One of the most important parts of developing as a musician is being able to read music and being able to read it quickly. Memorizing the notes on the staff is an integral part of progressing musically and I’m going to share a few tips that will make this easier for you.
There are many ways people go about learning notes and the most popular seems to be the acronym approach. You’ve probably heard the one for the lines from the treble clef from bottom to top:
The spaces are pretty easy, they spell the word FACE (again bottom to top):
The bass clef lines are::
And the bass clef spaces are:
But what about the ledger lines once you go above or below the staff? You can see that this system breaks down very quickly. It gets incredibly complicated to refer to these acronyms on the spot; it’s just not practical.
Fortunately there is a much easier way to learn your notes without using acronyms. It involves simply learning the first seven letters of the alphabet:
If you can learn to say these letters frontwards and backwards quickly you are on your way to reading notes. That’s it! This applies to both the treble and the bass clef. You can start with middle C:
The reason for this is that middle C is in the middle between the treble and bass clefs. So, it’s easy to locate. From here you simply go either up or down through the alphabet. If you are counting up you simply go from C to D to E to F to G and when you reach G you simply go back to the first letter of the alphabet, A and start over again. The same applies for going down. Once you reach A you continue with the last letter of the musical alphabet, G and count down through the alphabet note by note. You only have to use seven letters and if you familiarize yourself with them you will no longer have any problems figuring out notes.
If you’re concerned about going backwards, memorize the low space A in the bass clef. That way it’s very easy to simply count up through the alphabet from there. If you keep practicing this and familiarize yourself with this technique you will find it much easier to read notes than using the acronym method.
Never resort to writing in your notes! I have a video explaining why you shouldn’t write your notes in the music and I suggest watching that if this is something you are tempted to do. If you keep with this method above you will have no need to write your notes in the score because soon enough you will be able to read music fluently.
Thanks again for joining me Robert Estrin Robert@LivingPianos.com (949) 244-3729
5 thoughts on “Learning Musical Notes on the Staff – Best Way to Memorize Notes”
Very helpful! Especially the “memorize the A in the bass clef and go up from there”
I learned to read music that way. But I later learned that in all probability, interval reading is superior. I do interval reading when I sing. But I have not been able to do it with the piano. Being able to name the notes is just the start of the battle. In the long run, I’m not all that sure how useful it is, although I am not one to judge, since I have no trouble naming the notes on a staff.
Playing by interval is great, as long as you have a starting note you know. That’s where knowing the names of the notes comes in handy!
I’ve learned the names of notes in the staff but notes way above or below the staff give me trouble, probably because I don’t run into them as often
You can always count up or down through the alphabet to figure them out. Eventually, you will come to recognize them. One helpful tip is that an octave is always from a line to a space, or a space to a line!