Note Reading 101- Memorizing Note Names

Some pianists find reading easiest if they simply memorize all the names of the notes on the staff. My student Jason, who taught himself to play as an adult, did this. He can tell you in a flash the name of the note on the bass clef third space, or the treble clef fourth line. Maybe this is the best approach for many musicians.


When I homeschooled my four children and wanted them to learn all the states and capitals, I purchased a set of cards with clever drawings. The idea was to look at each drawing for visual cues: a great idea, but not always helpful. The worst example in the set was a bizarre picture with the caption, “Does the hairy bug with the [something or other] pain ya?” That was supposed to trigger a response of “Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.” Whoa.


After a couple of days of struggling with the confusing cards, it’s no wonder my daughter Lisa asked, “Mom, can we have a half hour or so to just memorize the states and capitals?”


Sometimes, maybe that’s the best approach to learning note names, too.