14 Common Musical Terms All Piano Players Need to Know

As you’re learning how to read music on the piano, you’ll come across a lot of different words and terms that will seem like a foreign language. And that’s because… they are!

Most sheet music terms you’ll see are Italian, or have Italian roots, while others are taken from French, German, Latin, or Spanish. But don’t worry — you don’t need to learn how to speak Italian fluently to be a good piano player. There are many piano terms and symbols, but the 14 listed in the infographic below are some of the most common. If you understand these, you’ll be able to play many famous piano pieces in the way the composer intended — and become a better piano player as you continue learning!

piano terms

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*Special thanks to online piano teacher Crystal B. for her help with these music term definitions!*

What other sheet music terms have you come across? Do you have any tips for memorizing them? Leave a comment with your questions and advice!


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Feature photo by Justin Beckley

11 replies
  1. Julie Myers
    Julie Myers says:

    My daughter really wants to learn piano, so I am thinking about signing her up for classes. It sounds like there are a few terms that she will need to know to become a really good piano player, such as allegro and crescendo, as well as what a sharp sign is. I think that it might be good to check up with her every lesson, just to see what she is learning. I will also encourage her to practice often so that she will be able to learn these terms and apply them to her playing. Thanks for sharing this great infographic!

  2. Beth Bailey
    Beth Bailey says:

    I teach my children piano lessons and am looking for ways to “decorate” the wall with piano knowledge. Do you mind if I print this out at a photo shop? Or should I not?

    • Brooke Neuman
      Brooke Neuman says:

      Hi Beth-Of course you can! We also have a ton of other really great piano infographics that might be useful too!

  3. ssapptricks
    ssapptricks says:

    very useful information about learning how to read music on the pianoThis is a very interesting web page and I have enjoyed reading many of the articles and posts contained on the website, keep up the good work and hope to read some more interesting content in the future.


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