With a little success under your belt, you can begin to tackle the job of learning to read music. Of course, many musicians do not know how to read music. They just hear a song and play it, as they say, by ear. These musicians can improvise on any simple themes and come up with elaborate renditions of popular songs. These players know their instruments as well as singers know their own voices.
You may be someone who can do that. There will be some information later on about chords and improvisation. However, if you are a beginner just finding out about the piano, it is more likely that you need the help that written music can provide you. Furthermore, learning to read written music can open up a whole new world to you. You can learn songs that you have never even heard before. If you want to repeat the performance, you will have the sheet music to guide you note for note.
There is much to learn. You must find out about the way the notes are depicted. You need to know what the staffs that they are shown on look like. You will learn how rhythm is represented and how sharps and flats are shown. These are the basics, and you can build on this knowledge over time.
You can learn quite a lot just by looking at one piece of music. If you have some sheet music, a hymnal, or a songbook, take it out and look at the music. If you do not already have some written music, buy some or borrow a songbook from the library.
You will notice that there are groups of five horizontal lines. If the music is for both hands, it will have two of these groups of lines connected together by a longer line along the side. The horizontal lines are called the staff. You can get staff paper that is already marked with these lines.
At the far left side of the staffs you will see the clef marking. It will be a treble clef marking for the upper staff. The treble clef resembles a fancy backwards S with a line going down through it and curling underneath. In the beginning of learning to play the piano, you will play the treble clef notes with your right hand.
On the lower staff of the two is the bass clef sign. It is something like a backwards C with two dots on the right side of it. This staff shows the lower notes, and you will begin by playing the notes shown on this staff with your left hand. The upper and lower staffs will repeat several times down the page. Look at your sheet music and identify the staffs. Now you are ready to learn the notes.