Teaching treble clef note names can be FUN for teachers and students. Take a peek at the lessons, activities, tips, ideas, and FREE download.
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I’m 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 isn’t among your favorite things to teach, or even if it is, take a peek at the ideas, activities, and tips below. You may discover some new techniques or a fresh new activity to incorporate into your lesson plans.
Let’s get started!
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Tips for Teaching Treble Clef Note Names
1. Identify Notes AROUND Lines and IN Spaces
Before teaching treble clef note names, be sure your students can identify notes around lines and notes in spaces. I picked up this simple 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 AROUND lines and notes IN spaces is VERY effective and I highly recommend it. But it does take a little while to get used to saying and presenting it this way. So I embedded the directions into my PowerPoint lessons. This helps me to deliver a consistent lesson using the same terminology every time.
2. Scaffold Learning – Introduce Spaces and Lines Separately
Our elementary music curriculum introduces treble clef note names in third grade. To optimize students’ note reading skills, I prioritize teaching these lessons at the beginning of the school year. At the same time, I take the opportunity to review and expand treble clef note recognition with fourth and fifth graders.
To ensure a solid understanding, start with only notes in spaces. This allows students time to “cement” that concept before learning more notes on the staff. Allow at least two class sessions to practice space notes while observing students for comprehension. Then on the third class session, if your students are ready, introduce notes around lines.
3. Mnemonic Devices
There are many different ways to help students remember treble clef note names, but I believe the old standards are still the best. The acronym FACE works well 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 the mnemonic devices or tricks to remember the note names. A simple reminder of “FACE rhymes with SPACE” and “LINE rhymes with FINE” clears up any confusion.
4. Begin with Basic Note Names
Begin with the basic notes of the staff. Give students ample time to master these notes before learning notes above and below the staff. Our curriculum introduces treble clef note names in the following sequence.
- Grade 3 – Basic Treble Clef Note Names (on the staff)
- Grade 4 – Extended Treble Clef Note Names (above and below the staff)
- Grade 5 – Extended Treble Clef and Bass Clef Note Names
5. 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 to EVERY question and be actively involved by using sign language.
- Instruct all students to “hide their answer hand where no one will see it.” (Usually under their shirt is a good spot.)
- Display a note on your classroom whiteboard or use a large print flashcard that everyone can see.
- Allow a few seconds of think time.
- Give the prompt for all students to “show your answers” at the same time.
ALL students should show their answers in sign language as quickly as they can. This ensures that all students are engaged and giving their own answers and not copying their neighbor’s answers.
Take a peek at this blog post for more Tips to Involve All Students All the Time.
6. Introduce the 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 recognize the FACE and Every Good Boy patterns they were initially taught. Circle the space and line notes in different colors to demonstrate that those patterns are still present.
7. Keep Practice Novel and Fresh and Provide Immediate Feedback
Finding new and novel ways to practice note names keeps practice fresh and motivates students. And, providing immediate feedback is essential. Download this FREE Self-Checking PowerPoint Game to use in your classroom. These games may be used for centers or stations, whole class, individual, or homeschool practice. These self-checking activities are perfect for sub lessons.
Click below to see more.
Interactive PowerPoint Games
Save over 20% when you invest in the Complete Treble Clef Note Name Bundle which includes 6 sets scaffolded for student success.
Important Note: These are Interactive PowerPoint Games. You MUST have PowerPoint to use these resources as intended. These activities are NOT fully compatible with Google Slides. The functionality of Google Slides has not yet caught up with PowerPoint.
Interactive Treble Clef Note Names Boom Cards
The same sequential series is 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 the notes appear in a different order every time students practice.
If you haven’t had the chance to explore Boom Cards, you’re missing out on a valuable resource! Not only are they fun and motivating for students, but they can also be used as assessments.
Take a peek at this blog post for more on using Boom Cards in the Music Classroom.
8. Perform Treble Clef Note Names on Xylophone
Playing xylophones or other barred instruments is 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 performance activities.
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 treble clef pitches.
- “Air play” above the xylophone bars while students sing the pitches.
- Sing the note names while students play.
- Think the note names while students play.
Do NOT skip the air play step. This step helps students be much more confident and successful.
Conclusion – Teaching and Learning Treble Clef Note Names is FUN!
If teaching treble clef note names isn’t among your favorite lessons, try some of the ideas and activities presented here and enjoy the process. Life is too short not to enjoy every minute.
Treble Clef Storybooks
A couple of fun books to help build your elementary music classroom library. Enjoy!
Meet the Author
Terri Lloyd is a former elementary music teacher with over 25 years of experience. She holds a Bachelor of Music, a Master of Science in Education, and a Technology Certificate in Instructional Design.
She is currently active in music education through blogging, workshops, and curriculum development. She serves on the music staff at her church and volunteers for an after-school children’s program. Terri is an active musician in the community, performing in a local Big Band, pit orchestras, and various events.