Learn Your Notes in Six Easy Steps

All musicians start by learning to read music. Just as we learn to read by learning the alphabet, we learn to read music by learning the notes. But the lines and dots on a musical score can intimidate the beginner musician. To alleviate that stress, here are six easy steps to learn your notes.

Step 1: The Grand Staff

The Grand Staff consists of two sets of lines and spaces with corresponding signs. The upper sign is called the Treble Clef. The lower sign is the Bass Clef. 

Notes sit on the lines and in the spaces in each Clef. 

Let’s look at the Treble Clef in more detail in Step 2. 

Step 2: The Treble Clef and Notes 

The Treble Clef has 5 lines and 4 spaces. Each line and space holds a specific note. 

The notes on the 4 spaces are F, A, C, & E.

The notes on the 5 lines are E, G, B, D, & F.

Always read the notes, whether on lines or in spaces, from the bottom to the top of the staff. 

Notice that the space notes spell “FACE”. To help you memorize the line notes, make up a phrase such as, “Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge.” 

Let’s look at the notes on the Bass Clef. 

Step 3: The Bass Clef and Notes 

The Bass Clef also contains 5 lines and 4 spaces, with each holding a specific note.

The notes on the 4 spaces are A, C, E, & G.

The notes on the 5 lines are G, B, D, F, & A.

As with the Treble Clef, whether on lines or in spaces, from the bottom to the top of the staff. 

A memorization tool for the Bass lines could be, “Good Boys Deserve Fudge Always,” and “All Chickens Eat Greens,” for the Bass spaces. Find a phrase that speaks to you. 

In Step 4 we put the Treble and Bass Clefs together on the Grand Staff. 

Step 4: The Grand View of All Notes in the Treble and Bass Clefs

Here are all the notes, on the lines and spaces, in the Treble and Bass Clefs. Read the notes over many times and use your memorization tools to learn the notes. Try looking away from the Clefs and naming the line or space notes. Do this every day until you know the notes. 

But what about notes on the lines outside of the Grand Staff? They are ledger lines and we review them in Step 5. 

Step 5: Ledger Lines 

Ledger lines are added for notes landing outside the Grand Staff. They are in the Treble and Bass Clefs but only appear if a piece has notes above or below the Grand Staff. 

A common note on a ledger line, especially for piano players, is Middle C. 

Step 6: The First Ledger Line Note – Middle C

Middle C is found between the Treble and Bass Clefs.

The next note above Middle C, moving up to the Treble Clef, is D. Then you reach E, the first line note in the Treble Clef. 

Below Middle C, moving down to the Bass Clef, is B. Then you meet A, the top line note for the Bass Clef. 

You’ll encounter more ledger notes as you continue your musical studies. 

When you meet a ledger note you don’t know, find an “anchor” note – or the nearest note you do know, and count up or down until you reach the ledger note. 

Two Extra Tips: 

1. When playing a note on your favourite instrument, identify whether the note is on a line or in a space to reinforce that information in your head. 

2. Remember to learn your notes from the bottom line or space to the top of the staff. 

If you’re ready to learn notes, and tap into your musical talent, visit the Brady Arts Academy website. We offer courses in vocal and musical training. 

Written by: Nicole Holas

Ten Tips For Adults Learning to Play Music, Part 2

You are never too old, or too young, to learn how to play your favourite instrument. In this week’s blog we continue with our ten tips to help adults learn music. 

6. Record Yourself

Record yourself when you practice and then listen to the recording. You’ll notice tempo changes, finger flubs, and places where your phrasing needs improvement. Focus on these details in your future practices. Discuss your findings with your teacher. 

7. Listen to Lots of Music

The best musicians are surrounded by music. Play music as you cook dinner, commute to work, or clean your house. Play music similar to the pieces you’re learning. If you’re practicing a Mozart sonata, listen to another Mozart sonata, a symphony, or some chamber music. Also listen to different recordings of the piece you’re practicing. The variety of interpretations is incredible. Finally, listen to composers from the same time period. These tips are the best way to absorb the various sounds of music.

8. Study Music Theory & History

Studying music theory makes it easier to learn the melodies and chords of a piece. You’ll also notice similar musical structures as you learn more pieces. Music history will help you interpret pieces from different time periods and show you the changing philosophies behind making music. Studying music theory and history will make you a more rounded music student. 

9. Perform for Other People

This might sound frightening but take every opportunity to perform for others. The pressure you feel will show you how well you know the piece. You’ll also learn it’s okay not to be perfect. Acknowledging mistakes makes you a better performer because you learn how to play through your mistakes. The more you perform, the more comfortable you’ll feel, and your playing will improve. 

