I really like playing the piano, but i don't enjoy reading sheet music. I could see myself as a pianist when I have the qualification to become one. But as I said, I don't know how to read those notes! Do I need to?

  • 1
    This has to depend (partly) on what you want to play?
    – DavidW
    Dec 19, 2020 at 22:04
  • DavidW I play mostly classical music, but i also prefer pop
    – anonymous
    Dec 19, 2020 at 22:09
  • Why was this question closed? This is not a duplicate question. OP is asking whether or not he can be a quality pianist without reading sheet music, whereas the linked question asks about writing music. The two are related but are completely different skills Dec 20, 2020 at 1:53
  • Trying to work out how the two questions are dupes. Similar, but that's about all. Reopen.
    – Tim
    Dec 20, 2020 at 12:05

5 Answers 5


Depends on what your definition of "good" pianist is. Reading sheet music is a skill that would certainly greatly aid you in becoming a good pianist, but isn't strictly required. If you are a prodigy of some sort, you could probably reinvent the wheel and be figure everything out by ear. Not unheard of - The Beatles could not read or write sheet music and they are widely considered to be some of the best pop artists EVER

tl;dr you're likely not a genius one-in-a-million prodigy, so you should learn how to read sheet music. It also isn't super difficult after your practice for a while


'...when I have the qualification...' That entails being able to read sheet music. Funny, but pianists are expected to, while guitarists often aren't!

To get those qualifications, from any accredted source, music will need to be read. It's actually part of all exams I know, and if you're going to perform the pieces for those exams, thus qualifications, how can that not include reading?

There are undoubtedly piano players out there who don't read, but most jobs you could be offered will include reading. It's a skill, and one worth getting under your belt.

  • 2
    I think the world gave up on guitarists after the 60s. Reading was common among guitarists. When I auditioned for a spot in a large Band in the 90s the conductor couldn't believe a sight reading guitarist existed. The spot was empty for decades.
    – user50691
    Dec 20, 2020 at 14:56
  • thanks for the information and your point of view on the problem! I have now started learning notes. :D
    – anonymous
    Dec 21, 2020 at 14:43

What is your definition of a "good pianist"?

Great musicians earn a living playing music for hire. This almost necessarily required sight reading skills. You could survive without it but you'd be missing out on a lot of work opportunities.

If by great you mean a performance virtuoso then maybe you don't need to be able to read. But that would be rare. And your only real avenue for earning a living would be to get lucky and become a world famous star, which is not really a working musician.

I would say, based on your desire to become a working pianist, yes reading is a required job skill.


Depends. If by "good" you mean playing mainly for yourself, maybe occasionally family and friends, then no. Getting a good sense of rhythm and playing expressively doesn't technically require sight reading.

But if you want to play and communicate with other (professional) musicians, you'd have to be really good to get away without being able to read sheet music. So, unless you don't mind being treated like an idiot all the time, just get it over with and learn those notes. ;-)

  • I've started to be able to read sheet-music, and as you and many others said, it's ain't that hard actually! So thank you and all the others for the motivation! ;D
    – anonymous
    Dec 21, 2020 at 14:38

Yes. This way you can access music that is not recorded nor will you need to have someone play pieces for you.

It's not hard. You can learn to read a melody line and chords in a week or less. It can take a bit longer to learn the complexities of classical pieces. It's worth the effort.

  • Thank you for the answer and the motivation! I've started to learn sheet-music now, and it wasn't as hard/boring as i thought! :)
    – anonymous
    Dec 21, 2020 at 14:40

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