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

Music Education and Social-Emotional Learning

Our world is full of challenges. We worry about our health, our families, and money. 

Music education teaches leadership, self-expression, and creativity. Practising music is a rewarding, fulfilling pastime that builds self-confidence. Don’t make it into another worry. 

Incorporating Social Emotional Learning (SEL) into your musical education is one way to deal with your worries. SEL helps you become more self and socially-aware. Adding reflection from SEL to your practice time helps you make responsible decisions. 

SEL and Music 

You can develop SEL skills by: 

  • Setting your own musical goals.
  • Working out your problems individually or with your fellow band members if you play in a group. 
  • Examining your performance anxiety. What is holding you back from being your best?
  • Studying the history of music, especially how it affected social change

Your music will improve as your emotional awareness improves. Use these techniques to incorporate SEL into your music education. Discuss your answers with your music teacher:

  • “Fist to Five” — Use this technique to rate your late performance, measure, etc. Using one hand, make a fist to illustrate something that did work. Then use your fingers and thumb to illustrate five things you did perfectly. 
  • Emotional Vocabulary Building — Use an Emotions Wheel to find the correct expressive word to describe your emotions. Instead of using “fine” to describe your playing, say, “I feel confident.” A poster of facial expressions can help younger musicians describe their emotions. 
Photo Credit: Instagram
Photo Credit: pinterest.ca
  • SEL-Based Questions — Become more reflective about your motivation and self-awareness by asking yourself these questions during a music lesson or practice:
    • “What is my one musical goal this week?”
    • “What are my musical strengths and challenges?”
    • “How do I respond to constructive criticism?”

Music education helps us learn dedication, perseverance, and cooperation skills. SEL skills affect every aspect of our lives, both inside and outside of music. They help us confront our challenges with strength and skill. 

Contact the Brady Arts Academy today to discuss the benefits of music education.

Written by: Nicole Holas

How to Achieve Your Musical Dream

You are a dreamer with a musical fantasy. You are going to take a leap and aim high to achieve that goal. You’re ready to give it your all. 

But then someone says to you, “Get Real! You’ll never do it.” 

Maybe that person, is you? 

Dreams are powerful, but there is a barrier that stops us from achieving them. 

In today’s blog, we show you how to create your own musical fantasy by breaking through that barrier.  

Let’s begin by examining your musical fantasy and three reasons why it’s powerful. 

1. It defines our “true self” and ensures our efforts are aligned with our values.

2. It sets an ambitious target that brings out our best.

3. It motivates us! We approach our musical learning consistently and enthusiastically. 

But what is the barrier that keeps us from achieving our musical dreams? 

You might notice it in these examples from musicians: 

  • “I want to be able to play anything I hear! Actually, just managing a simple melody would be okay.”
  • “I want the ability to hold my own and create some interest in what I’m playing. Actually I’m not too bothered about creating the interest as long as the other stuff I’m doing reasonably well makes me happy.
  • “I want to learn to improvise. I don’t want to be a professional or anything

It’s simple. – We tend to downplay our dreams. We back off from our true goals and substitute an “okay” or “good enough” alternative. 

This is a natural and understandable reaction. We all do it. It may seem harmless, but it keeps us from achieving our goals. 

Two things cause this barrier: 

1. We are humble: Humility is admirable – we don’t want to boast too much about our own potential. But what if your humility is holding you back and stopping you from reaching your full capability? 

Set goals and aspirations purely for yourself, for your own guidance and motivation. Apply unlimited ambition to your goals without feeling guilty or ashamed about aiming high. This way, pride and humility won’t affect you. 

2. Our ego wants to protect us: We all have two voices in our heads – the optimistic, ambitious voice that encourages us to reach for the stars and shoot for our dreams – and the rational, conservative voice that says, “Don’t even think about it. That’s unrealistic.”

Don’t resent your rational voice because it’s trying to protect you. Adults fear failure, and our ego tries to keep us away from situations where we might fail. We need to risk failure to achieve our greatest potential. 

Tell your doubting voice, “Thanks for protecting me. I hear you, but I’m going to take a chance. The risk is small and I care more about the potential gain than a tiny amount of discomfort.” 

It takes courage to stand up and take a leap, but it’s also incredibly empowering, exciting, and impactful. The next time you’re defining a goal or envisioning your musical fantasy, acknowledge your pride and your rational voice. Then be honest about what you want and go for it.

When you’re ready to fulfill your musical dream, contact the Brady Arts Academy. Our instructors and programs will put you on the right track.

Written by: Nicole Holas

10 Ways to Practice Music in Your Daily Life, Part 2

Are you trying to find ways to fit music practice into your busy lives? In this week’s blog, we list five more ways to keep you inspired as you learn to play your favourite instrument.

