Landmark Notes

UMT Landmark Notes

What are Landmark Notes?  The Google Online dictionary defines "Landmark" as "on object or feature that is easily seen and recognized from a distance, especially one that enables someone to establish their location".  

Landmark Notes are notes (on the staff) that are easily seen and recognized (even from a distance) that enable the Student to establish their location on the piano (and on the Staff).

By looking at the picture of the "building" in the title picture for this Blog, can you tell where So-La and Ti-Do are?  Mais oui!  Ils sont en France à la Tour Eiffel.  (Why yes! They are in France at the Eiffel Tour.)

How do we know that? Because that building is a "Landmark" - it is easily seen and recognized (even from a distance).  I like to discuss with my Students what Landmarks they know of.  (CN Tower in Toronto; Big Ben in London, etc.)

So how can we use Landmark Notes to support identifying notes in music?

Landmark Notes - Treble Staff G

If you have any beginner students, I strongly recommend that you use the Ultimate Music Theory Beginner A, B, C Series.  My first year students use Music Theory Beginner A with their first Piano Method Series.

We usually complete 2 pages a week.  However, I cannot count the number of times that my Students "apologize" at their lesson because they completed more pages than what I assigned.  (I had one Student complete 28 pages in one week because, in his words, "I was having too much fun to stop".)

On Page 53 of the Music Theory Beginner A Workbook, students connect the concepts of the Staff and the Treble or G Clef.  This creates our first Landmark Note - the G on Line #2 of the Treble Staff.

It is SO VERY IMPORTANT (yes, I "yelled" that) that we teach our Students how to draw the Treble Clef Sign correctly.  It must cross that "G line #2" 4 times.

UMT Landmark Notes - Treble G

If you are not sure how to teach your Students to correctly draw the Treble Clef Sign, you can download your free Treble Staff Theory Worksheets found in the Free Resources Section on our Website.

I also wrote a Blog - Draw a Treble Clef Properly - that has been viewed over 16 thousand times.  So, I guess we are not the only ones who struggle to teach young Students how to draw that Treble Staff properly.

In the Music Theory Beginner A Workbook on Page 52, Students also learn how to trace the Treble Clef correctly.  We start by tracing, and then we move to drawing/writing the Treble Clef Sign without the tracing dots.  This step-by-step learning process supports building a strong foundation in Music Theory.

Landmark Notes - Treble Staff - Right Hand Notes

As I explore Landmark Notes in this Blog, I want to clarify that:

  1. Yes, I know that the music in the Treble Staff can be played with either hand.  However, since we are introducing Landmark Notes to Beginner Students, we KISS - Keep it Simple for Students (or Keep it Super Simple).
  2. Yes, I know that there are all kinds of Memory Joggers for the Lines and Spaces of the Treble Staff.  This Blog is about Landmark Notes though - the 4 notes that Students can use as a starting point to identify any note on the Treble Staff.

Landmark Note Middle C is introduced in the Music Theory Beginner A Workbook on Page 54.  What follows in this Workbook is a step-by-step teaching of how to read the patterns (distances) between the notes.  This is SO COOL!

To continue to create Landmarks in the Treble Staff, I like to add the C in Space #3 and the F on Line #5.  With these 4 notes, and using their understanding of distances, intervals and patterns, Students can easily find any note on the Treble Staff.

UMT Landmark Notes - Treble Staff

Landmark Notes - Bass Staff F

In the Bass Staff, the F Clef Sign creates a Landmark for the note F.

Again, we must teach our Students how to draw/write the F Clef/Bass Staff/Bass Clef sign properly.

You can download the free Bass Staff Theory Worksheets to practice writing the Bass Staff (and the Landmark Notes) correctly.  Remember to check out the other Free Resource Worksheets that are available for you!

In the blog How to Draw a Bass Clef, we learn the importance of drawing a Bass Clef Sign properly.  When you draw a Bass Clef Sign properly, you create a Landmark for F on Line #4 of the Bass Staff.

Once again, Students can easily learn how to draw this.  It is not hard.  In the Ultimate Music Theory Beginner A Workbook on Page 62, Students learn how to draw the Bass Clef by tracing it.  Then, the next step is learning how to draw it correctly without the tracing dots.

UMT Landmark Bass Staff

Landmark Notes - Bass Staff - Left Hand

When we first start teaching the Bass Staff, Students learn that these notes will be played with the Left Hand.  (Yes, as they progress, they will learn that the Right Hand can also play notes in this Staff.)

Remember, this is Beginner Students! (KISS!)

We identify the 4 Landmark Notes in the Bass Staff:  Line #1 of the Bass Staff is G; Space #2 of the Bass Staff is C; Line #4 of the Bass Staff is F and Middle C is the Ledger Line note above the Bass Staff.

Did you happen to notice that we are identifying Middle C, G, F and C in both the Treble Staff and the Bass Staff?  There is a reason for this - we Keep it Simple for Students!

And yes, I know that there are also different sayings that you can use as Memory Joggers for the lines and spaces of the Bass Staff.  That is not the purpose of these Landmark Notes.

UMTM Landmark Notes Bass Staff Left Hand

If you are an Ultimate Music Theory Member, you can also download free Worksheets for this Blog:  Landmark Notes in the Treble Staff and Landmark Notes in the Bass Staff.

By helping our Students learn where these 4 Landmark Notes in the Treble Staff and where these 4 Landmark Notes in the Bass Staff are placed, it is easier to teach using intervals and patterns.

In my Teaching, I love seeing the "light bulb of understanding" go off when Students see that they can figure out the name of the notes on the Staff (and their corresponding pitch placement on the Keyboard) by simply knowing where the 4 Landmark Notes in each Staff are.

Remember to SAY IT & PLAY IT when working with Students.  The Ultimate Music Theory Beginner A, B, C Workbooks are fantastic for connecting the Staff to the Keyboard.  Theory is not just writing - it is also playing.  So, have some fun!  By helping your Students understand the Landmark Notes, you are giving them the tools to discover the names of all the notes on the Staff.

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Keep on Learning... With a Smile and a Song!

Shelagh McKibbon-U'Ren

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