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Beginner Musical Symbols

Find explanations and examples of the musical signs and symbols found in piano music, and get visual aids for understanding sheet music.

Note Accents & Articulation Marks
Learn about "articulation" and see the most common note accents in action.

Music Note-Lengths in U.S. & U.K. English
Learn to read the different music note symbols, including eighth notes, whole notes, quarter notes, and more.

Musical Rest Lengths
Rests convey pauses in music, and are written in lengths just like music notes; see them on the staff.

Playing Notes With Rhythm Dots
Learn to easily count dotted, double-dotted, and triple-dotted notes.

Volume & Dynamics Symbols
See the most commonly-used dynamics symbols and abbreviations, and learn the best methods for interpreting volume commands.

Accidentals & Double-Accidentals
View the different musical accidentals, and learn the purpose of double-sharps and flats.

Understanding Key Signatures
Learn how to read the key signatures, with clear illustrations and help with memorization.

Tempo Commands
Tempo is the speed of a song, and is expressed in music using tempo terms, metronome marks, or both; learn more.

How to Read Time Signatures
Learn to read and write time signatures, and see common meters written on the staff.

Building a Musical Staff
Learn about single barlines, double barlines, final barlines, and measures.

The Piano Grand Staff & Clefs
Learn about the G-clef and F-clef, and memorize the notes of their staves.

What Are Ledger Lines?
Notes that fall off the staff are placed on ledger lines, which can make sight-reading a bit more difficult; learn how to read them, and how they're avoided in notation.

Repeat Barlines
The easiest musical repeat signs are written right into the barlines; learn how to play them.

Segno & Coda Signs
Segno and coda signs belong to a more complex system of musical repeats. Learn how to master commands such as D.S. al coda and D.C. al fine.

8va & Other Octave Commands
You've probably seen abbreviations such as 8va, 8vb, or 15ma; and if you haven't, you will! They make things easier, so you'll want to learn more.

Triplets & Other Tuplets
Triplets are extremely common in piano music, and are identified by a small '3' above or below a note-beam. Learn how to count them with helpful audio examples, and get to know several other types of musical tuplets.

Chord Types & Symbols
Each chord type (major, diminished, seventh) can be signified by a few different symbols; learn how to identify them in sheet music, and build them using easy interval formulas.

Sustain Pedal Marks
The most heavily-used piano foot pedal is the sustain, or "damper" pedal; learn the symbols used to control it in sheet music.

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