Lesson 1 F-A-C-E the music

Basic music reading will add a whole new dimension to your skills - the ability to translate a sheet of paper with all those dots and strange symbols into musical sounds.  The musical language has only seven letters to learn - they just repeat for higher or lower sounds.  Time to get started!

Let’s F-A-C-E the music by learning the spaces of the treble cleff.

As you can see, the spaces spell the word “FACE”.









The Lines use the first letter of the words Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge to give you the E-G-B-D-F.


Flash cards will make the process of learning the notes a much quicker process and a little more interesting.

Flash cards that can print on any computer can be found at:



If you are more of a "game" enthusiast - try "Learn Music Notes", a free flash card app for phones or tablets:


Be sure to set the preference to English ABC in the settings.  The program is set for Solfage (Do Re Mi)


Now, let's put this to practical use by playing a tune.  We'll play in the comfort zone for now - not venturing to the "dark side".  The following tune, Hot Cross Buns, uses only three notes.  As you play each note say the note name to help solidify where these notes are on the staff and your Psaltery as you play. Hint:  begins on E- find any E on your psaltery that has at least two notes below it.




Once you can play this melody starting on your chosen "E", try to find another "E" on your psaltery and do the same.  This will allow you to play in different octaves - the same notes but with a higer or lower pitch (sound).

 Now that you can play this in at least two places (on most psalteries), let's get a bit braver and try another few notes:




Here's one more to try:  Boil Them Cabbages Down. 

Uses four notes - see how easy it is to expand your knowledge!






Remember to say the note names as you read and play.

Note values:  This tune uses only quarter (solid dark filled in) notes and half (not filled in, empty) notes. Be sure to hold the half notes.  When you see a half note (not filled in) simply wait for one count by saying the word "Wait" after the actual note name.  Don't be overly concerned about values right now, we'll get into rhythms and counting in upcoming lessons.



You need to be a member of Psaltery Pstudents to add comments!

Comment by Denise S on October 6, 2019 at 6:33pm

All the links above are broken, can someone please point me to the flash cards and the game to be downloaded?  Thanks in advance.  I think "children level" is a good starting place for this old gal.  

Comment by Giacinto Trentadue on January 6, 2016 at 4:41am

This is awesome! I learned the same tecnique when I played the bagpipe some years ago but i did`t practice in almoust 8 years, and now, after reading this post, it popped up in my mind again in no time! :) Thanks for this amazing post :)

Comment by Theresa Emmons on February 23, 2012 at 10:41am
Great lesson,Thanks!
Comment by Trish Peek on February 21, 2012 at 11:48am

This is totally awesome!  I've been wanting to learn how to read music to broaden my playing skills!  This is just what I need and I hope the "lessons" will continue!  Thank you so much!

Comment by Elizabeth K on February 20, 2012 at 7:37pm

Thank you so much. This should get me started. (Psaltery is sitting in case right behind me!) 

Comment by Sharon Kirby on February 20, 2012 at 12:24pm

Thanks Dona!  This just may be encouragement I need to spend the time to learn to read music.  Have been using noted note music and love it!, but when I get sheet music that is not noted note, it becomes a challenge.


Comment by Clinton W Price on February 20, 2012 at 12:13pm

Fantastic I really need this, Been attempting to learn without knowing notes and it is the pits,  Keep it coming!!

Comment by Lois Gribneau on February 20, 2012 at 12:00pm

Thanks Dona,

You're right than knowing the notes opens doors to lots of music.  Week 2 into psaltery playing, my problem is keeping my eyes on the music once I know the tune.  ...My eyes are so much better than my hands at finding the middle of the right string!  Thanks for posting the lesson.

Comment by Bonnie Blue Crouse on February 20, 2012 at 10:50am

It's all coming back!

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