Having Trouble Learning to Read Piano Music

by Richard

I've been playing piano for about 6-7 months, and am 16. I love piano, and I love playing it. I've learned that I have quite the ear which is good and bad because since I teach myself, it really slows me down when I have to go through my learning book. Reading the music is hard for me. I can do it, but it may take several minutes to over each note and make sure it is right. More often than not I do not sight-read the music and just play from memory which I think is the problem. I do not know what to do, I can't sight read perfectly so I resort to my ear and my memory, but it feels like it's crippling me. I want to be a good piano player and I feel I have the potential to be a musician but when I move so slow through a book it makes me feel very bad at it. ):

For instance the latest song I'm learning is O sole Mio! Not that difficult of a song but hard to learn because it's many different notes I haven't seen before. The previous page was auld lang syne, which seemed to have much more familiar notes and I learned the song within a couple of minutes. (not perfectly, but that's what practice is for) I just feel bad that this is a 140 page book and it's taken 6-7 months to get through about 120 of these pages and I still can't read the music. I'm sorry if this isn't exactly a question, but it would be help if you responded with any guidance you could.

Hi, Richard--

As a piano teacher, I know how frustrating the reading of notes can be for some students. First of all, be assured that you are not alone. It is quite common for a student to be particularly good at memorizing and playing by ear and not so good at reading notes. The opposite is also true with some students.

You did not mention if you have a teacher. If not, it might be a good idea to get one for just a while. A little professional guidance might help.

Have you tried Flash Cards? You can get them at any music store and they are not expensive. If you get the small red pack that is about the size of a deck of playing cards, you can carry them with you. These flash cards are a great help to my beginning students. When you use them near a piano be sure to not only say the name of the note, but play it in the proper place on the piano.

About your learning book--it appears to be one the Adult Piano Courses, possible by Alfred. If this is true, you might want to swallow your pride and try one of the courses meant for children. They move more slowly and give you time to learn each set of notes before moving on. You probably don't need to start at the very beginning level, but maybe with level 2 or 3.

Finally, let me assure you that 6 months is NOT a long time when it comes to learning to read music.
Be patient and try at least one of the above suggestions and you will see progress.

Try to maintain a positive attitude and always give yourself some time to enjoy playing from memory or by ear.

You will want to check out our Absolutely Free Piano Lessons, where you will find tons of free lessons and other valuable resources.

Best Wishes,

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