How To Read Music

Table of Contents

Module 1: Prepare to Succeed logo for website


Congratulations! You’re going to learn a ton about reading, understanding and playing music. logo for website


This course isn’t some “secret” method never revealed before now. Instead, it’s the way professional musicians have always done it. logo for website

Having a Mentor

Although this is a DIY course, you have two mentors – Me and my Dad. He taught me and literally 1000’s to read music. logo for website

How to Practice

No more confusion – know exactly What, When, How & Why logo for website

Mental Checklist

Effectively manage your time and energy – every time you practice logo for website

Practice Routine Chart

Stay on point: Rhythm, Pitch, Technique, Tone & Terms logo for website

A Word to the Wise

Despite advertisements that promise “how to read music in 15 minutes”… learning a language takes time. Be patient

Module 2: Why the Recorder? logo for website

The Perfect Instrument for Learning to Read Music

Portable, Cheap, No bells & whistles to distract, Lightweight logo for website

Assemble the Recorder

They come in 2 or 3 pieces – Head joint, Body & Foot joint logo for website

Recorder Hand Positions

Diagrams, Pictures and Video to get you started Correctly logo for website

Your First Sound

Everything you need for Fun and Good Tone

Module 3: Reading Music logo for website

Introduction to Notes

When to begin a sound, and when to stop logo for website

Counting Notes

You’ll learn to count notes as easily as counting Money logo for website

Counting Rests

For every Note, there is a Rest of the same value logo for website

Pitch / The Staff / Treble Clef

How High or how Low a sound is logo for website

Names of Notes

Learn to call each Note by its full name

Module 4: SEE it  SAY it  PLAY it logo for website

The Goal

Recognize the rhythm, Say it out loud, Play it on your instrument logo for website

First Note - 3rd Line B

Learn the WHAT, WHERE & HOW of each note logo for website

Counting Lesson #1

Quarter Notes & Quarter Rests logo for website

Time Signatures

Two numbers that tell you Everything (almost) logo for website

Write and Clap and Play

Rhythm is the most fundamental element of music… ALL music. logo for website

Send Off

We have covered a LOT, but it’s Time To PLay Music

Module 5: Play along with the Band logo for website

Quarter Notes and Quarter Rests

Easy Rock groove for 3rd Line B logo for website

Boogie with a B

Enjoy this Boogie-Woogie Blues logo for website

Counting Lesson #2

Half Notes & Half Rests logo for website

Don't Bumble the B's

A relaxed Shuffle for Quarter Notes & Half Notes logo for website


Play along with the HTRM Marching Band

Module 6: More Notes logo for website

Counting Lesson #3

Whole Notes & Whole Rests logo for website

New Note - Second Space A

And some exercises for your fingers logo for website

Mr. Whole Note / Breathe / Playing with the Orchestra

Songs to get Second Space A on point logo for website

Note Values / Review Questions

Whole notes, Half notes & Quarter notes reviewed logo for website

Can you SEE it, SAY it and PLAY it yet?

“Tu”, “Toe” and “Ta” Review

Module 7: Say it out Loud logo for website

New Note - Second Line G / Repeat Signs

Adding another Note to your ABC’s logo for website

Merrily We Roll Along /Mister G and Me

A funky up-tempo arrangement of a well-known Folk tune logo for website

Multiple Measure Rests / Examples

Easy way to notate resting for several measures logo for website


This Sci-fi sounding Waltz includes all 3 of your notes

Module 8: Tie it All Together logo for website

Counting Lesson #4 - TIE

A line that connects notes of the same Pitch logo for website

New Note - D Below the Staff / Tie it Together

Gentle Ballad to practice your new Note w/ Ties logo for website

3 + 2 = 5 / Clapping exercises

Composition in 5/4 with 3-2 pulse logo for website

Add the Barlines

Write in the barlines where they go logo for website

Two in the Bar / No More Than Three / 1,2,3,4 No More / 2 + 3 = 5

From MOR to Reggae, these tunes will challenge and teach

Module 9: Building Vocabulary logo for website

Jazz Combo / Fast Finger Fun (drills)

Practice these exercises until they are effortless logo for website

Review Questions

Notation symbols and Quiz logo for website

The Phrase

 From single letters to words to sentences

Module 10: Eighth Notes logo for website

Counting Lesson #5 / 8th Notes and 8th Rests

Divide one beat into Two Equal Parts logo for website

Clap and Count Out Loud

Add material here logo for website

Count, Label & Play / Count, Label, Rest & Play

Transition from single letters to words logo for website

Mary Had a Little Lamb / Write out the Tune

Practice writing a rhythm chart for Old Mac, London Bridge, Head & Shoulders Knees & Toes, etc. logo for website

You know More than you Think

You already know the sound, now connect the notation

Module 11: Musical Styles logo for website

Introduction to Genres and Styles

How do we have different kinds of Music? logo for website

Reggae from Jamaica

Find some more modern examples and mention logo for website


Add material here & download song minus notes logo for website

Tie the 8th Notes / Rock N' Roll 8th Notes

Transition from single letters to words logo for website

Good Ole' Country Music

work out spacing

Module 12: The Band Gives Clues logo for website

A Musical Score / Roadmap

Listen for style, dynamics and FORM – even when lost logo for website

New Note - First Space F / Salsa!

