Grade Levels: K-3

This page provides information to support educators and families in teaching K-3 students about the musical alphabet. It is designed to complement the Musical Alphabet topic page on BrainPOP Jr.

Help get children excited about listening to and playing music. This movie will introduce the staff and identify notes in the treble and bass clefs. It will also provide a few mnemonics to help children remember the musical alphabet. We recommend watching the Musical Instruments and the Pitch, Tone, and Beat movies for review.

Show a piece of sheet music to children. You can find examples on the Internet, and some libraries have sheet music available. Remind children that music is written out in symbols. A musical note is a symbol that tells what note to play on an instrument. The musical notes go on a staff. The staff has five lines and four spaces between the lines. However, musical notes can go above or below the lines.

Each musical note has a name. If possible, show middle C on a staff and then show middle C on a piano or other instrument. You may want to play middle C on different instruments to allow children to compare and contrast the tones. Right above C, below the first ledger line, is D. You may want to play D on a piano to show that the note is to the right of C. The note on top of the first line is E, and the note in between the first two lines is F. If you play each note on a piano, children may notice how you are continually progressing one key to the right. The note on top of the second line is G. The note in between the second and third lines is not H, but rather A. The note on top of the third line is B. The note in between the third and fourth lines is C. You may wish to compare middle C with a higher C so children can hear the difference in pitch. As the notes go up the staff, the pitch gets higher and higher.

The names and positions of the notes can be confusing for some children. Encourage them to make up silly sentences to help them remember the names of the notes. “Every good boy does fine” is a mnemonic device that can help people remember the notes on top of the lines, starting from the bottom. The notes in the spaces, F, A, C, and E spell the word “face.” Encourage children to make up their own sentences.

Review with children that a clef is a symbol that tells about the pitch of a piece of music. Instruments such as the flute, recorder, trumpet, guitar, and violin play notes in the treble clef. Lower instruments, such as the trombone, sousaphone, cello, and bass guitar play notes in the bass clef. The bass clef is different from the treble clef because notes are in different positions on the staff. For example, the notes on top of the lines, starting from the bottom ledger line, are G, B, D, F, and A. You may want to employ a silly sentence to help children remember, such as “Good boys do fine always” or “Grizzly bears don’t fly airplanes.” Together the bass and treble clefs make a grand staff. A piano plays notes in the grand staff, where the left hand plays the lower notes, or notes in the bass clef, while the right hand plays the higher notes, or notes in the treble clef.

Encourage children to explore music and to practice, practice, practice. Reading music is a lot like learning how to read. It takes time and effort, but it’s a lot of fun!