How did you learn to read sheet music?

For those of you that are learning how to read sheet music - how did you go about it? Did you learn various mnemonics such as FACE or All Cows Eat Grass? Do you think people should avoid those types of things and straight up just memorize the notes? Did you restrict what notes you learned to a few and slowly built up? Did you practice with the piano while learning the notes?

Would love to hear any advice people have or what your journey was like :slight_smile:


Hi Mikesol,

I definitely found the mnemonics helpful. I learned the treble clef mnemonics as a child (learned for a VERY short time) and although I have never gone back to piano for over 45 years, I still remembered them, so used the same system for the bass clef.
What helps me cement them in my memory is flash cards, I leave them on the kitchen bench and often during the day I just grab them and go through them, naming them. I put them in my bag if I go to town and shuffle them and name them if I have to wait for something/one.
Now that I’m reading this back to myself, maybe I should just get a life! :laughing:


Hehe, that’s very cool and efficient actually! Go you!

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I started trying to use the mnemonics, but I’ve found it gives me a noticeable delay in identifying the notes as I go through the mnemonic, so I switched over to trying to learn from flashcards/memorization. I think it worked better for me, as far as quick recognition goes. But I still find that if I stop reviewing regularly I’ll suddenly start blanking out on recognizing the notes, especially if there is more than one at a time (an interval and chord). Dunno if that is a common problem or just me, heh. But definitely gotta work more on my interval recognition! Heh.


The path that has worked for my students is:

  • Menmonics (memorize the sayings) [takes 2 weeks max]
  • Flash cards (recognize all notes within 3 seconds) [ takes 4-8 weeks]
  • Intervallic reading [takes 6-12 weeks],
  • Learn sight reading basics [ 4 -8 weeks]
  • Gradually working up to sight reading more and more advanced pieces. [ 10-20 years ]

Wow! Those times are actually longer than I expected (and I definitely haven’t put that much focused time into it) so perhaps that’s why I keep struggling with blanking out after a while.

Can’t remember if someone in the Discord recommended it or not, but I’ve been using an app named Tenuto lately that I’ve been finding very helpful. It tests on a whole bunch of different sheet reading concepts (including note/interval/scale/key signature recognition), as well as ear training and more.

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Are there any good pathways after the basics? I can read sheet music at a slowish rate and probably at most was grade 4 or 5 standard. But afterwards I’ve not played as regularly because I went to University so forgot a lot.

Welcome @Joe! I’m still new and learning the basics myself, so I can’t help, but hopefully @andrewfurmanczyk or someone else more experienced can. And forgive us if the replies are slow in coming, we’re still working on building up activity in the forum, heh. Definitely feel free to come ask in the Discord community as well, if you’d like. (But it’ll also be nice to have the answer in here, where it’ll be easier to find for future learners, heh heh.)

Same with me Ren :slight_smile:

For anyone else getting started like me - I found this site really helpful for the flashcard style of practice: Note Identification - you can customize the notes you see, whether major / minor notes are included, the staffs, etc. You can also hit the keys using the letters on your computer keyboard. I’ve been trying to do 150 right answers per day with this site and feel like it’s really helping :slight_smile:


Same with me,

Welcome to the forums! :blush: