Do you speak lines and spaces?

"All Cows Eat… Milk?"

The gem above came from a young piano student at her lesson a few weeks ago.  Yes, it was funny and cute, brought some big smiles and led to a discussion about how baby cows do indeed eat milk, but it was a reminder to me of how tough it is for some students to learn to read notes on the staff.  Sometimes we forget that we have been reading this language for decades, and that our students are trying to master another language with nowhere near as much time dedicated to it as needed to be fluent.  We recite our EGBDF’s, smiley FACE 😄 but the breakthrough comes with the student just being so comfortable and fluent with the musical alphabet, where every note is in connection to others that they don’t have to recite rhymes. 

So to reinforce, in a different way, I grabbed some string, a couple of water bottle tops and set to work in modifying the pink carpet…    

IMG 3459


Instant staff and a new approach to lines and spaces.  

All my students were so excited to see the new addition to the floor and were ready to give it a try.  Here’s a couple of games we played.


For younger students just getting to grips with steps and skips we practiced moving around the staff by jumping and hopping. “Stand on G and jump a step down”. When they arrive on the new note they have to shout its name. That one student who is really shy and jumping on the floor isn’t going to appeal… ask them to place something on the note, an eraser, a shaker. Next time they’ll want it to be their feet!


For this, I made some word flashcards.  After the student selected one, they would make a sentence using the word, then walk out the word, saying each letter as they land on it.  For some students I would just read aloud the word they chose and and have them spell it out with no visual aid.  This is a fun game, and I like that it reinforces spelling.

bass clef

It only took a few minutes to set up the floor before lessons started and I used it with students for just 3-4 minutes, mainly at the start of the lesson, to give a nice burst of positive energy.  For students who sometimes get fidgety or lose concentration, I did the game in the middle of the lesson to break it up. 

Copyright © 2018 Angela Dwyer