Common Music Symbols Used In Piano Lessons

There are well over 90 music symbols that are used to demonstrate how to play a musical piece and even though it can be overwhelming, you’ll eventually need to learn them as you take more lessons. But there are a handful you can learn today since they are repeated in many beginning exercises you’ll play on a daily basis through your piano lessons.

The symbols we’ll get into today determine what key you should hit, how quickly or slowly you play that key, and how all the notes are normally arranged. Each one we’ll go over are easy to learn and simple to remember.

Commonly Used Music Symbols – Grand Staff

From beginning to professional pieces, music sheets contain grand staves that combines the notes to played on the treble clef (top) and bass clef (bottom) staffs. The notes used for each clef determines how many high and low pitch notes will be played in the piece. The image below shows the grand staff and describes each piece within:

Grand Staff with Music Symbols Explained

Grand Staff with Music Symbols Explained

 

Commonly Used Music Symbols - Whole Note

The whole note has a black oval shape with an angular, empty, and smaller oval in the middle. It represents a count of four beats, meaning you will hold the key the whole note is sitting on for four beats. Here is how it looks on the treble clef staff:

The Whole Note Sitting on the Treble Clef Staff

The Whole Note Sitting on the Treble Clef Staff

 

Commonly Used Music Symbols - Half Note

A half note holds half the count of a whole note. It will last for two beats and has a white, empty oval shape with a black outline around it, along with a long stem that comes up on its right side. A book that I mention in an article called Learn How To Play The Piano – Fingering Positions, displays an example of this note in the first bar. View its shape below:

Treble Clef Staff Lines with Half Notes

Treble Clef Staff Lines with Half Notes

 

Commonly Used Music Symbols - Quarter Note

There is a similarity in the shapes of the half and quarter note music symbols. They both have an oval shape with a stem on its right side but the quarter note is filled in with the color of black. It lasts for just one beat in a music measure:

Quarter Notes sitting on the Treble Clef

Quarter Notes sitting on the Treble Clef

 

Commonly Used Music Symbols - Eighth Note

An eighth note is shaped like the quarter note but has a curve or hooked flag coming from the top of its stem. When more than one eighth note is paired together, they are connected through a beam, replacing their flags. My post, Finger Exercises For Piano Lessons – Hanon-Schaum Book 1, mentions a book that uses this note quite a bit in the 24 lessons it provides. The eighth note lasts ⅛ of the time within a measure, which is an eighth of the time the whole note lasts:

Eighth Notes on the Treble Clef Staff

Eighth Notes on the Treble Clef Staff

 

Commonly Used Music Symbols - Sixteenth Note

The last note we’ll discuss in this article is the sixteenth note. Similar to the eighth note, it is 1/16th of the whole note, requiring you to play it faster when seen on the grand staff. The eighth and sixteenth music symbols have a similar shape except the sixteenth note has a second flag on its stem and has two beams when connected to another sixteenth note:

Representation of the Sixteenth Note

Representation of the Sixteenth Note

 

Conclusion

There are many other music symbols that you’ll run into during your piano lessons, but these twelve are the ones you’ll see most often. Practicing everyday will get you further along in your skills and knowledge of music theory.

What other notes have you seen or read about? Leave your comment below.

Share This Post With Your Friends

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *