Tag Archives: Note Identification

Autumn Acorns A C E

 

AutumnAcornsACE

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.

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Filed under Halloween and Autumn, Note Identification, Steps and Skips, Worksheets

Animal Alphabet Songs

AnimalAlphabetSongs

7 Alphabet Animal Songs

I tried to make it easy for everyone by creating one PDF document for all 7 of these songs. But for some reason, no matter how I tried, the links were not correct. So I am starting all over with new links. If this doesn’t work, I will have to come up with another cunning plan. 🙂

You have permission to use these with your students. They may not be sold, the files may not be shared, and they may not be posted on other websites. You are welcome to share a link back to this page. Hot linking the PDF is not allowed. The music, lyrics, and art are my original creations.

When I first published these songs in 2013, each one was a separate blog post. I discussed the creative process in writing them and how very, very difficult it is writing a song with just one or two notes. That is why I composed duets for each one.  They make the music a lot more interesting for student and teacher.

I think students do better at reading in the long run if they learn from the very beginning that middle C is not always going to be a thumb. I know not everyone agrees with this, so please feel free to put whatever finger numbers suit your fancy. In some of the songs, I left the fingering off so that you can do just that.

These pieces are supposed to be like nursery rhymes. The lyrics help with the rhythm and make the songs more fun. Please encourage your students to sing or at least chant along!

Below are links (hopefully!) t0 the original blog posts for each individual song. I had so much fun writing these songs and using them with my youngest students. That is why I enjoy sharing them with you. Do your students have a favorite? I would love to know which one! Even better, I would love to see a video of your student singing and playing!

Alligator, Alligator, All You Play is A

B is for the Baseball Bear

Pat the Cat’s Patting Song

E is for Elephant

The Doughnut Mystery: It’s D Day

Frogs Wearing Flip Flops

G Is For Giraffe

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Elementary Music, Note Identification, Preschool Music Resources

The Doughnut Mystery: It’s “D” Day!

The Doughnut Mystery

The Doughnut Mystery

[Ed. All seven Animal Alphabets songs can be found here. AlphabetAnimalSongsBundle]

I decided to make a series of songs, worksheets, and games focusing on one note at a time. Today I am posting The Doughnut Mystery, D for dog and D for doughnut. If you have ever played a one note song, I must mention that it is a lot more fun with the duet. At least that is what one of my intermediate students said, who saw it in my studio and wanted to try it out. (Actually he said it was a boring song, but the duet made it fun, so I took that for a compliment!) Fortunately, younger students are not as hard to please.

If we teach young children, we know that some students need to take the scenic route when learning to read notes on the staff. It is so satisfying to see the feeling of accomplishment on their face, rather than frustration.

If you have followed my blog for a while, you probably know that I do not teach reading by “typing in” the names of each note. I don’t ask my students to say note names out loud as they play music from their books. That takes all the joy out of playing piano and made my own children cry. I learned so much about teaching piano from my own children.

Instead, we learn to read music by intervals. Cards like the ones I posted recently really help to learn to play by steps and skips. I’m reposting them below, and on my website you can find some older ones that are larger and not as fancy. I was worried that these cards would confuse students who are also learning to read notes on the staff, but that has not happened to my students.

Notey NoteheadsNotey Noteheads

Prereading step and skip flashcards

Pre-reading Cards

With that disclaimer, I do think children should learn the names of notes, because how can they learn theory if they don’t know the names of notes? Plus, students need the confidence to move around the keyboard, or to find the starting note. Learning to read music has three parts: learning to sight-read by intervals and patterns to the best of the student’s ability, learning to quickly identify all the notes on the staff, and knowing where these notes are on the instrument.

How I Introduced D

After I showed the student middle D on the staff, I placed large size flash cards around the room. Some of them were D, and he searched all around the room and collected them. Next, we got out the big floor staff and played games. Then, we drew D’s on a large staff (to the best of his ability). We also identified D’s in a method book. I also made a new game to find D, and we played that.

Finally, I decided we were ready to play middle D on the piano. He was so excited! First we learned the words to The Doughnut Mystery and “drummed” and chanted them on the piano cover. Then we practiced changing fingers on the piano cover, making doughnuts with the fingers. After he could play it by himself, I played the teacher duet, and it was perfect! He loved it!

To reinforce reading by intervals, I followed that up with some of the pre-reading cards posted above.

The next week he came back and told me the D note fell off, that’s why it’s on the bottom and the dog ate it. That let me know that he has internalized the location of D on the staff.

If you teach 4-6 year old children or have a learning challenged student, you might want to try this out!

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Filed under Note Identification, Pre-reading, Preschool Music Resources, Steps and Skips

Pat the Cat’s Patting Song

Pat the Cat

Pat The Cat

[Ed: All 7 Animal Alphabet songs can be found here. AlphabetAnimalSongsBundle]

This is the first set in a group of 7 songs to teach beginners the notes around middle C.  I have a little pre-school student who loves it, so I thought I would share. My little student is so excited to be reading “notes on the staff”. I am using a lot of supplementary music to help him remember each guide note before we move on.

If you have a young child to use this with, just have fun with it. Don’t worry about keeping a steady beat, because my student can not do the motions and keep the beat. If you like to teach pre-school children, you will probably figure out ways to use this that will make your little one laugh and have fun!  But because I can’t help it, here are a few ideas: 

  • It can be used with a small group around the piano, letting students take turns playing. 
  • The student can play the notes on a xylophone, while others do the motions.
  • The student can “help” you make up words to the notes.
  • The student can play and the teacher can do the motions, then reverse the process. 
  • Ask the student to teach the motions to his Mom or Dad. 

 

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Filed under Elementary Music, Note Identification, Preschool Music Resources