Tag Archives: learning note names

Animal Alphabet Memory Match

Animal Alphabet Memory Match GameAnimal Alphabet Memory Match

My students love memory games. Maybe it is because I have such a bad memory I never win!

I made this game for a student who is learning the notes on the staff around middle C. You might notice the illustrations are the same I’ve used in a lot of beginning activities. [A few years ago I wrote a set of short songs for each of these animals and the links are at the end of this post.]


  • The object of the game is to match the alphabet letter to the correct note on the staff.
  • Open the PDF in the latest version of Adobe Reader.
  • Print the first page on card stock.
  • Re-insert the first page into your computer and print on the back. (You might need to practice how to print on the back using scrap paper.) There is a tutorial in my FAQ page about how to print on the back of PDF documents.
  • Laminate the cards for durability. Cut them along the dotted lines.
  • Place the cards face down in a 4 x 4 grid as shown above.
  • The first player turns over 2 cards. If they match he keeps them and takes another turn. If not, it is the second player’s turn.
  • The second person continues in the same way.
  •  The player with the most cards wins.


  • To identify the names of notes located around middle C.
  • To improve visual memory skills.


  • Young beginners through ages 7 or 8.

Grid to Help Young Children Play Memory Games

Young students often have trouble playing memory games because they don’t realize after they look at a card they have to put it back in the exact same space. I use this grid, glued to the file folder that holds the cards, to help them put it back in the correct space.

Memory Game Grid

Animal Alphabet Songs Teaching Beginning Notes

A is for Alligator

B is for Bears Playing Baseball

Pat the Cat

Dogs Eating Doughnuts  (The Doughnut Mystery)

E is for Elephant

Frogs Wearing Flip Flops

G is for Giraffe


Don’t forget the cards that match notes using clothes pins. These are a fun manipulative for preschool children.



Filed under Games, Note Identification, Preschool Music Resources

Personalize Your Binder Covers: An Editable PDF

Editable Binder CoverEditable Binder Cover

Today I am posting a binder cover that you can personalize by typing directly on the PDF before you print it. It’s kind of clunky, but I’m sharing it anyway because it can be a real time saver. The editing part is kind of a hidden feature that you don’t have to use.


  • Open the PDF in the latest version of Adobe Reader. (This is the same free program you probably use to print all of my material.)
  • There are two text fields. (See the arrows above where I wrote Zachary and Piano Binder. You do not have to use my wording.)
  • I formatted the text fields to be centered so you will be starting in the center of each field.
  • Select “Highlight Existing Fields.” This will show you where to type.
  • You should see a large blinking cursor.
  • Type any text you desire, but it has to fit in the field. Adjust your wording to fit because to my knowledge you cannot adjust the size.
  • If you have trouble seeing the blinking cursor, using the graphic above as a guide, click in the middle of where I typed.
  • If you can’t get it to work use the method I mentioned in my last post.

Adobe Reader does not let you change fonts, size, and color to the best of my knowledge. Adobe designed the program to be used for filling out forms, not for designs! Maybe there is a way I don’t know about!

This makes a nice binder front or back for a new student. It matches the calendar I posted last week.

If you like editable PDF’s, let me know and I can make some more in the future.


Filed under Music Printables, Note Identification, Teaching Aids

Fun With Frogs: Easy Notes on the Staff

Fun With Frogs Easy Notes on the Staff

Frog Notes on the Staff

Frog Treble and Bass Notes

I hope you didn’t give up on me posting the final set in the Fun With Frogs series. I was out-of-town several days, meeting all the wonderful teachers at the Texas Music Teachers Convention.   The Texas convention is huge and there was so much going on. I lost my iPad containing my presentations, found it, lost my iPhone, found it, and walked and talked a lot.

It was so exciting that my friend and teaching colleague Elizabeth Gutierrez won the TMTA pre-collegiate teacher of the year!

Speaking of Elizabeth, my next presentation is in San Antonio where I will speak at her Piano Camp for Piano Teachers. I’m going to open the iPad on-screen and show you how to use it. Elizabeth has some great sessions planned, like how to teach technique after the elementary level, the best classical pieces, and how to teach secure rhythm. Her students play so beautifully and polished, so I am looking forward to that.

Today’s post has piano worksheets for the notes around middle C position for young beginners. Print these sheets or open them in your iPad.

