Category Archives: NoteBoys

The Incredible Whole Rest – Another NoteBoy Poster

The Incredible Whole Rest

The Incredible Whole Rest

Do your students think that a whole rest always gets 4 beats? If so, they probably get confused when they are asked to add a rest for the entire measure in 3/4 time and not use dotted rests! According to the Oxford Concise Dictionary of Music, “The whole-note rest is used as a whole measure rest, irrespective of the actual time-value of the measure.”

I print out my NoteBoy posters on cardstock and laminate them. Then I place them on the sofa table in my studio for students to read and chuckle before their lesson. Humor has a way of sticking to your memory!

Teachers always ask me who is the note with the red cape and mask who always has a little comment to make. He is Mighty Dot, the super hero who wears black and flies to notes to make them longer. He’s a powerful guy. In my mind he has an accent kind of like Zorro, and he is an expert in rhythm and all things theory related!

If you are not familiar with my NoteBoy posters, check them out. There are NoteBoy posters on all kinds of music theory, such as lead sheet, ledger lines, and chord inversions, and they are all my gift to your music students.  My students love them! Let me know if yours do, too!

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Filed under NoteBoys, Rhythm, Teaching Business, Texas State Theory Test, Theory

The NoteBoys Present Roman Numerals

Roman Numerals Presented by the NoteBoys

I’ve finished another NoteBoy cartoon in my theory series. I made this one simply to explain Roman numerals to students. I discovered a long time ago that some students haven’t heard of Roman numerals, so they don’t get the concept that Roman numerals are simply another way to write a number. Even high school students often don’t know what Arabic numbers are. It makes it hard to explain that inversions use a Roman numeral followed by an Arabic number. I hope this helps explain it to them in a humorous way.

I took Latin, and being kind of a history buff, I thought I’d also put in a few references to Caesar. Maybe some students will read up a little more about the history of the Roman Empire.


Filed under NoteBoys, Theory

The NoteBoys Explain Ledger Lines

The NoteBoys Explain Ledger Lines

If you are new to this blog, you might not know about the NoteBoys. These little guys are in a series of comics I draw to help students learn a little about music theory.

The NoteBoys think of themselves as actors who teach theory. BlueBoy is very confident and thinks he knows every thing. He’s the fearless leader of the group. RedBoy is the smart, hardworking one, but he is always foiled by BlueBoy. They remain pals anyway. GreenBoy knows a lot more than he thinks he does, but he doesn’t have confidence in himself.

Also appearing every now and then is MightyDot, and the famous PianoGirl.

My students love this series and can’t wait to see what the NoteBoys are up to next.

One teacher told me that she  put them all in a binder for students to read before or after lessons. I will often pull them out to explain things because we all know students remember better when they learn through humor. If you want to see the other NoteBoy comics, do a search on the right. The ones explaining chord inversions are very helpful.


Filed under NoteBoys, Theory

How to Play a Lead Sheet in One Easy Lesson

How to Play a Lead Sheet in One Easy Lesson

BlueBoy has fallen in love, GreenBoy is worried about copyright (aren’t we all), and RedBoy is mad that a girl as smart as him has arrived on the scene. If you aren’t familiar with my NoteBoy™ series of theory sheets, check them out.

When I was a teen I discovered very inexpensive fake books of popular music sold on the magazine rack of the local drug store. When I purchased my first one, (the Beatles) I  didn’t realize there was not a bass staff until I got home and saw only a melody line in the treble clef with chords. That was fine by me. I had already taught myself to play folk guitar so I was familiar with just chords and a melody line. In the enthusiasm of youth, I plunged into it and had lots of fun. It was easier for me than actually reading the music because I was a little lazy, I suppose.  

As a piano teacher, I have found that playing from a lead sheet doesn’t come as naturally to all of my students as it did for me. A lot of them are not interested, or maybe they need the comfort level of everything being written down. But some students want to learn how so they can play in praise bands, jazz groups, or  keyboard in garage bands. Some teachers want to get their students started, but are not quite sure where to begin.

I like to start from the beginning when I teach something, so I made a very straightforward handout in black and white, very serious and boring. But being my usual distracted self, I soon started adding  arrows and then color, and before too long, cartoons. I’ve found that my students are more attracted to something if there is a little humor and it is certainly more fun for me. Did you know that studies show people learn easier if humor is involved?

With that background, today I present a little handout that you can use to introduce your students to the world of playing notes that are not on the page. The students I made this for have been introduced to I and V7 chords in the key of C and are comfortable playing them. The age of the student will vary, but I make these NoteBoy sheets for students about age 11 and up.  Even my high school students love the NoteBoys when they are visually explaining things like chord inversions.   I do not suggest you use this with students who are in the beginning stages of learning to play the I and V7 chord progression.

What comes after this? One thing you can do is write the popular chords along with the Roman numeral analysis in their music so they can learn right away that  I V7  I   is  C  G7  C   or   G   D7   G.  Roman numeral analysis is necessary if students are serious about music, but  I think students need to learn both, and the theory behind the numbers and letters.

I would like to thank the excellent teachers Marcia and Deborah who graciously looked this sheet over and made some helpful suggestions.

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The Notorious NoteBoys™ Teach Major Scales

What is a Major Scale

If you’re not familiar with my NoteBoys, they are the characters I use to add a little humor to music theory. My students have learned the personalities of each NoteBoy and look forward to new installments of the series. I usually make one good copy, laminate it, and keep it on the sofa table so that students can look at it while they wait for their lesson. I also pull them out when I see that students need a more visual explanation of some theory concepts. Some teachers put them in a binder with plastic sheet protectors and have the students use a dry erase marker on the sheet protector.

If you haven’t seen all my NoteBoy posters, here are the links to some of them.

These three teach chord inversions:

Circle of 5ths:

“Mighty Dot” explains dotted notes:

Last week I was at the Texas Music Teachers convention. I enjoyed meeting a lot of teachers who like my website and I am very humbled by your appreciation of what I do. I brought home a lot of new music and a few books in particular that I want to review. The major publishers were there, but unfortunately some of their sessions were at the same time so I’m sure there was a lot I missed.

In addition to reviews, I have another Noteboy poster in the pipeline and I have a few more beginning worksheets that I’ve not posted yet.


Filed under NoteBoys, Texas State Theory Test, Theory