Introduction to terms: Fine & D.C. al Fine logo for website

Turkish Dance

Longest song yet with D.C. al Fine. Percussion cues? logo for website

Happy Days: Music of the 50's

Maybe give drum/bass track for fun? logo for website

Review Quiz / "Ear Training" Test

Multiple choice Guitar rhythm track notation???

Module 13: Dotted Notes logo for website

Counting Lesson #6 - The Dot

This dot isn’t a period, it gives you 1/2 more value logo for website

Music of the Troubadours / Native Tom-Toms

Playing the dotted Half Note in 3/4 and 4/4 logo for website

Familiar Examples

Song list of well-known movie themes and pop songs logo for website

Count and Clap Exercises / Dictation quiz

Drills in different Time Signatures logo for website

New Orleans / Give Me That Old Time Religion

Create some drill for dotted quarter – work for speed

Module 14: Tempo Markings logo for website

Adagio, Andante, Allegro / Additional Terms

Speed and Character of the Music logo for website

The Ballroom Waltz / Waltz for Dave

Every song has a tempo that is “just right” logo for website

New Note - 3rd Space C / Fast Finger Fun / "In One"

Practice for speed and accuracy. Just FYI logo for website

Television Theme Song / BPM chart

How many Beats Per Minute? logo for website

Combining Dotted Quarter notes for Effect

Try this interesting rhythm in various Time Signatures (C&C)

Module 15: Signs & Symbols logo for website

D.C. al fine / D.S. al fine

More Signs to Navigate your Music logo for website

Sketches of Spain

Test your Eyes, Ears & Hands in this fun 5/4 composition logo for website

Beach Music

Can you hear the band instruments? Score & part quiz logo for website

Review Questions

Questions, Definitions & How Many Counts? logo for website

Well done!

Only 2 more Modules to complete

Module 16: Softly & Loudly logo for website

Dynamics / New Note - 4th Line D

Variety of volume, just like speaking logo for website

Cruise Control / Mexico

Two fun songs using 4th line D logo for website

Terms for Volume / Hey Senorita

in the style of a traditional Mexican folk song logo for website

How Firm A Foundation / Dynamics are Exciting

Develop the technique to play different volumes logo for website

Alouette / I Gave My Love a Cherry

2 Play-along songs in different styles

Module 17: Sixteenth Notes logo for website

Counting Lesson #7 - 16th notes & 16th rests

Divide one count into FOUR equal parts logo for website

Ticky-Ticky-Ticky-Ticky-Ti-Ti-Ta / Percussion Ensemble

These percussive tunes are tricky and Fun logo for website

Counting Lesson #9 / Arrowhead of the Sioux

Popular combination of 8ths & 16ths logo for website

Shortnin' Bread / Tongue Twisters

Folk song and technique drills for “double-tonguing” logo for website


This Asian melody combines just about everything you know logo for website

Review Questions

Multiple choice, Label & Play, Aural Dictation. Wow!

Module 18: Bonus Lessons logo for website


Explanation, Examples, Exercises and Play-along charts. The Itsy Bitsy Spider, The Hokey Pokey, Happy Birthday logo for website

Sharps & Flats

What they are and how to use them logo for website

Key Signatures

System for defining the tonal center/key of a composition logo for website

Harmony & Chord Progressions

What makes a chord and how it is related to other chords logo for website

Lead Sheets

A Crash Course in reading & interpreting logo for website

Rhythm Charts / Chord Charts

How to Read & Create a Basic Layout logo for website

Nashville Number System

A great notation system for specific needs

how to read music-see it, say it, play it by Paul Babelay
Paul Babelay - author of How To Read Music: See it, Say it, Play it.

Paul Babelay


(aka “The Vibe Guy”) is an American vibraphonist, percussionist, drummer and composer.  Ray Hair, President of the American Federation of Musicians says, “I would categorize his musicianship and performance ability to rate among the top five (5) percent of all professional musicians throughout the United States and Canada”.

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