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Just like learning your ABCs, taking the first steps in learning how to read music can be fun and easy. And with a little time and practice, you just might find that reading notes in a piece of music comes just as naturally as reading words in a book.
Sight Reading

Sight reading, or the ability to read and play music simultaneously, is a fantastic skill that may seem unattainable to budding musicians, at first. But getting the basics down isn't all that tough, no matter what kind of music you're playing.
Understanding Clefs

There are three basic "clefs," with a few variations, that are used in pretty much all modern musical composition. These clefs determine the name and pitch of each note on the staff following them. The three clefs are the treble, or G-clef, the bass, or F-clef, and the moveable C-clef, which is used with only a few specific instruments. For now, we'll focus on the treble and bass clefs only––once you have the hang of these, learning the C-clef, if you need to, will be a cinch.
The Treble Clef

The treble clef, formerly known as the violin clef, is the most common today and is used with the greatest number of instruments, and represents the upper half of a grand staff, used in piano and other keyboard instruments. As with all clefs, each line, and each space, represents a single note or pitch––for the treble clef, starting from the bottom, the lines are E, G, B, D, and F, and the spaces are F, A, C and E.

My old piano teacher had me remember the phrase "Every Good Boy Does Fine, E-G-B-D-F" for the lines, but I prefer the less ordinary, "Experimenting Gastronomes Beget Doughy Frittatas." Of course, the spaces just spell the Italian-sounding word, "facé," or just "FACE" if you prefer.
Understanding Scales

Together, you'll see that the lines and spaces make up a scale using only the letters A through G, which holds true for all musical notation. Here's the treble clef (scale plays). For the bass clef, it's G-B-D-F-A for the lines and A-C-E-G for the spaces (scale plays).

Or, sticking with the good boy and culinary themes, "Good Boys Do Fine Always" and "All Cows Eat Grass." Once you've got these simple basics committed to memory, try mixing it up a bit.

And that's all there is to it! Unless, of course, you're ready to update these stuffy old acronyms and come up with your own. Gravity Beam Drink Feathery Alligators...?

I'm Jonathon Stewart with About.com.
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