It seems everyone has a theory on how best to teach piano students to recognize notes on the staff. Some teachers live and breathe mnemonics while other teachers loathe mnemonics. Some teachers drill with flashcards while other teachers find this practice old-fashioned and archaic.
The truth is… everyone is right and everyone is wrong.
When it comes to recognizing notes on the staff, there is no agreement on best teaching practice because there is no one right way. There simply can’t be! Different piano students learn to read notes on the staff in different ways. Furthermore, the same student may learn to read notes on the staff in different ways on different days.
So, to reiterate… there IS a right way to learn notes on the staff but the RIGHT way may be a different way on different days. Confused? 🙂
So, how does one go about teaching notes on the staff?
Trial and error… or success! While there is no single best way to teach notes on the staff, there is a BEST way for your piano students to learn notes on the staff.. and that is to have a multitude of varied experiences.
Here are 5 different ways to recognize one note
1. Verbal Note Learning
Some piano students love to talk and process language and therefore learn best through verbal and aural practices. This is where the menomics come in. Some teachers may hate the fact that “Spaces spell face”, or that “Green Bananas Don’t Feed Apes” but for some students it works. Try it!
2. Use Guide Notes
Guide notes won’t necessarily help your piano students recognize every single note, but they will help your students remember where a specific note is that may then help them step and skip their way there. For your logical thinkers, this technique will work wonders.
3. I’m Gonna Say It… Drill Those Flashcards
Some of your piano students are highly visual. By seeing repeated images of a note on a flashcard they will easily commit it to memory (much like kids learning to read who memorize sight words so they don’t have to spend all of their time sounding out “the”, “when”, and “look”).
4. Something For Those Kinaesthetic Learners
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that you probably have a few wiggly, jiggly piano students; you know, the ones who just have to move. These kids need to work with their hands, get up and move, and manipulate objects. Have these students draw the staff on a whiteboard and then, with round magnets in hand, create the notes you ask for. Or buy or make a floor staff and get them hopping!
5. The Social Butterfly
If you have a social butterfly in your piano studio, they are going to love to “talk” about Treble C, or any other note. To commit notes on the staff to memory, these students are going to want to talk about notes on the staff with their friends and family. Set up opportunities for these students to “teach” a younger sibling or parent about a set of notes. By doing so, these students will be committing their new knowledge to memory.
Rinse and Repeat
As mentioned earlier, none of these strategies will work all of the time. But each and every one of them will work some of the time. When teaching notes on the staff, be sure to try each of the different learning styles above with different students on different days.
I’ll bet you’ll discover that mixing it up will take the mundane out of note learning!
Is there A “Best” Way To Learn Theory?
Nope! But, like learning notes on the staff, there are many great ways to learn theory. And with our resource, Pssst… Your Piano Teacher Thinks This Is Theory, you’ll have an arsenal of theory teaching ideas (88 in fact) that are absolutely, positively, NOT BORING!