Brown Cows Eat Grass, Ducks Fly Away

If you have ever learned to read traditional music notation, you probably remember the mnemonic devices you used to learn the lines and spaces of the staff. Something like “Every Good Boy Does Fine” for the lines of the treble clef, or “All Cows Eat Grass” for the spaces of the bass clef.  The first letter of each word tells you the order of the notes on the staff. Here are some similar mnemonic devices to help with learning the TwinNote staff. 


Brown Cows Eat Grass — for the lines:

Brown Cows Eat Grass a mnemonic for learning the lines of the TwinNote staff


Ducks Fly Away — for the spaces:

Ducks Fly Away a mnemonic for learning the spaces of the TwinNote staff


They each repeat twice, reflecting the repeating pattern of notes on the (two-octave) TwinNote staff.  You actually only have to learn one octave of the staff since one octave is the same as the next.  I like how they can work as either descriptive or imperative statements: “Ducks fly away.” or “DUCKS! FLY AWAY!”

I’m assuming that a good approach for beginners would be to begin by learning to read the natural notes (C, D, E, F, G, A, B) first, and then move on to sharp and flat notes. (I’m also assuming they would be using the traditional nomenclature, but alternative nomenclatures are always an option as well.)  For example, learning to play in the keys of C major and A minor first, and then moving around the circle of fifths one key at a time, and with each key adding one new note to learn to read and play.

In that case it probably makes sense to learn the lines and spaces of the staff as having a “default note” — the natural note that falls on that line or space.  That’s where the mnemonics come in.  Of course the notes B and C both share the same ledger line(s), and so that ledger line would be known as the “B/C” ledger line.  The fact that B and C fall on the ledger line in the middle of the staff helps make it easier to remember that they are the exceptional case.  In the mnemonic, the words “brown cows” go together just like the notes they represent, also making this easy to learn and remember.

Posted on by Paul Morris | Permalink.