How to Assess the Difficulty of a Music Score

Picture this. You listen to a composition and immediately fall in love with it. You can’t wait to learn it, so you start browsing around for a sheet music publisher that provides the music score. You finally find a sheet music of the composition, but when you look through it, you have no idea how to assess it. If only you knew how to assess the difficulty of a music score!


Fortunately, we’ve put together a brief guide to help you out. Here are three ways to assess the difficulty of a music score.


Check the Variation of the Notes


Sheet music contains a staff consisting of five lines and four spaces in between. The position of the notes on the staff determines what key it is, and there are two clefs—the treble clef and the bass clef. Clefs are used to assign notes to the lines and spaces. For instance, on a treble clef, any note placed on the second line from the bottom of the staff is a “G.”


Music scores with a ton of variation between the notes are more difficult to play. In simpler words, if the notes don’t follow a pattern and the spaces between the notes constantly change, the score is likely to be quite difficult!


Look for Odd and Even Time Signatures


Did you know time signatures reflect the rhythm of a music score? They consist of two numbers written next to the clef. The top number denotes the number of beats in the measure, and the bottom number tells the reader what note the beats are in. For instance, a 4/4 time signature contains 4 beats and 4 quarter notes in the measure.


If the time signature contains odd numbers, the music score will be difficult because the beat will be odd. Time signatures like 5/4 and 7/4 are highly difficult to play because our sense of rhythm is more in tune with groups of 2.



Observe the Number of Dynamic Markings Made by the Composer


It’s common for composers to write letters or words under the staff to let performers know how loudly they must play that section of the score. These are known as dynamic markings.


For instance, composers often write a lowercase ‘f’ or ‘p’ in certain sections of a music score. The lowercase ‘f’ stands for “forte”—the Italian word for “loud”—while the lowercase ‘p’ stands for “piano”—the Italian word for quiet.


If there are numerous dynamic markings on the sheet, the composition will be more difficult to play because the musicians playing it will need to frequently alternate between playing loudly and softly.


If you're looking for a music publisher for aspiring musicians, look no further than Jasberger Music. We provide an array of free organ sheet music via our online shop for aspiring musicians to practice with. We’ve also uploaded a couple of amazing organ music albums by our resident organist Jacob Hershberger, and we offer music lessons online via our YouTube channel.


Drop us an email at hello@jasbergermusic.com for more information.

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