The Grand Staff from G to F
In this worksheet, students write the name of the note inside each note. You can also have them draw lines to the corresponding piano keys if you have time. It can even be inserted into their binder as a handy guide.
Typically, piano students are taught the notes on the treble staff and the bass staff. But many times students don’t realize the logical continuity of the grand staff. We know the grand staff is more than two separate entities, one for right hand and one for left. However, there is just so much to teach in so little time that it is easy to have short cuts to learning concepts in order to get everything covered. If you have ever had students who need to see the overall picture of the grand staff, this little work sheet might help. It shows clearly how the music alphabet continues from bass to treble staff.
Elizabeth Gutierrez suggests using A C E to learn the grand staff. My students find A C E easier than some other ways. It also helps them to learn the inner ledger lines. So I have students circle all the ACE’s on the grand staff. There is no reason you can’t use guide notes, A C E or FACE, or Every Good Boy Does Fine, or whatever you find successful with a particular student.
Learning note names will not necessarily make students good sight readers. Different parts of the brain are used to identify notes than to actually sight-read notes at the piano. However, learning notes will help our students become overall better musicians. Learning note names can be difficult for some students, but we have to keep trying!
Here is a little tidbit for your students. The phrase GRAND STAFF starts with G and ends with F. How is that for a coincidence!
Lady Bug Game Board
LadyBug Game Cards
This is one of my favorite games. It’s fast and fun and I think it’s a good game to play this time of year. I’ve revised it and remade the keyboard cards.
- I suggest printing the colorful game board on photo paper and then laminating it so the colors really come to life. It can also be taken to an office shop. MTNA members, use Office Depot/Max and receive a big discount.
- Before you print the cards, decide which pages you want to use. Please don’t print all the pages at once because the last page is the optional backs.
- Print on card stock. They do not have to be laminated.
- There are 5 pages of cards.
- Pages 1-3 are notes on the staff.
- Page 4 has keyboard cards.
- Page 5 is the optional back of the cards. After printing the cards on pages 1-4, insert the pages back into your printer to print the back of the cards. Please see my FAQ for a tutorial on how to do this.
- This game can be played with students or teacher and student.
- Each player has a token.
- The cards are placed face down next to the game board.
- The first player draws a card and moves their token forward along the path to the closest letter that matches the note on their card.
- The next player draws and moves in the same way.
- The game is over when someone draws a card that takes them to the last G or any note after the last G at the end of the path.
- There are many games you can play with this game board. Use your own ideas and I hope you have fun!
- To learn the music alphabet.
- To learn to recognize notes on the grand staff or keys on a piano keyboard.
- To reinforce learning steps and skips.
- Early childhood and elementary ages.
Why I like this game
- It’s fast, under 3 minutes, students always like it.
- Children learn faster if they are having fun.
- It’s a great game for beginners to learn piano key names.
- The game is so fast, you can play more than once.
Autumn Acorn ACE
The popular composer and piano pedagogy teacher Elizabeth Gutierrez suggested in her Piano Camp for Piano Teachers workshop a few years ago that learning the notes A C E on the staff is one of the easier ways for beginners to learn note names. So I don’t want to take credit for this idea, although it is a good one! Instead of having to remember a lot of acronyms and guide notes, students just learn where ACE is located on the grand staff. As a bonus, they learn skips, too, and the student can play the ACE position on the piano as they learn the notes. After learning A C E, they can branch off and learn the notes above and below. Line notes are hard, but it is easier if you always know where A C and E are!
I just want to mention that in my experience, no matter how well a student knows the names of notes, that does not ensure he or she will be a good sight reader. I think we all have students who get A’s on theory tests and are very zippy with flash cards, but not so good sight reading music at the piano bench. So many people don’t seem to realize that the two are very different skills that use different part of the brain. And everyone’s brain is wired differently. A student does not have to be a good sight reader to be a good musician, although it is a wonderful skill.
If learning the names of notes confidently doesn’t always mean the student is going to be able to read music well at the piano, why bother? Here are some reasons, and you probably have some you can add to the list!
- It gives students confidence that they are musicians.
- It helps students jump around to different notes on the piano.
- Even if students can’t sight read that well, they can work through the music in their own comfort zone at home.
- They can learn music theory, which is rather impossible if you don’t know what the notes are!
- They can compose and write their music on staff paper.
Autumn Rhythms Tic Tac Toe
Today I am posting a seasonal game to review note values such as dotted quarter notes and eighth notes. I included stems going up and down to help students become familiar with that.
This game is played like Tic Tac Toe using bingo chips. It is for two players, but it is easily modified for more students and played like Bingo.
Regular readers will notice this is similar to the Bats and Cats Rhythm Game. However, I remade the small cards to include more patterns and I changed the levels some. Now I need a year round theme so I’m taking suggestions!
There are two levels included. The second level is a great game to reinforce dotted quarter notes. Some children don’t know how to add fractions, so adding 1 1/2 + 1/2 is too much for them. Of course we all have those students who seem to understand anything related to math without the teacher having to explain it! They like this game, too.
There are 5 pages in this PDF document: a game board, 2 levels of cards to cut out, and the backs for each level.
I advise printing the backs to the small cards to help you quickly distinguish the levels for fast set-up.
- To quickly add beats in rhythm patterns
- Bingo tokens, a different color for each player. [Suggestions for tokens include inexpensive colored erasers or pieces of cut out construction paper. Colored bingo chips are available online. ]
- One game board for two players. If playing in groups, 1 card for each player.
- Calling cards with the appropriate level for the student.
- Print the game board on card stock or photo paper and laminate, if desired.
- Print one page of the calling cards. Turn the page over and print the “back” of the calling cards. Check out my FAQ for hints on how to do it.
- Cut the calling cards along the dotted lines. Place in a stack face down.
- The calling cards contain notes and/or rests worth 1, 2, 3, or 4 beats (in 4/4 time.) The game board has squares with one note or rest worth 1, 2, 3. or 4 beats.
- Player one draws a calling cards and counts the notes/rest value. He places a bingo chip on a square with that note value.
- This is repeated by the second player, with a different colored bingo chip.
- Play continues in this manner until a player has a chip on 3 squares in a row in any direction, including diagonally, as if the players are playing Tic Tac Toe.
- An alternate way to play is to give each player a game board. Players take turns drawing a card and putting a bingo chip on the correct square. The object is to be the first player with all their squares covered.
- Note: If a player draws a card that has no note left with that rhythm value, he is not able to place a chip on the board and it becomes the next players turn.
Why I like it:
This is a simple game and it’s easy and fast to play. But it really works and you will see your students improve their ability to count rhythms and to quickly add them up. One teacher, Louise, who played the Halloween version, left this message a few years ago:
Thank you so much for this game, Susan. I have played it with my Grade 2 students and found that although they were hesitant at first, when adding up the dotted notes and the grouped semiquavers and quavers, after a couple of games they were seeing at a glance how many beats were in the groupings. Such a useful game. I may bring it out even when it isn’t Halloween!