Having fast note recognition is often hard for students, but being able to quickly name a note is important and makes learning new pieces much easier. Although using flashcards is a great way to help improve note recognition, students and parents often wonder how to use them effectively or in fun ways.

I was faced with the dilemma of finding creative ways to use flashcards last fall when l I was teaching two girls in a joint piano lesson. I knew that moving the body can be helpful to keep the blood moving and is often more fun than simply sitting still and monotonously drilling flashcards. Therefore, I modified some previous ways I had experienced and ideas I had heard of using flashcards and in the midst of the lesson, I stumbled upon a new flashcard game that was a huge success. I have since also used the flashcard “post office game” in a weekly group music class, and they love it.


Since notes on the staff are built on five lines and four spaces, I find five chairs or tables or some kind of marker to represent the five lines of the staff. The spaces inbetween those “line objects” represent the four spaces of the staff.

With these objects to mark out the lines and spaces, we then talk through what notes would correspond to each line or space. To make it more fun, we called them streets and move around on the staff for various “errands.” For example, if I call out to go visit a friend on “street line F,” the students would go walk up to the line note F. If I call out to return a book at the library on “street space E,” the students would go walk to the space note E.

After becoming familiarized with finding the notes on the large walkable staff system, the students become postal workers who deliver “mail” or “letters” to the various streets. Their delivery letters are the flashcards, and the students go to whatever line or space note the flashcard tells provides. The teacher or parent is the post office where the students come to pick up the letters for delivery. If using the notes from this F scale, the letter F flashcard would go in the space between the first two chairs since the first chair represents E, and the second chair represents G.

To receive a flashcard letter, the student has to correctly name the note on the flashcard. Once receiving a letter from the teacher/parent, the student runs to deliver the letter to the street. The students then stay on the line or space until another student (one or two students are selected to go and pick up the letters) come and “receive the letter.” The receiver student then returns the flashcard to the post office so the flashcard stockpile does not run out, and the student who delivered the letter comes back to the post office to deliver a new letter.

Phone GPS

A nice thing about the staff, is that it also corresponds to our five fingers and four spaces between them. This allows our hand to be our smartphone’s map or GPS, and having the students name and point to the notes of the staff on their hand GPS is also fun.

Question: What instrument was invented a couple hundred years before Christ’s birth and appears to have been used with Greek philosophy and for imitating bird sounds?

Answer will be posted on the next blog post.