If you like these, you will probably like the others in the Frog series. These are all free downloads, because I just like to share!

Learning Piano Keys

Beginning Rhythm

Finger Numbers and Left/Right Hands

Frogs in Flip Flops – This 12-measure song uses only two notes, F and C. There are words and a teacher duet.

Below is something I did with my student to help him remember treble F. We had a lot of fun with Mr. Frog!

Mr Frog Learns F





Filed under Group lesson ideas, iPad Ideas, Preschool Music Resources, Worksheets

One Minute Challenge

OneMInuteClubPP2014One Minute Challenge 2014

Jane Bastien,  composer, method book author,  and piano pedagogy expert talked about an idea that I use with my piano students. This post explains how I do it. 

I thought up the idea of a different card each year when I noticed my elementary students liked to collect cards and put things in scrapbooks. You can watch a video here of my students saying and playing flash cards.  If you need little mini cards, click here for mini grand staff cards and here for mini ledger line cards. If you use different color card stock for each level, it makes it easier.

Teachers who do this each year have their own way of doing things. Some tell me they have different sets of cards for each level. Some use less cards for younger students and more cards for high school students.

Included in this year’s PDF file is the set of “membership cards” that are made to be printed on pre-perforated business card stock, a large certificate for those of you who like to give out certificates at your recital, and a chart to post each student’s time, as they try each week to improve.

Since I’ve written at length about this over the years, here are some frequently asked questions from the past.

What is the One Minute Challenge?

This is a way for students to learn to say and play notes on the grand staff. If they can do it in 60 seconds or less, they get this membership card. Once a student is the fastest in my studio, they win a gift card (my students like iTunes or restaurant cards) and “retire.”  This is something that my students look forward to each year.

What is the age of students who participate?

I made the cards for children about age 8 to 11, but most my older students participate in the contest, unless they were the overall fastest in a previous year.  In my studio, it takes several years of lessons before a student can do this in less than one minute. Only a few students in grades 3  can do the entire grand staff, so I don’t try that with younger students. This year, I am going to try something different and use just the 9 cards around middle C for my K-grade 3 students. They asked to join in the fun, so we’ve been preparing all year. Use your judgement as a teacher.

How many flash cards do you use?

I use 21 cards, the entire grand staff from bass G to treble F. As I said above, this year I am trying something different. 

What do they do with the cards?

I give my elementary age students a plastic badge holder with a chain and attach it to their music bag. I ask middle school students if they want one. Some teachers post them on the wall.

Why do they have to play the note as well as say it? Isn’t it enough to know the name of the note?

Piano students need to know where to quickly move their hands when they see a note that is not in a five-finger position. This is not a cure for students who can’t sight read because they have difficulty tracking notes on the staff and/or other problems that often seem insurmountable. However, for average students, I notice sight reading skills improve as they learn where to move their hands. Good sight readers do not think of individual notes as they play, but in patterns of intervals. This is just one part of the difficult skill of sight-reading.

How much time do you spend on this at a lesson?

I run the challenge for about 2 months. I don’t think a lot of time should be spent on this. Just a couple of minutes each week can reap great rewards if the student is prepared in the first place. If students take over 2 minutes, I usually need to prepare them better before I start timing. Often the problem is simply developmental. Students need to learn gradually and in a child-centered manner. That takes time and patience on the teacher’s part. Before you start flash cards, use a lot of activities and games to learn the note names. There are many free resources on my website and other sites in the links on this blog. Don’t let this turn into drudgery!

I gave up on this because my students don’t like flash cards. Do you have any suggestions?

Some teachers can make this fun and some can’t. If you still want to try, make sure they are old enough, know all their notes, and have the potential to be successful. Do a lot of note naming activities before you start. Prepare them well. Realize that not everyone in your studio has to participate.  There are many pages of note naming resources on my website and other websites. If your student has a learning disability, tread very carefully. Not every idea works with every student. I have had students who freeze up when they are being timed, especially if they are older beginners.

These cards are not centered correctly when I print them out on my blank business cards. What am I doing wrong?  

When you print the PDF file, under “size options” select “actual size.” You need the latest update to Adobe Reader for it to print correctly. This is a free download you can get at the Adobe Reader website.












Filed under Note Identification, Teaching Aids