6. Create Specific Goals: Reduce your practice time by setting a specific goal for each practice session. It doesn’t matter what you are working on – a new scale, playing from memory or maintaining your tempo – put your energy into one task. You’ll quickly accomplish your goal, and be inspired to keep practising.

7. Set Realistic Goals: As we said above, make your goals specific. But also make them realistic. Don’t expect to learn Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C Minor in one session. Setting an “ambitious” goal will lead to feelings of failure and discouragement. Keep your goals simple. Start with the first few bars and work up. 

8. Practice What You Love: Once you know the basics, cast your eyes near and far for new inspirations. Ignore the pressure to play what everyone else is playing. Follow your heart and play the music that moves you. Feel passionate about your music. 

9. Review Previous Materials: Don’t forget to go back and practice what you already learned. You can easily forget the music you played last month or last year. Revisiting pieces keeps them fresh in your mind and renews a sense of pride in your accomplishments. 

10. Take A Break: If today was really busy and you’re too tired to play, that’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up for skipping a day. Negative reinforcement will hamper your desire to learn. Remember, music is about enjoyment and self-expression. 

Use a combination of these tips to set a practice schedule that works with your busy life. These strategies will motivate you to learn your next piece and improve your musical skills without feelings of frustration and failure. 

Contact the Brady Arts Academy today to fulfill your love for music. Our various musical courses will satisfy any budding Beethoven.

Written by: Nicole Holas

10 Ways to Practice Music in Your Daily Life

A lot of us complain that we don’t have enough time for the things we enjoy. With our busy lives, practicing music is often dropped for more “important” tasks. 

Staying motivated to practice is also difficult, especially if you’re learning a new piece or struggling with a tricky movement. But there are ways to increase your musical knowledge and skills. 

Over the next two weeks, our blogs will share 10 ways to stay inspired as you learn to play your favourite instrument. 

1. Learn To Read Music: Reading sheet music is an important skill to master, as it opens a door to a wider variety of music. Find time during your day to practice your reading. You can read the musical piece’s sheet music while listening to it, or during a break from work while sipping your coffee. 

2. Listen To Music: This might seem obvious but listening to a piece of music while learning it helps you notice mistakes. The piece won’t “sound right” as you play. 

3. Visualize Playing the Instrument: Close your eyes and mentally see yourself playing the instrument. Just as an athlete visualizes winning a big game, you can see yourself playing the piece flawlessly. Practicing is as much a mental activity as a physical one. 

4. Break It Down: It can take hours of practice to learn an entire song, even short ones. Break down the song into smaller segments and work on them independently. This increases your success and encourages you to continue mastering the piece without the countless hours of practice. 

5. Set Shorter Practice Times: You don’t need to lock yourself in a room for days on end to learn to play music. This leads to “burn out” and discourages future practice. Instead, practice in 20-30 minute blocks, and then take a short break. If you feel good at the end of 30 minutes, it’s o.k. to keep going. 

Next week we’ll share the five other tips to help you practice music. For now, consider taking a course from the Belinda Brady Arts Academy. Our skilled, knowledgeable teachers can help you find your love for music. 

Written by: Nicole Holas

Music Education Benefits Adults in Business

In today’s challenging world, people who can process information quickly, ignore distractions, and switch smoothly from one task to another are enormous advantages to any business. Those skills also extend to home-based businesses. 

New research shows that trained, experienced musicians process these skills disproportionately to other people. 

A new study shows that music training increases our capacity for “fluid intelligence” defined as the ability to think abstractly and solve problems. It also positively enhances our memory, attention, and the ability to plan, organize, and accomplish goals. This supports the positive relationship between music training and cognitive function. 

The study tested several tests on seventy-two college undergraduates.

The undergraduates were grouped into three categories:

  • Musical Experts: People who started formal music training at age ten or younger, and continued for at least a decade
  • Musical Amateurs: Those with at least one year of musical training
  • Non Musicians 

The study’s findings show that musicians with extensive experience scored significantly higher than non-musicians and less-trained musicians. Specifically, they did better on attention, working memory and processing speed. 

They also show that the ability to think abstractly and solve problems is enhanced by musical training, as it involves quickly comprehending a complex symbolic system, multitasking, reasoning, and more.

For example, playing in an ensemble requires the ability to focus on one’s piece without being distracted by other musicians, and processing speed is enhanced by learning to quickly react to the demands of the music, collaborators, etc. 

The results of the executive-function test were the most interesting. The test involves rapidly sorting pictures by shape and color, and musical amateurs performed significantly better than non-musicians but not as well as musical experts.

Regardless of the age you start to study music, the skills learned are useful for any adult in a leadership or executive role. A musical education can also enhance your skills if you are a home-based business. 

Contact the Belinda Brady Arts Academy today to discuss our musical education courses. 

Written by: Nicole Holas