The direction of the line doesn’t affect how you play the note but serves as a way to make the notes easier to read while allowing them to fit neatly on the staff.
As a rule, any notes at or above the B line on the staff have downward pointing stems, those notes below the B line have upward pointing stems.
Learning to read music really does open up a whole new world to explore!
Follow our step-by-step introduction to the language of music below, download your FREE tools at the end of this article, and you’ll be playing along in no time at all.
Every note has a note head, either filled (black) or open (white).
Where the note head sits on the staff (either on a line or space) determines which note you will play.
Whether a note head is filled or open shows us the note’s value, or how long that note should be held. An open note that looks like an “o” without a stem is a whole note, and it gets held for four beats.
There are other ways to extend the length of a note.
Music is made up of a variety of symbols, the most basic of which are the staff, the clefs, and the notes.
All music contains these fundamental components, and to learn how to read music, you must first familiarize yourself with these basics. Each of those lines and each of those spaces represents a different letter, which in turn represents a note.