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How to Read Music, Chords, and Scales


Most kids are absolutely excited by the idea of learning how to play a musical instrument. They imagine themselves as an expert piano or guitar player, rocking out with their friends and being adored by their awesome fans.

However, the reality of the situation usually turns out to be a lot different.

The first time a beginner comes face-to- face with sheet music it’s perfectly normal for them to feel more than a little intimidated. Unfortunately, for many would-be music students, that intimidation turns into crippling fear that sees a lot of them throwing in the towel and giving up on their dream of becoming a musician.

The truth is that reading sheet music, learning music scales and learning how to play chords is challenging – but it’s not impossible. In fact, with the right instruction and techniques it’s relatively simple to learn to read music.

At Elevate Rock School, we believe it’s important to put as much emphasis on understanding the theory of music as it is to learn the technical side of playing an instrument.

Reading Music for Beginners

While many people can learn how to play an instrument by listening to music and using trial and error to replicate a song, knowing how to actually read music properly opens up a whole new world of possibilities.

Combining the knowledge of how to read music with learning how to play chords and music scales gives your child the most important tool they need in order to learn how to play any style of music they want.

To really understand the importance of learning to read music, think about a script an actor would use to learn their lines. Sheet music serves the same purpose for a musician. It tells them what to play and when to play it through a series of notes, clefts and bars.

To the complete beginner, a sheet of music tends to look absolutely confusing. The good news, however, is that once your child learns the language fluently, reading music becomes simple and like second nature.

Chords, Scales and Other Music Essentials

There are a handful of essentials that every student must learn in order to read music properly.



A note is a symbol that describes the pitch and duration of a musical sound. The pitch of a note determines how high or low the note sounds, while the duration of the note determines how long or short the note is.



A musical bar, also known as a measure, is the method used to organize written music in a way that makes it possible to keep time and manage the ‘beat’ of the music.



In musical theory, clefts describe the pitch and reference point of a set of written notes. There are four types of cleft notes, which include the bass, treble, alto and tenor, however the bass and treble clefts are typically used the most.



In music, an organized sequence of notes or pitches is known as a scale. Composers and musicians use scales to create melodies and harmonies in songs. There are many different types of scales which include major, minor, diatonic and pentatonic scales. It’s important to learn scales because they are the foundation of learning musical chords.



A musical chord is a set of three or more notes played simultaneously, or one after the other in a ‘broken’ chord. Chords make up an important part of the harmony in music styles like country, rock, blues and folk, and are essential to piano players and players of string instruments.

Your child can learn how to read music with confidence. All it takes is the right environment and teaching methods to help them get over the fear of reading sheet music while also having fun learning the theoretical side of things. That’s exactly what we offer at our Fargo based Elevate Rock School.

Your child will learn how to read music and how to play chords (guitar chords for beginners and piano chords for beginners) through our comprehensive music programs. Our instructors also help students to learn music scales proficiently.

Whether your child struggles with learning piano scales, learning guitar scales, or if they want to learn guitar or piano chords as quickly as possible, the music teachers at Elevate Rock School are ready to assist with effective training and guidance.

Sign up for a FREE lesson and tour today to find out more about the unique methods we use to move kids from complete beginners to skilled musicians.