I am not sure how many music teachers would consider teaching treble clef note names as some of their favorite elementary music lessons, but I do! There are so many FUN ways to learn and practice.
If teaching note names is not one of your favorite things to teach, or even if it is, check out the ideas below. You might just find another fun activity to add to your lessons. Let’s get started!
Tips for Teaching Treble Clef Note Names
Identify Spaces & Lines
Before teaching treble clef note names, be sure your students can identify notes in spaces and notes around lines. I picked up this trick at one of our Missouri Music Educators state conferences. I believe it was Artie Almeida that recommended using this terminology.
When children are taught to write words on a line it looks very different than music notes on a line. Consistently, using this terminology of notes in spaces and notes around lines is VERY effective and I highly recommend it. But, it takes a little while to get used to it. So, I embedded the directions into my PowerPoint lessons that I created to introduce note names. That helped me to deliver a consistent lesson every time.
Introduce Spaces & Lines Separately
Our curriculum introduces treble clef note names in third grade. So, I would always teach these lessons early in third grade to give us LOTS of experience reading throughout the year. At the same time, I would review and expand the treble clef note names with fourth and fifth grades.
Starting with only notes in spaces lets students “cement” that concept before moving on. Give students at least two class sessions to practice the notes in spaces. Then on the third class session, if your students are ready, introduce notes around lines.
There are lots of different ways to help students remember note names, but I believe the old standards are still the best. The acronym FACE works best for learning space notes because FACE rhymes with SPACE. Every Good Boy Does Fine works best for LINE notes because LINE rhymes with FINE.
When I initially introduce line notes, there are always a few students who mix up their mnemonic devices or tricks to remember the note names. A simple reminder, FACE rhymes with SPACE and LINE rhymes with FINE, clears up any confusion.
Begin with Basic Note Names
Begin with the basic notes of the staff. Give students LOTS of time to master these notes before learning notes above and below the staff. Our curriculum introduces the BASIC treble note names in third grade, the EXTENDED treble clef note names in fourth grade, and bass clef note names in fifth grade.
Teaching Treble Clef Note Names | Group Practice
When introducing and practicing treble clef note names in a large group setting, require ALL students to respond and be involved by using sign language. As you practice, have students hide their answer hand somewhere where no one will see it. Under their shirt is usually a good spot. Then when you say “show your answer”, students should show their answer as quick as they can, all at the same time. Be sure and give students a bit of “think time”.
Check out this blog post for more Tips to Involve All Students All the Time.
Introduce Ascending Scale
After students have mastered space and line notes, introduce the ascending scale. They are always amazed at the alphabetical pattern that reveals itself when we put the lines and spaces on the staff in an ascending scale-wise pattern.
At first, some students are baffled and they no longer see the FACE and Every Good Boy patterns that they were initially taught. Circle the space and line notes in different colors to demonstrate that those patterns are still present.
Practice, Practice, Practice
There are SO many fun ways to practice treble clef note names. Students can practice as a group, individually, or in centers. Students can even practice in a “flipped classroom” setting or at home via distance learning.
Click to preview a few of the practice options below. These activities make good sub lessons as well.
Treble Clef Boom Cards
The same sequential sets are available as Boom Cards. Boom Cards are also self-checking and give students immediate feedback. However, Boom Cards also “keep score” for students. These decks are set to randomize so they so up in a different order every time students practice.
If you haven’t tried Boom Cards you do not know what you are missing! They are so fun and they can be used for assessments as well. Check out this blog post for more on using Boom Cards in the Music Classroom.
Perform Treble Clef Note Names | Xylophone
Playing xylophones or other barred instruments makes the perfect pairing with learning treble clef note names. Having the note names labeled on the instrument helps students instantly connect reading treble clef note names with performing.
Start simple by reading and playing simple warmups and/or repetitive ostinato patterns. Use the following sequence to make sure students are actually reading and applying their new knowledge.
- Read the rhythm.
- Sing the pitches.
- “Air play” tapping above the xylophone bars while they sing the pitches.
- Sing & play.
- Think & play.
If you need Orff-style activities that lead teachers and students through this sequence, check out these fun and attainable performance activities.
Teaching Treble Clef Note Names
If teaching treble clef note names is not among your favorite lessons, check out some of the ideas listed here and I am sure it will become a favorite.