Music Note Stems – Pizza and Donuts

The quarter note stem direction of a harmonic interval of a second, is determined by the note furthest away from the middle line.

Music Note Stems - Pizza and Donuts

Music Note Stems - What do Pizza and Donuts have to do with the music note stems?  Well the pizza and donuts Memory Joggers have saved my sanity. I struggle with Dyslexia and often need that “silly saying” to keep my brain from switching concepts around.

For me, pizza and donuts was the perfect way to remember the direction for Music Note Stems. Why?

  • First of all, it involved two of my favorite foods. (Hawaiian pizza and chocolate coconut donuts).
  • Secondly, it doesn’t involve a “b” (which I often mix “d” up with). Yes, it is a Dyslexic Thing and I will try to explain it.

Since the stem on p goes down on the left, the stem on d must go up on the right and not up on the left like a b and donuts starts with a d so the stem goes up on the right. Are you confused yet? *grin*

If you struggle with Dyslexia, you are probably nodding your head up and down and saying “right on”! If you don’t struggle with mixing your p, d and b letters up, then, well, forget everything that I just wrote!

Music Note Stems - Pizza and Donuts Memory Joggers

So what do pizza and donuts have to do with the music note stems? In Prep 1 Rudiments on Page 40, students learn the Music Note Stems Rule:music note stems
music note stems - pizza & donutsSee – pizza and donuts! That Music Note Stems Rule is an easy Memory Jogger to remember, even for me.

Meet Théo. Théo is a bright, energetic 7 year old student who lights up my studio with his eagerness and enthusiasm.

He also makes me laugh.

I was proudly explaining to him the Music Note Stems Memory Jogger.

We used the Ultimate Whiteboard to draw the Memory Jogger to learn how pizza and donuts can help us remember that the stem goes down on the left and up on the right.

Well, Théo explained that he had his own way of remembering the Music Note Stems Rule Memory Jogger.

So, I guess you now have two Music Note Stems Rule Memory Joggers:

  • 1. UMT Tip: Stem goes down on the left like the p in pizza; stem goes up on the right like the d in donut.
  • 2. Théo's Tip: Stem goes up on the right because when your head is a whole note, you can’t put your left arm up on the right side of your head unless you cut it off, so the stem has to go up on the right. And the stem goes down on the left because you can’t put your right arm down on the left side of your head unless you cut it off…

You know something? I love how Théo’s mind works! Even if he forgets pizza and donuts, he will never forget that a stem goes up on the right and down on the left.

Have you had a student share their own unique memory jogger with you? Please share it with us too!


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

Shelagh McKibbon-U'Ren


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