How to Learn Piano Notation

Learning to read piano notation is not much different from learning to read other types of music notation. There are specific score indications that relate specifically to the piano that all pianists should be aware of. Learn about the specific notation techniques that are exclusive to the highly versatile and expressive piano.

Step 1 Learn about prepared piano techniques. These techniques allow the piano to be prepared for a performance in unusual ways. Specific elements of the piano undergo modification depending on score indications. These elements could be nails placed on top of the strings to create an additional buzz, or other objects placed on top or in between the strings.

Step 2 Striking the strings with beaters or brushes can help to turn this instrument into more of a percussion instrument. Composers will often indicate these techniques directly in the score.

Step 3 Plucking the string, similar to a violin pizzicato is also possible. This effect creates a metallic sound that can be extremely useful in modern compositions and for extended effects.

Step 4 Depressing the damper pedal and playing tremolos in the low range can simulate the rumblings of a bass drum.

Step 5 Marking una corda in the piano part means to depress the left most piano pedal to create a softer sound by striking only one of the three strings associated with each key on the piano.

Step 6 Marking sostenuto in the piano part will tell the pianist to depress the middle pedal. This allows the keys of the piano previously held down before pressing the pedal to sustain as a pedal point while the pianist continues to play. The notes played after the pedal is depressed do not sustain.

Step 7 Marking damper pedal in the score will indicate for the pianist to depress the right pedal. This pedal is the most commonly used and it allows notes to sustain. The sustaining pedal is another name for the damper pedal.

For basic notation and theory practice visit the link in the resource section. It provides elementary concepts about notation and reading music. Sostenuto pedals do not work on notes above middle C.


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