3 Reasons Why You Should Learn To Read Notes!

classical music easy piano jazz piano learn piano learning an instrument memorize songs music styles piano foundations piano frustration piano lessons play by ear read music read notes youtube tutorials Sep 19, 2020

Learning the notes in music is SO important. Sure you can learn to play by ear and just copy songs from youtube tutorials, but this will severely limit how far you can go in piano. You might have a couple of quick wins, but then you will hit a plateau and not be able to progress further.

There are exceptions to every rule with this. I’m sure you could google right now some amazing people who play solely by ear, but for the vast majority of the population it is a limiting way to learn piano.

In fact, my husband plays by ear! He is absolutely amazing, but he will be the first to tell you he wishes he learned to read music because he is limited in what he can do.

Here are 3 Reasons Why You Should Learn To Read Notes:

#1: Reading is essential for continued success.

Would you ever consider your Childs academics successful if they learned to memorize books, but couldn’t actually sit down and read a book?

Definitely not. You would definitely be knocking on the teachers door asking why she is not teaching reading.

Why is that?

It is because you know that the material is only going to get harder the older your child gets. You know they won’t always be reading The cat and the Hat. Eventually their reading material will be extensive with long chapters making it impossible to memorize the long and complex portions of the text. Or maybe the things they will need to learn will be complicated subjects like biology and history. In those times they will want to be able to read and reread confusing passages over and over until it makes sense. If they rely on only memorizing you know they will eventually not be able to keep up pass their grade. They must read.

You also know that your child can’t rely on someone reading it to them to memorize. You want them to be able to learn independently for the rest of their lives. You want them when they’re an adult and have a new interest to be able to go to the library, check out a book on the subject, and be able to learn.

If they only can memorize and not actually read you know they will be handicapped for the rest of their life.

Yet, somehow many parents think it is totally different when it comes to music. Suddenly reading isn’t important anymore. It is ok to simply memorize songs and parrot them back to an audience.

This couldn’t be more wrong. You are handicapping your Childs ability to learn and grown musically, just as you would be if you approached academics that they don’t need to learn to read.

Reading is fundamentally the most important skill when it comes to school AND to learning music.

#2 Reading music makes all styles of piano easy to learn

Let’s continue with the same example of learning to read in school. When your child learns to read you know that as their reading ability grows the sky is the limit in what they can learn and accomplish.

The same holds true for piano. When you teach them to read the sky is the limit with what they can accomplish. Unlike only memorizing songs, with learning to read music they will never plateau and be unable to continue learning.

Let’s say your child says, but I don’t want to play classical music by Mozart and Bach so why do I have to learn to read music?

Because by learning to read music and play the hard stuff, the sky is the limit with the style of music they want to learn. If they only play the styles that interest them they will plateau and more than likely never become excellent at it.

But if they learn to read music first, then the potential is limitless. They can literally play any style of music with ease.

My son has learned to play classically. Now that he is in his teen years his musical style is morphing. He is enjoying a more jazz style of music. Because of his background learning to read, the transition to jazz style music was pretty seamless.


Because he had the foundational tools he needed to make ANY style and ANY level of music attainable. Reading is not only the key to success, it is the key to enjoyment in music!

#3 Reading music takes away the frustration in learning an instrument and promotes good character traits.

I hear so many parents and adult former piano students tell me the exact same story over and over again. I started to play by ear and memorize songs. Later I wanted to learn to read music and quickly became frustrated and quit piano altogether.

Why is that? Why do students who learn by ear first and want to then become better and start to read music 2nd often quit?

I’ll tell you why. It’s because it is hard to read music. Not impossible, but it takes effort and it takes discipline.

However, these students first exposure to piano was quick easy wins. Their excitement grew. “Wow look how easy it is to learn piano!” Many of them think. Then they hit that inevitable plateau.

So they begin traditional lessons learning notes. Suddenly they are hit with a realization. Piano is hard! Not only is it hard, but they have to take a few steps backwards. All that progress they made suddenly seems like it disappeared before their eyes.

They were playing songs that sounded impressive and ‘wowed’ their audience and now they’re are back to playing Mary Had a Little Lamb… and even that is challenging when doing it by reading notes.

Who wouldn’t be discouraged at that? I know I would!

So many of kids in that predicament simply quit. They hit the plateau and can’t go further by ear and they don’t want to take 3 steps backwards in what feels like starting over.

So they just quit.

For this reason, I beg any parent reading this please please make sure your child learns to read music first! It is so sad to see a kid with a true love for piano be defeated because they learned in the wrong order.

Don’t let your child have a couple of quick wins in piano, but then get frustrated that they can’t progress further and so their desire to learn dies down and they quit. Teach them the foundational skills of learning to read music so that piano is apart of their life forever!

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