The Musical Alphabet
The Music Teacher
I am a teacher. Teachers give assignments. I am a father too. I teach my children. I give my students and children assignments.
So at the end of this short lesson and each of the following lessons, you will have an opportunity to test your knowledge and understanding of some basic and fundamental music theory ideas.
One time I gave them the following assignment as we were talking about building a music business on the way to school. I asked my oldest son Ezekiel and my middle daughter Jaylia to survey their friends and teachers with this question:
“What do you remember about your first lesson?” and “If you have never had a music lesson before, what would you want to learn during your first lesson?”
The response…overwhelmingly? notes. the notes. The people remember most that they learned the notes or they thought it might be best for them to learn the notes first.
Before we get into those ‘musical notes’, I want to cover something really important. If you would like to skip to the musical alphabet test, click the link. Otherwise, let’s talk a little about what music is. First. Before anything.
What is Music?
Music is a language. Music is a language of emotion and culture. Every emotion has a sound. Every culture has a sound.
Music is a language of written symbols. Think for a moment. If the English language is to be read by others, a system of written symbols must be available. The period. The question mark. The comma, The letter ‘R‘ or ‘S‘. Upper case. Lower case, etc…
It is the same with the language of music. If someone is to be able to read music, a written system of symbols must be available. Are you able to name any music symbols?
whole note? staff? note? rest? repeat sign? how about this one…..fermata!
Doesn’t that sound fun? FURRRRR MAHHH TAAAAAAAAAH
Like most languages, it could be said there are also many dialects or accents to this language of music. Depending on the style, mood, and culture, music can be expressed in a variety of different ways through the spectrum of emotion. Take a moment and think about one of your favorite songs. Why do you like the song?
I’m not sure about you, but it’s hard for me to think of my favorite song.
In all honesty, there are so many great, great, great songs I could list off (and I’m certain you could too)..and the list would change each day, week or month…right?
So, for this lesson, check out one of *the* basic building blocks to the written language of music: The Musical Alphabet!
Ready? simply read the following letters:
Did you start from the top and read down? Great. Now take a second and re-read starting from the bottom. This idea of going up and down is important in music …very important, and we will learn more about this later.
Begin with the End in Mind
We started with the letter ‘G’ because this is where the musical alphabet ends.
Visionaries ‘begin with the end in mind’, so let’s be visionaries today! Once we know the end we can begin with confidence. Right? Ready? A B C D E F G.
So, what comes after ‘G’?
If you said ‘H’, you are either (1) trying to be really funny or (2) or internationally credited (in Germany the Bb is still referred to as B, while the B is known as H…yep)
But in western cultures, there are no ‘H’s, no ‘I’s, no ‘J’s, etc. in the musical alphabet. Just ABCDEFG!
What comes after ‘G’? you start over with ‘A’ again (one octave higher), then ‘B’, then ‘C’…until you get to ‘G’. Then what? another ‘A’, then ‘B’, then ‘C’….and so on. So, how many letters are there in the Musical Alphabet?
Study the Diagram Below
Here is a great little exercise for you. Your goal should be to get 15/15 correct in one minutes time. 100%.
Before you start, study the diagram above. Do you see the ‘C’? Do you see the ‘D’?
This next question will be very important in helping you be able to identify any letter of the musical alphabet on any keyboard in the world. Notice that the ‘D’ is located between the TWO black key group. Is there a ‘D’ to be found anywhere between the THREE black key grouping?_____
Notice the ‘D’ is located between the TWO black key group. Do you see it?question: Is there a ‘D’ to be found anywhere between the THREE black key grouping?_____ (no)
The ‘D’ is found between the TWO black keys. Always.
Now its Test Time
Use this exercise to test your knowledge and understanding of the musical alphabet of the keyboard. Remember, your goal should be to get 15/15 correct in one minutes time. 100%. Click the image below to test your skills. 🙂
Get to Know the Basics of Music Theory
In all practical and common senses, these seven letters are used as a standard to represent certain pitches played on just about any musical instrument you can name and think of.