Writing Music Neatly

It is very important that you write music in a way that is easy for others to read. Practise regularly, and look back at music you have written previously, to see if you can read it yourself!

handwriting music

Common Mistakes

Here are some very common mistakes that students make when writing out music – make sure you don’t make them!

  • Don’t forget to put the bar line at the end of the extract.
  • The first note of each bar is always the same distance (about 1/2 a centimetre) from the barline on its left.
  • Accidentals are written on the left hand side of the note head, in the line/space of the note they affect.
  • Try to keep the same distance between the notes as you see in the original.
  • Make sure the note stems are pointing in the right direction.
  • Black note-heads must be a good solid colour – make sure you can see no white space at all inside the notehead.
  • Don’t make the note heads too big.
  • Don’t forget ties!
  • Ledger lines are an extension of the stave and should be the same height apart, and slightly wider than the note heads. In this example, the B ledger line is too high, and the A ledger line is not wide enough!
incorrect ledger line

Handwriting Exercises

Copying Out Music

This is something which is really easy to practise at home!

Find any piece of music, take a piece of manuscript paper and copy exactly what you see.

Choose music which has a lot of performance directions on it – dynamics, foreign terms and symbols, and choose music which has different rhythms, especially with beamed notes, ties and triplets.

Use a well-sharpened pencil and a ruler.

When you’ve finished, look very carefully at your work for mistakes, or better still, ask somebody else to look at it for you.

Keep practising!

Here are some excerpts you can use for practice: