Powerful Tips for Reading Music as a Professional Singer and Artist
When you see your favorite singer performing. Or when you hear your favorite song on the radio, sheet music probably never crosses your mind. Like many you’re simply enjoying his or her voice and talent. When you do start to think about the singer’s talent, more than likely you focus on just the voice. A lot of people think having a good singing voice, or being able to sing is just about the actual vocal cords. They don’t filter in other aspects that contributes to being a great singer. One of them being the ability to read music. Whether you play an instrument or not, if you’re a professional singer you should know how to read music. You should at least know the basics. Having this skills is such a great necessity. Here are 5 powerful tips on how to read music as a professional singer.
What you should already know
In order to learn how to read music, as in see a piece of sheet music and be able to read it, there are some basics you must know initially. This means you have to know the music theory alphabet.
The music theory alphabet comprises of letters A-G (A B C D E F G). Then it starts again on A. However, when people learn music theory they always start on C (middle C).
Music note names:
Music notes get their names depending on what line and space they’re space on. It also depends on what clef you’re in. Music can be written on the treble clef or bass clef. In order to figure out what the name of the note is there are acronyms you have to memorize. The treble clef has an acronym for its line and spaces. The bass clef has an acronym for its line and spaces.
To get note names on the treble clef lines use acronym: Every Good Boy Does Fine. This mean starting from the bottom line of the treble clef the 1st line name is an E, the 2nd line name is a G and so on. So if you have a note on the 1st line of the treble clef the note name is E.
To get not names on the treble clef spaces use acronym/ word: FACE. This means starting from the bottom space of the treble clef the 1st space name is a F, the 2nd is an A and so on. This means you have a note on the 1st space of the treble clef the note name is F.
To get note names on the bass clef lines use acronym: Good Boys Do Fine Always. This means starting from the bottom line of the bass clef the 1st line name is a G, the 2nd line name is a B and so on. So if you have a note on the 1st line of the bass clef the note name is G.
To get note names on the bass clef spaces use acronym: All Cows Eat Grass. This means starting from the bottom space of the bass clef the 1st space name is a A, the 2nd line name is a C and so on. So if you have a note on the 1st space of the bass clef the note name is A.
*Middle C isn’t on the treble or bass clef. It’s the C that’s in between both of them. That’s why it’s called middle C.
1) Master scales
In order to learn how to read music as a professional singer, the 1st thing you must master are scales. Scales are the root to learning how to read music because songs are written based on scales. Music note names range from A-G (A B C D E F G). However, each one of those note names have a scale. The scale starts on the note name and ends on the note name. Songs are then written based on that particular scale. Have you ever heard a musician or artist say “this song was written in C Major.” Or maybe a professional songwriter say “I wrote the song in A minor.” This means that the song was written in that particular scale. That means the notes that make up the song’s melody and harmony should be the same notes that are in the scale, or majority of the notes should be from the scale. Now that you understand this. You’ll be able to see why mastering scales is very important with reading music. The best way to master music scales is to constantly play them and go over them everyday. You want to play each music scale 10x’s with each hand. You also want to visually study them for at least 15-30 minutes a day. Below is a link of all the music scales major and minor for you to study and learn.
2) Neighboring notes and spaces
Another way to learn how to read music as a professional singer is to notice the placement of the notes. Meaning instead of trying to say the name of every single not in their consecutive order. Look at the placement of the 1st note and then use that as a guide to name the following notes. If you have a note right next to another note that’s called a neighboring note. This means since the 2nd note is right next to the 1st note, you just go up the alphabet to name the next note. Meaning if your 1st note is a C and you need to name the note next to it on the right. You know it’s going to be a D. If you have a C, and you need to name the note right next to it on the left. You know to go 1 letter backwards, which would be a B. You can also use this technique for notes with 1 space in between them. This should tell you to skip 1 note. Meaning if the 1st note you’re reading is D and the 2nd note is to the right of it and there’s a space in between them, then the note is a F. You would also do this for the opposite direction. If your 1st note was a D and to the left of it was a note but a space in between. Then the note would be a B. Learning this technique is actually something many famous singers do. Especially those if they’re not fluent in reading music. This helps them name the notes right away without having to put too much time into figuring out the note name.
3) Lines and spaces
A great way to master reading music as a professional singer is to study the lines and spaces. You can even have a cheat sheet where it states all the line names going from bottom to top. You would also do this for all the spaces. For instance, the line names on the treble clef starting from the bottom and moving to the top are: E G B D F. This means if you’re singing a song with sheet music, and see a note on the 2nd line of the treble clef, it’s a G. However, the key is to know this as soon as you see it. You shouldn’t have to waste time spelling out the acronym in your head to get the note name right. This will take too much time. It’ll mess up the rhythm of the song, and you’ll also end up singing off beat. To accomplish this music tip, study the lines and spaces names of both clefs.
Treble clef line note names: E G B D F (from bottom to top)
Treble clef space note names: F A C E (from bottom to top)
Bass clef line note names: G B D F A (from bottom to top)
Bass clef space note names: A C E G (from bottom to top)
4) Chord Shapes
When reading music as a professional singer or musician, you’ll have to read chords as well. Music chords are 2 or more harmonic notes played at the same time. However, most music chords are 3 notes. Chords are built from music scales. Chords get their names based off which music note they’re built on. Basic music chords are also built on the following scale patter: 1 3 5. Meaning a basic music chord is composed of notes 1 3 5 from a particular scale. If you’re in the C major scale, and you’re building a chord with notes 1 3 5. The chord would consist of the notes C E G. This is because C is the 1st note in the C major scale. E is the 3rd note, and G is the 5th note. This is called a C major chord. This type of chord is also written out in root position. However, all chords aren’t written out in root position. A lot of chords are written in inversions. Chord inversions are when a chord is comprised of the same notes that a root position chord has. However, the order in which the note appears is different. A C major chord in root position would be C E G. As an inversion it could be G C E or E G C. This allows for the chords to have a particular shape. In root position the chord will be stacked directly on top of each other. But as an inversion the chord will look slightly differently. Recognizing the chord shapes and memorizing them will help you with reading music. In order for this tip to work for professional singers you have to study chords, inversions, chord progressions and their shapes.
5) Memorize notes
Arguably the best way to learn how to read music as a professional singer, is to simply memorize notes. Whether you’re an independent, mainstream, pop or r&b singer, who wants to read music, you have to memorize the notes. This means you have to get to a level where as soon as you see a music note you instantly know which note it is. You don’t have to think about it. You don’t have to say any acronyms in your head. In order to get to this level you must take the time to master and memorize notes. This is a common tip many singers, songwriters, pianists and artists do. If you’re wondering “how to be come a singer songwriter”, this is a great start. The best way to accomplish this music tip is to print out sheet music with notes on them that varies, and study does notes. Study the notes and say their name. This should be practiced for 15-30 minutes daily. Or as often as you possibly can. This will allow your brain to register notes as soon as you see them on sheet music. It will get to a point where you’ll be surprised yourself at how you automatically know note names.
Learning these 5 amazing tips for reading music as a professional singer and artist will definitely work. However, you have to work with them. In order for these music tips to work, you have to exercise them daily. The key is repetition, practice and memory. Next time you think about reading music but believe it’s too hard, simply refer to these tips.