How do I read music to sing a piece?

I don’t know where to post this question. I will try it here it’s a beginner question.

I want to sing a piece of music but i don’t understand it.

So for exemple in picture that i uploaded there are notes on stave and chords above. What should i play notes or chords? Are the same?

Or i see many times notes and tabs plus chords and i am confuse… which should i play when?


Dealing with you mentioning singing.

Far be it from me a beginner singer to offer advice, but I am taking lessons.

To be able read the notes on the stave and sing the right pitches for the melody I think you have to be a very accomplished singer to do that.

What I do is the listen and sing along to original many times and I mean many times and then sing along to a karaoke version, and then my teacher offers advice when I sing it to her. What I also do is mark up the chord lyrics sheet where the pitches go up and down, I find that helps a lot in how it might or might not match the chord changes, of course if doesn’t mean I sing the right pitch, that’s where the teacher comes in.

Just my take on it, but if I am honest I sing much better when not playing but I think that’s inevitable.



I don’t sing either, but I’ll give my take.
I think the notes on the staff are the melody (the vocal part). What you sing. If you were to play the notes (on your guitar) on the staff, I’ll usually find that it’s the melody.
The chords listed above the staff are the corresponding chords that go along with the melody that’s written on the staff.
So you play the chords on your guitar (the chords listed above the staff). And you sing the notes written on the staff with music notes.

Tabs, to me, many times are written as both notes and chords. Tabs, to me are a kinda shorthand for writing chords and notes together. Many times, the notes (the tab written for playing a individual string at wherever on the fretboard) falling within the chord.

Hopefully someone who knows exactly will come along and fill us all in. :wink:


What I don’t understand is the following: what do the chords above the stand have to do with the notes on the stand?

I made a screenshot to be better understood.

When i play at guitar what and when i play that C chord for exemple and when i do play notes on stativ? There are 4 times C chord but the notes are not the same. I am confused… and sometimes there are TABS under standard notes too but in my exemple are no tabs.

So I play first notes? and then chords? or i play notes and chords same time? but how???

Hi Sorin,

in the pic you shared you have the melody as notes on the stand. The chords above are giving the harmonic background to the melody line, i.e. for accompaniment.

So for the first bar, you’d play a C-chord and “sing” the 4 notes. Second bar first played and F-chord, then a C-chord and so on. The chord names above create the harmony, notes below the melody.

How you put these together is a matter of arrangement. I hope this helps a little. :slight_smile:


The notes on the staff are the melody notes for Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.
The chord names are the chord hat provide the underlying harmony structure (chord progression).
Every melody note is also a chord tone - a note found within the underlying chord.
Look at the melody overlaid with the chords shown (in grey).

Each chord contains the melody note.
If you strum the chord the melody note may be lost in the overall sound.
If you pluck with fingers you can accent the melody note a little.
If you are singing, just sing the melody as the chords sound.

My simple take. Which ain’t so simple it seems.

Note. Key of C. No sharps, no flats.
1st measure is notes CCGG.
1st chord is C. C is made up of notes CDEFGAB. C and G are in the first measure so these notes are within the C scale and work well together.
If I were to play that measure, I’d play it.
Strum C chord, then individually pick C,C, G,G…
Then I’d play the F chord. Note, F chord is the IV of the C major scale.
So second measure I’d play F on first beat. Note, A is the 1st note of the 2nd measure. A is within the F scale. FGABbCDE. So second measure, I’d play F chord, which one of which notes is A, then I’d pick the 2nd note, A followed by the C chord which contains the note G for the half note.
Then comes that G7.
The note is F which is still a part of a C scale, G is the 5th of the C chord, so it works good. Note, F is part of a G7 chord and is played within the chord G7. Albeit, a octave above the note written. So to actually play that note as written, you’d have to mod your G7 chord to include the note F by adding your pinky down on the 3rd fret, 4th string. It would still be a G7 chord. So you’d play the G7 chord 1st followed by picking the individual note F on the second beat. Followed by the note E where you’d play the C chord on the third beat, which containes the note E followed by the G7 Chord again on beat 1, beat two ya’d pick that F then switch to the Chord C, which contains the note C.

Twikle twikle little star… :slight_smile:

Hope that made sense. Hope that is correct. Hope someone comes by and says it correct if it’s not.

Point is. Play the chord where it’s written followed by the individual notes for however many beats to next chord change. Play chord on that beat followed by individual notes till next change.

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To simplify what @HappyCat is trying to say.
The C chord is made from the notes C E G
The first barre is CCGG is the Root and fifth of the C chord
The second red circle is a half note G the fifth of the C Chord
The third red circle is the note E the third of the C chord
The last red circle is D and C the D is a passing note back to the C
All these notes exept for the D are in the C chord so you can play the C chord over all these note while singing the notes on the stave.
It is the same with the other notes and chord

The D note occurs while G7 is still the underlying chord and D is in the G7 chord.

Thanks Rick @stitch for simplifying what I tried to say. What I said for sure needed simplifying.