest space:

Note names in the spaces

When labeling the lines, we can use fun phrases. Here’s one I learned as a kid:

  • Every
  • Good
  • Boy
  • Deserves
  • Fudge

Spell going up, starting on the lowest line:

Note names on the lines

Adding Notes

When we add notes, they’re named by the lines and spaces they are placed on:

Note names in the treble clef

When reading notes on the saxophone, we read from left to right. When one note ends, the other begins. Here’s an 8 second video of how this looks and sounds:


That’s It!

Now you can see how notes are given their names and how they are organized on the lines and spaces. If you have any questions about reading music, feel free to ask in the comment section. Want to learn more? Our free lessons start from the beginning and the Gold Lesson Series will take you to an intermediate level of reading music. Try out the Free Lessons here!

The Mystery

Hopefully that took out some of the mystery in regards to reading music. If you felt this post was helpful, please feel free to share it with other through our social media buttons on this page. Thanks for helping to get the word out!


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