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Why do most piano teachers not teach the names of all the notes from the very start? When you or your children are first introduced to the piano, you are usually shown that the white notes are named the letters of the alphabet from A through G and then start over on A again, repeating as you move from left to right. For some reason, almost all methods apparently believe that you should not teach beginners the names of all the notes, including the names of the black notes, from the first lesson. Why should you NOT teach the names of all the notes on the first lesson?

I have attached a picture of all the note names. The black notes on the piano each have two names. The note between A and B can be called A# (A sharp) or it can be called Bb (B flat).You could say that you moved UP from A to A# and call it that. You could say that you moved DOWN from B to Bb and call it that. There are certain rules that let you know when to call it A# and when to call it Bb, but those rules are usually taught well after the student has taken many lessons, usually reading notes from the staff line. Buit why should you not teach all of the note names from the very first lesson?

Is it because it is confusing? Is it because it is complicated? Is it too much for a beginner to understand? Look at the picture again. Granted, having two names for one note is not what we're used to seeing. That's like having a child named Emily Jane Smith and calling her Emily whenever she's in her room and calling her Jane when she is out of her room. Now that would be confusing. And just why are there two names for each black note? The reason goes back hundreds of years and that is another story, entirely.

But it is now 2014. There are  kids out there four and five years old with hand-held devices playing pretty complex games. There are youngsters with cell phones. We can stop underestimating our kids and each other. I teach my students the names of all the notes on the very first lesson and explain that the "hashtag" (#) is called sharp and means find the letter-named note and move up one note to the black note above it and that the "little b" (b) is called flat and means find the letter-named note and move down one note. They all just smile and say, "Okay."

Even if you don't use these black notes in reading notes from the staff line at first, there is no reason to not teach students all of the note names from the very first lesson. After all, will it ever hurt a student to know their instrument properly?

If you want to know more, visit www.mikeellismusicinstruction.com or www.ellismusiclessons.com. I'll be happy to help you learn your instrument, no matter which one you play, even sitar from India.

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