My daughter (7 years old) can play recorder and is learning to play the piano.

For the recorder, she sometimes has the letters written under the notes. She doesn't think she can read all of the notes for recorder without the letters under them.

For the piano, she thinks that she can read most of the notes.

Personally, I know nothing about music, so my daughter has helped me write this post - I hope it makes sense.

Question 1: Is piano sheet music and recorder sheet music the same?

Question 2: If they are not the same, what are the differences?

  • 3
    Good for you for supporting your daughter's interest in music. Learning recorder can provide a lifetime of enjoyment.
    – user1044
    Feb 18, 2014 at 16:30

1 Answer 1


Yes, both piano music and recorder music are written with the same kind of music notation, using the same kinds of symbols. The pitch "A" on the piano and the same pitch "A" on the recorder are written with the same musical note in sheet music.

I do not know, but I suspect that the problem your daughter is encountering is of a different nature:

On the piano, the keys are laid out in a numerical order that corresponds to the pitches. It's easy to see how one note follows the next, and where to put your fingers to find the next note.

On the recorder, however, producing different notes requires a different arrangement of the fingers on the instrument that does not line up in a nice linear arrangement like you find on the piano keyboard.

I suspect your daughter (and she's only 7, so this is a difficult task for her) finds it easy to correlate the position of a note on the musical staff with the correct key on the piano. However, she finds it difficult to correlate the position of the fingering necessary to produce a note on the recorder with the position of the same note on the sheet music. So she needs the extra help of having the name of the note written in to kind of "jog her memory" to associate the name of the note with the fingering.

None of this should be a problem. As she continues to practice the recorder, these things will become second nature and she will gradually become more able to do the mental work and the fingering work in real time as she plays the recorder and reads the sheet music.

  • 2
    Exactly so! I still distinctly remember when I learned violin as a child having a "Eureka!" moment when I learned "space-notes" are open strings or two fingers, and "line-notes" are one finger or three fingers. This is the kind of learning that can only be done through practice!
    – adsmith
    Feb 10, 2014 at 23:50
  • Very good answer. In particular, for a soprano recorder, the low F and middle C and D are the fingerings that break the 'lift-a-finger' pattern in the low register.
    – ohmi
    Feb 11, 2014 at 18:30
  • Thank you for your answer. My daughter is much less confused and also much less frustrated now! She is back to enjoying both piano and recorder playing, and she also seems to be progressing with learning to read the notes.
    – Chris Snow
    Feb 19, 2014 at 14:40
  • 3
    "The pitch "A" on the piano and the same pitch "A" on the recorder are written with the same musical note in sheet music." No, they aren't if we are talking the most common recorder, the soprano recorder. It is notated one octave lower than it is played. Like singing in the wrong octave, this can be thoroughly confusing until your Western musical education has progressed to the point where you become indifferent to octaves.
    – User8773
    Apr 26, 2014 at 7:11

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.