The Musical Alphabet
We all know that children prepare to read by learning the alphabet. Did you know that piano students prepare to read music by first learning the musical alphabet? It’s true! Of course, there are some differences. For example, the musical alphabet contains just seven letters: A, B, C, D, E, F, G. Why so few? Music needs only seven letters to name the seven tones in a scale. When you get to G, you start over and begin a new octave with A.
Gaining a real comprehension of how the musical alphabet works underlies many music skills like staff reading and understanding chords and key signatures. Start your music studies with a good foundation by learning the musical alphabet.
Why is the Musical Alphabet Important?
The musical alphabet connects the notes on a page of sheet music with the notes on the keyboard. If you know the musical alphabet, you can read music much more easily. Piano students should be able to say the musical alphabet forward or backward, starting on any letter. For example, the musical alphabet forward starting on C is C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C. Backward starting on C is B, A, G, F, E, D, C.
When a music student knows how to say the musical alphabet forward and backward, in both steps and skips, starting on any letter, then they can identify any note written on a musical staff. An easy note to find on the treble staff is G because the treble clef sign was designed to mark the line that corresponds to the note letter G. If you know the position of that one note, G, and know the musical alphabet well, you can easily name the other notes on the treble staff. How? By stepping or skipping up and down the musical alphabet.