Accidental Rules – Adding Necessary Accidentals

Ultimate Music Theory Adding Necessary Accidentals

When adding necessary accidentals to the notes on the staff, there are rules! The keyword here is to write only the necessary accidentals required on the staff.

When we say the name of a note, and its name includes an accidental, it is always necessary to say the name of the accidental too.  We say the letter name (A, B, C, D, E, F, G).  We say if the pitch is double flat, flat, sharp, or double sharp.  That accidental is part of the note name. 

However, when we write the note on the staff, and its name includes an accidental, it is NOT always necessary to write the accidental on the staff.  

Lets review the Accidental Rules as they involve adding necessary accidentals to the notes on the Staff.  We will also review what a Redundant Accidental is, and why we don't use them.

Accidental Rules - Adding Necessary Accidentals

Before we start with the Pop Quiz, it is important to review what we know.

In the blog Natural Rules, we reviewed How, When and Where to write the Natural Sign.

In the blog Naming Notes, we reviewed how accidentals affect the name of the note.

In the blog Writing Accidentals, we reviewed how to teach Students to write accidentals using the KISS Method.

In the blog Tied Notes with Accidentals, we reviewed how to name/identify notes when they are tied (and how the tie and bar line affect the accidental).

In this blog, we will learn what is considered necessary when adding necessary accidentals to write notes on the staff (to match the given names).

Let's have fun and start with a Pop Quiz.  Add the necessary accidentals on the staff to match the given note names.  As you look at this Pop Quiz, are you 100% confident?

Ultimate Music Theory Pop Quiz Adding Necessary Accidentals

Accidental Rules - Adding Necessary Accidentals (not Redundant Accidentals)

When we say the name of the note, we say the letter name.  If the notehead has been affected by an accidental (an accidental was used to raise or lower the pitch of the note), we also say the accidental.

Remember that we only say "natural" when we "SEE" the natural sign.

An accidental does not have to be written in front of every notehead for other notes on that line or in that space (within the measure) to be affected by the accidental.  If the notehead has been affected by an accidental, we must always say that accidental when we say the name of the notes.

An accidental that is written unnecessarily is called a Redundant Accidental.

Take a look at this Example Box.  Play all the notes and say the letter name (note name) of each note as you play it.

 

Ultimate Music Theory - Adding Necesary Accidentals

I have asked you a question. Do you understand why the final 2 notes in this Example Box are G Sharp and G flat? (Sorry that I cannot use the sharp or flat signs in my text!)

Here is the answer:

  1. G Sharp (in the space above the Treble Staff) does not need a sharp in front of the notehead since there is already a sharp in this space (and that sharp has not been canceled by a Bar Line or by another accidental).  We do need to write the sharp after the Letter Name (after the "G") as the note is G sharp (not just plain old "G").
  2. G Flat (on line #2 of the Treble Staff) does not need a flat in front of the notehead since there is already a flat on line #2 earlier in the measure (the second note). This flat makes every single line #2 G "flat" until it is canceled by a Bar Line or by another accidental.

Do you see the difference between writing accidentals on the staff in front of the noteheads and naming the actually notes (using the letter name and the necessary accidental)?

UMT Adding Necessary Accidentals - Spot the Boo Boo

Adding Necessary Accidentals - Spot the Boo-Boo

I am so excited to introduce you to Spot!  Spot the Dog likes to ask Students and Teachers to "Spot the Boo-Boo".

I like to use the term "Boo-Boo" instead of "mistake" here since these are intentional errors in the question.  And, my nickname is "Boo-Boo" since I am always editing and looking for Boo-Boos.

So, Spot the Dog would like you to Spot the Boo-Boo.  Hmmm....there just might be more than 1 Boo-Boo.  Can you find them all?

When we SAY the letter names of the notes on the staff, we do not need to SEE all the accidentals.  This example shows what it looks like when we SEE all the accidental signs that we SAY.  It certainly looks silly, doesn't it!

Understanding what the Redundant Accidentals are can be tricky.  Young children especially like to see what they say.

Just a little "personal note": I used to struggle with understanding why some of my students did not understand the reasoning behind some of these theory concepts. I would often wonder why, if I got it (and I have some learning issues), my student could not get it.

While I was completing the Ultimate Music Theory Certification Course, I finally "GOT IT"! Learning Styles!  I was trying to teach all my Students in MY Learning Style.  When they didn't "get it" using MY Learning Style "tips", I would get frustrated. Thanks to the Ultimate Music Theory Certification Course, I discovered how to teach TO my Students using THEIR Learning Styles.  Wow.  It was a very humbling experience for me as a Teacher.

UMT - Adding Necessary Accidentals - Spot the Boo-Boo Answer

Accidental Rules - Adding Necessary Accidentals - using Bar Lines

Now that we understand what a Redundant Accidental is, let's review how Bar Lines affect the notes on the staff.

In the Blog Accidental Rules - Naming Notes, I wrote:

A Bar Line cancels any accidentals.

I tell my Students that a Bar Line is like a Street Cleaner - it sweeps all the "accidentals" off of the Staff Highway.

If you want a note to still be sharp or flat, then you need to write the accidental again after the Bar Line.

This rule is very important when we are writing the notes to match the given Note Names.  In the Example Box, what accidentals need to be written to the first line so that all notes are named correctly? Check your answers with the answer at the bottom of the Example Box.

Ultimate Music Theory Adding Necessary Accidentals with Bar Lines

Did you get them all correct?

As Teachers, it is so important that we figure out why our answer is different from the given answer (or the answer in the Answer Book).  Do not just say "Oh well, I got it wrong".  Say "Okay, why did I get this incorrect?".

Remember, as my nickname states, I do make "Boo-Boos"! There are Errata Pages for the Ultimate Music Theory Workbooks and Answer Books.  Errata Pages list the errors that were discovered after we printed the book.  Go to the Free Resources section on the Website and look for the Errata Page for each Workbook.  If you do not have that "Boo-Boo" in your Workbook or Answer Book, then you probably have a later (reprinted) edition.

Accidental Rules - Adding Necessary Accidentals - Worksheets (For Members Only!)

Before you look at the Answers to our Pop Quiz, I would encourage you to check out the Ultimate Music Theory Membership!

As part of your Membership, you will be able to print two corresponding Worksheets for this Blog.

The first Worksheet is Adding Necessary Accidentals.  The second Worksheet is Adding Necessary Accidentals With Bar Lines.  Both Worksheets have Answer Sheets to make your marking super easy!

And remember, the only way to access these Worksheets is to have an Ultimate Music Teachers Membership.

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Want Access To The UMT Worksheet That Correlates To This Blog? Get Worksheets, Games, How To Teach Online Tips, Coaching Calls & More!

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Accidental Rules - Adding Necessary Accidentals - Pop Quiz Answers

Below are the answers to our Pop Quiz.  How did you do?

Now, what can you do if you made some mistakes and you do not understand the reason why you made the mistake?

First, re-read this Blog.  Read the other Blogs about accidentals.  Print off the Worksheets and complete them yourself.  Mark them using the corresponding Answer Sheets.

If you are still struggling, remember that I am here for you.  You can book me for a 1 hour private Theory Coaching Call.  It is so very important to thoroughly understand Theory Concepts so that we can teach them effectively and successfully!

Ultimate Music Theory Pop quiz answers
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Keep on Learning... With a Smile and a Song!

Shelagh McKibbon-U'Ren

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