How to Read Choir Music

By Susie Keenan

Joining a choir is an excellent way to improve your singing experience. Being able to read the choir music will allow you to participate more easily and learn more about singing. The ability to read choir music will lead you to become a better performer as you follow along with the individual parts that compliment yours.

How to Read Choir Music

Decide what voice part you are. If you naturally sing high, you are either a soprano (for women), or tenor (for men). If you sing low, you are an alto (for women) or bass (for men).

Find the line for your voice part. The lines for parts proceed as follows (starting at the top of the page): soprano, alto, tenor, bass.

Follow the notes. Notes that go up on the staff will go up in pitch as well. Notes that go down go down in pitch. The bigger space between the notes, the longer the interval to be sung between the notes. Different notes will be sung for different amounts of time. The more "tails" a note has, the faster it will be sung. "Hollow" notes will be sung for a longer time than a filled in note.

Follow the words. The words to be sung are generally right below the note they correspond to. If there is a line after a word, that word is to be held out until the line ends.

Pencil in any notes about pronunciation, breathing or anything else about singing the song that may be told to you by your conductor. This will help you remember them for the next time you sing the song.

Tip

An apostrophe in your music means to breathe at that spot.

About the Author

Susie Keenan began writing professionally in 2007. She attended the Rochester Institute of Technology studying psychology, music and American Sign Language. Currently she is pursuing her master's degree in primate behavior at Central Washington University. She interns and researches at the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute, where she cares for chimpanzees who communicate using signs.