First Music Theory Lesson Plan: Note Naming Worksheets
This Music Note Naming Lesson Plan is designed as a very first music theory lesson. Although other material on this site is concerned with lesson plans and resources themed around topic areas such as developing an understanding of whole and half step intervals and the construction of all major scales (not just the “simple” ones?) it cannot be stressed enough that if our students do not fully understand the principles that lie behind the “correct” naming of musical notes then they will perpetually struggle with all other aspects of music theory.
This note naming music lesson plan is delibarately designed so as not to use any musical notation at all. The rationale behind this is simply that it makes very little sense to try to teach someone something that they don’t yet understand (the names assigned to individual pitches) using a language (musical notation) that they do not (yet) speak?
Once students are comfortable with note names and basic intevals it becomes relatively easy to then introduce standard notation if required?
The ability to name musical notes is one of the absolute building blocks of music theory. If our students fail to develop the ability to identify notes correctly then they can never independantly construct a major scale?
If they dont know how a major scale is constructed they will be unable to fully understand chords and harmony?
The objectives of this session (or group of sessions) is to ensure that our students will be able to……….
1: Know how to identify any note on the piano keyboard with the aid of a reference diagram
2: Know how to identify any note on the piano keyboard without the aid of a reference diagram
Too often this stage is passed over when teaching music theory and as a result every other element (such as creating scales or chords) becomes much more difficult for students to learn (and much more complicated for us as music educators to teach?)
The problem is that in our haste to get onto the “good stuff” we can gloss over something that (to us) seems very simple and that is the names of musical notes and where they can be found on a graphic representation of a standard keyboard.
Without being able to relate to this material in a visual way this information is, to a novice horribly complicated. Think about it? As far as a complete beginner to music theory is concerned the (somewhat confusing?) “rules ” are as follows…..
There are eleven musical notes.
Some of those notes are named after the first seven letters of the alphabet.
Some of them have a choice of two names based on variants of (only some) of those letters and must be labelled correctly according to some other rules that you have not studied and therefore do not understand yet?
Looked at from that perspective it is perhaps little wonder that we come up against so many students who (although they love music and can be very technically adept on the instruments that they play) just “don’t get” music theory and come to believe that knowledge of it is not relevant to them as players, composers and performers. There is a danger that some of our students come to regard music theory as an obstacle to be negotiated rather than as a tool to be used to make them more capable?
The material that follows is designed to help make our students “familiar with” (rather than just “aware of” the names of musical notes along with their physical location on a piano keyboard and is intended as a first music theory lesson.
Music Lesson Plan
1:Distribute the handout (featured at the top of this article) that features nothing more than a large graphic representation of a piano keyboard through two octaves.
2:Spend some time talking to the student group about the diagram during which you should stress that the material is not aimed at people who play keyboards but is designed so as to allow anyone to understand how the harmonic and melodic elements of music theory work.
Make them aware of the way that the white notes follow the strict alphabetic sequence
Talk to them about the fact that the black notes can be given one of two names depending on the circumstances and assure them that you will help them to be able to determine the correct name for black notes as a situation demands in subsequent music theory lessons
Distribute the “note naming worksheet 1″ which features keyboard diagrams with lines running from individual (natural-white) notes to circles in which students are invited to write the name of the notes indicated.
Follow this link to view an enlarged version of one of the note naming handouts that accompany this lesson plan
When students have completed worksheet 1 introduce “worksheet 2″ which includes tasks geared around the # and b notes to be found on the black piano keys
Students will again be able to refer to the handout featuring the large piano keyboard and should not experience a great deal of difficulty when providing the correct name (or names) for each given note?
Following on from this ask them to repeat the exercise (using other copies of the same worksheets) but without access to the note naming handout (which they should now place into their files for future reference).
As they are engaged in this task remind them of three “rules” that they may find helpful?
Rule # 1: The note of C can be found on the white note to the left of any group of two black notes
Rule # 2: The white notes (going left to right) follow the alphabetic sequence
Rule # 3 The black notes can have one of two names depending on the circumstances (explain to your students that at the moment they have not covered those circumstances and that at this stage it is enough to know both of the note names that could be assigned to each black key)
Next introduce the music worksheet (part of which is shown below) which feature piano keyboard diagrams with a number of circles in which your students can name the correct musical note (or notes). You might like to help your students to identify the notes required by letting them know where the note of C can be located on the chart but by this stage it is probably a good idea to make sure that they do not rely on the handout given outr at the very start of the session which gave the correct names for all of the notes. It is very important that the knowledge “does not stay on the handouts” and that instead your students are encouraged to become independantly able to identify any note?
By the end of the session your students should feel a lot more confident about the concept of assigning a name (or names) to a musical note and should be ready for the next step which involves them in the study of whole and half step intervals
Click This Text to Download A Free Powerpoint Presentation using the questions on Note Naming Worksheet no 1 For your Classroom
The above material is intended to be covered before embarking on ………………..
“Ten Steps To Understanding
Scales and Chords”
Below is a graphic that sets out to detail a scheme of work designed to take a student who has no knowledge of music theory whatsoever to a situation in which they come to fully understand the construction of all major and minor scales and triads as well as the chords that can be created from any major scale. Tour the site for help with music lesson plans or you can read more in our post “Ten Steps To Understanding Scales And Chords”
DOWNLOAD 300+ Music Theory Worksheets NOW!
A lifetime of printable and copyable classroom resources for a single one off payment of only $18.00
How to access your simple “one click” download
Buy your music teaching resources in complete safety via any major credit card (through paypal) or directly through your paypal account if you have one. If you choose to use a credit card, rest assured that we never see your credit card details as paypal do all of that for us.
When Paypal receive your payment you will be immediately invited to click a
“RETURN TO MERCHANT”button.
You will be taken to a page from where you can download the products that you have paid for NOW!
In the (rare) event that something should go wrong with the order/download process just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I will check the order and send you the links that will get you to your stuff.