Lesson 3

Musical Alphabet

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Hello and welcome back. I'm Joseph Hoffman.
Today we're going to learn about the music alphabet
and how it relates to the piano.

Uh, excuse me, no offense, Mr. Hoffman,

I've know the alphabet since, well, before Kindergarten!

Don't worry, princess. The musical alphabet is a little bit different
from the regular alphabet you already know. Plus, in music,
you not only need to master the alphabet forward,
but backwards, and in skips.
These alphabet skills are the very important
but often overlooked foundation for excellent sight reading
of notes on the staff.

Oh! Okay.

It will make sense in no time.
Let's come and take a look at how it works.
I'm going to lay out the letters of the musical alphabet,
and as you see each letter, let's say it together:

Uh, Mr. Hoffman, this still looks like the regular alphabet.

I know. Just wait, we're getting there. F, G and then,
here's where things start to get different.
In music, the next letter after G is A. It starts over again.
There's no H in music.


So, after A comes B again. Say it along with me:
C D E F G and then what comes next?


That's right. A. And now I'm out of cards,
but on your piano though, the notes keep going higher and higher.
You see, every time you go up a letter that's the same as going up one note,
or one white key higher on your piano. Let me show you what I mean on my piano.

Now if you have an 88 key piano like me,
then your lowest key will be A. You hear how low that is.
And, the nice thing about the musical alphabet is,
it just follows every key on your piano, goes up one letter in the music alphabet.
So we have A, B, C, D, E, F, G, and then it starts over again, A, B, C, D, E, F, G.
Go ahead and say it along with me:
A B C D E F G,
A B C D E F G,
A B C D E F G,
A B C D E F G,
A B C D E F G,
A B C. You can see the highest note of the piano is C.
And that's, again, on an 88 key piano. In another lesson really soon,
I'll show you some tools where you can use the black keys
as a reference to figure out any white key.
For example, if you play this key,
you wouldn't want to have to count all the way from the bottom
to figure out that that's an E. I'll give you that in a later lesson.

Let's come back and do a little more practice with the musical alphabet.
To review, lets' play a game. I've drawn the musical alphabet starting with A.
But there are a few missing letters that I'll need your help to figure out.
Let's say the letters together. A, B, what letter should go here?
If you said C, you're correct. D, E what letter should go here?
If you said F, you're correct. F, G. Great job.

Now, in music, you can start with a different letter on the bottom if you want to.
So let's try another, starting with D. This time there are even more missing letters.
So we're starting on D, can you think of the note that's a step above D?
Just think of the next letter of the alphabet. What is it?
Let's see. If you said E, you're correct.
If you couldn't think of that, then just remember, think of the alphabet.
A, B, C, D, and then the next letter is E. And then what comes after that?
If you said F, you're correct. Then what letter comes next?
If you said A, you're correct. You didn't say H, did you? Oh, whew! Good.
And then what comes next? B, and then, last of all, if you said C, you are correct.
Let's try one more. This time we're starting on C.
Can you think of the next letter? If you said D, you're correct. What comes next?
C, D, then E, F, then what? G and then what comes after G?
That's right, it's A and then B.

Nice work. Now for you hot shots that might be thinking to yourself,
this is still too easy Mr. Hoffman,
remember that I said you need to be able to master the music alphabet,
starting on any letter, forward and backward, and in skips.
Like if I said, quickly tell me the musical alphabet backwards,
starting on the letter F, could you do it? F, E, D, C, B, A, G, F. Oh!
What about doing the musical alphabet forward starting on D,
but skipping every other letter? Can you do it? D, F, A, C, E, G, B, D, F.

So, to become a true musical alphabet master, which will help you so much
as you start learning to read musical notes on the staff,
I'd like you to practice the musical alphabet a little bit every day.
Start on any letter, practice saying it forward, then, as you get better at that,
then try saying it backward. That's level 2.
Then level three is skipping every other letter, going forward:
A C E G B D F. Kind of like, "acegibidif."
Then, level four is ...