When students begin studying the piano, one of the things they need to learn quickly is what each note looks like and where it is placed in relation to the black keys. This stops them having to always count up from C.
There are many ways of remembering the note locations and I use different tactics depending on a student’s age. For example, the idea of a Dog “D” going in a kennel between each group of two black keys, is one I’ve used before with younger children. You can build on this with a Cat “C” sitting on the left and an Elephant “E” in the big gap between the two and three black keys. “F on the LEFT” is another saying to remember that F is on the left of the group of three black keys.
As an aside, the easy-notes learning system is a note-learning method that uses similar ideas when it comes to note reading, avoiding the usual mnemonic method – worth checking out if you’re looking for a different way to teach note reading.
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So what are my top three note-learning apps for students to use at home?
- Music Flash Class for iPhone (can also be used on iPad but will look small). Simple, effective and fun. I get all my beginner readers onto this app for 10 mins a day at home while they are learning the lines and spaces and note locations. Select which notes and which clef to quiz. Can also do just ledger lines which is very handy.
- In addition, Piano Notes Pro does the same thing but you can play the notes on your MIDI keyboard instead of on the iPhone screen – best practice app around for note learning. It can also quiz chord shapes and inversions and heaps more. For more tips on note learning apps, check out my best iPad apps for piano teachers page.
- Finally, check out Letter Dice on the app store for 99c. This is a random-letter generator: students enter the letters A-G into the app and it randomly picks ones for them to find on their own piano. Alternatively, those not using iPhones can try a free random letter generator like this one and away they go. 5 minutes a day for a week or two and they’ll hopefully never forget it again!
Got any other tips on teaching note locations or note reading? I look forward to your comments…