10. Be Patient

Learning a new skill takes time. Practice can be challenging and frustrating. You will make mistakes. Slow down, take a deep breathe, and try again. Or take a day off and start fresh. Be patient. You’ll learn the piece in time. 

If you’re ready to learn to play a musical instrument, contact the Brady Arts Academy today. We offer courses in piano, guitar, drums, trumpet, trombone and saxophone. Visit our website today.

Written by: Nicole Holas

Ten Tips For Adults Learning to Play Music

Learning music is a fun and healthy pastime. It offers numerous benefits including improved memory and muscle coordination. If you didn’t learn to play an instrument as a child, it’s never too late to start. 

In the next two blogs, we share ten tips to help you start learning music as an adult. 

1. Choose Music You Like – It is easier to play music that you enjoy because it keeps you motivated to practice. Pick an instrument you’ll enjoy playing. If you love the sound of a clarinet, or always wanted to play the piano, don’t take drum lessons. 

Also pick an instrument that fits your lifestyle. If you’re constantly on the move, pick a portable instrument like a violin or a saxophone. If you live with others, or in an apartment with thin walls, consider a digital piano with an adjustable volume. 

2. Set Goals – Setting realistic goals keeps you focused and helps track your progress. Consider why you want to play music, what pieces you want to play, and how much time you want to spend practicing. 

Make SMART Goals – SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound. 

For example, “I want to learn to play the first four chords of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata in the next two months because I want to play it for my sister.” 

3. Practice Consistently – Create a practice schedule with regular, timed sessions. Start with 30 minute sessions. If they are too long, consider a few 10 to 12 minute sessions throughout your days. Music practice is a great way to destress before tackling your next challenge. Also be flexible. Sometimes other tasks are more important than practice. 

4. Practice Sections or “Chunks” – Learn shorter sections of music, or chunks, to make practice easier. The music is easier to absorb and stays with you longer. Start with one measure and then move on to the next. Continue until you learn the entire piece. 

5. Use a Metronome – Use a metronome every time you practice. Set the metronome to a slower speed and master the finger and timing before increasing the speed until you’re at tempo. Practising with a metronome will also help you play with other musicians. 

We’ll list the remaining five tips in our next blog. If you’re ready to learn how to play music, consider the Brady Arts Academy’s courses in piano, guitar, drums, trumpet, trombone and saxophone. Visit our website today. 

Written by: Nicole Holas

How to Overcome Performance Anxiety

Performance Anxiety is Common 

All musicians experience performance anxiety at some point in their career. It is common to feel anxious before or during a performance. 

In today’s blog, we discuss a few techniques to help you get centred when experiencing performance anxiety.  

1. Practice, Practice, Practice 

The first step to overcome performance anxiety is to practice. Feel confident that you are fully prepared for your performance. You practiced your pieces and you know the tricky movements. You’re ready to take the stage and give your best performance. 

2. Recognize the Symptoms of Performance Anxiety 

There are physical and psychological symptoms associated with performance anxiety. 

You might feel “butterflies in your stomach,” shallow, rapid breathing, or tense muscles. Or you might experience racing thoughts, or an inability to focus and concentrate. 

Consider learning mindfulness techniques. Mindfulness is the ability to know what you are thinking or feeling at any given moment. Learn to scan your body and identify when you’re feeling confident and relaxed or when you’re anxious.

Ask yourself, “What am I thinking at this moment?” “How am I feeling right now?” and put your emotions into words. By practicing mindfulness techniques, you will be more focused and centred. You can use these techniques anytime you are anxious. 

3. Stop and Take a Breath 

Deep, slow, rhythmic breathing is the easiest way to overcome performance anxiety. Before every performance, or anytime you’re feeling rushed and out of control, take a few moments to breathe. Inhale through your nose, and exhale through your mouth. When exhaling, try to push your belly button towards your spine. This empties your lungs and helps you take a full breath. 

Deep breathing slows your heart rate, increases your blood oxygen levels, and relaxes your muscles. This also relaxes your mental state. 

Consider making deep breathing part of every practice and pre-performance ritual. 

It Is This Simple 

These techniques can help you relieve your performance anxiety. If they are not working, or you’re experiencing severe symptoms, consider speaking to your doctor or health care professional. 


Remember these tips the next time you’re feeling anxious before or during a performance:

  • Practice. Master your pieces to the best of your ability
  • Tell yourself you are fully prepared for your performance 
  • Learn to recognize the symptoms and feelings of anxiety
  • Practice deep breathing to relax mentally and physically

Contact Brady Arts Academy today to discuss your musical education. Our dedicated instructors can help you perfect your musical abilities. 

Written by: Nicole Holas