Reading music and using flash cards

Being able to read music is fundamental to being able to play an instrument. But how do we turn this tedious task into a fun game?

To this very day, I still remember my first lessons. Starting first on the violin, I learnt how to read the treble clef. When I started the piano a year later, I had to learn the bass clef. I had no trouble learning the treble clef, but the bass clef was the difficult one. Being dyslexic, I had to find my own way to learn it otherwise I would not be able to play my pieces. So the struggle began…..

If we look at the piano, there are 88 individual keys. Sadly this does not mean there are only 88 note names to learn. At basic level, we have either 1 or 2 different names for every note. If we take the middle of the three consecutive black keys, it can be called either G# ( # is called ‘sharp’ not hash tag), or Ab (b is called a ‘flat’ not a ‘b’). Since there are 5 black keys on the piano, that gives us 10 possible names (F#, G#, A#, Gb, Ab & Bb). We then have a the white keys, of which are are 7 (A, B, C, D, E, F, & G). Making a total of 17 names per octave. An octave is one set of key patterns, which are repeated 7 times on most standard piano keyboards. This makes a total of 117 different notes, wow!

Now that I am a teacher, I realise that my struggles could have been more easily avoided and I could have had more enjoyable times in my piano lessons. What would have help me to learn all these notes? Flashcards.

How to Flashcards help?

There are several options on how to use them:

  1. We can give the name of the note
  2. We can find the note on the piano and play it
  3. We can combine both steps 1 & 2, with the emphasis on always giving the correct answer
  4. Now for the fun, add a timer. Can you do 20 flashcards in less than 60 seconds?

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