Autumn Acorn ACE

The popular composer and piano pedagogy teacher Elizabeth Gutierrez suggested in her Piano Camp for Piano Teachers  workshop a few years ago that learning the notes A C E on the staff is one of the easier ways for beginners to learn note names. So I don’t want to take credit for this idea, although it is a good one! Instead of having to remember a lot of acronyms and guide notes, students just learn where ACE is located on the grand staff. As a bonus, they learn skips, too, and the student can play the ACE position on the piano as they learn the notes. After learning A C E, they can branch off and learn the notes above and below. Line notes are hard, but it is easier if you always know where A C and E are!

I just want to mention that in my experience, no matter how well a student knows the names of notes, that does not ensure he or she will be a good sight reader. I think we all have students who get A’s on theory tests and are very zippy with flash cards, but not so good sight reading music at the piano bench.  So many people don’t seem to realize that the two are very different skills that use different part of the brain. And everyone’s brain is wired differently. A student does not have to be a good sight reader to be a good musician, although it is a wonderful skill.

If learning the names of notes confidently doesn’t always mean the student is going to be able to read music well at the piano, why bother? Here are some reasons, and you probably have some you can add to the list!

  • It gives students confidence that they are musicians.
  • It helps students jump around to different notes on the piano.
  • Even if students can’t sight read that well, they can work through the music in their own comfort zone at home.
  • They can learn music theory, which is rather impossible if you don’t know what the notes are!
  • They can compose and write their music on staff paper.
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20 thoughts to “Autumn Acorns A C E

  • Drema

    Hi Susan,

    Thanks for these worksheets~ This was very helpful for my students! =)

    • Susan Paradis

      You’re welcome. I’m so glad they were helpful.

  • Mary McG

    Thank you so much for your wonderful work! These visuals are so great for the students, as they show the relationship between the notes. I love that you have them pertaining to the different seasons, It is so important to keep reinforcing this, until it clicks, and you are keeping it fun and fresh for my students! You are a blessing.

    • Susan Paradis

      You’re welcome, Mary. Thanks for your nice comments!

  • Susan

    Thx Susan for another wonderful worksheet !! Love it 🙂

    • Susan Paradis

      You’re welcome!

  • Ann

    Thank you for another great worksheet. I love your work and the beautiful graphics and appreciate that you are kind enough to share them.

    • Susan Paradis

      Thank you, Ann! I’m glad you like my acorns!

  • Lezlie

    Hi Susan! I’m another huge fan! I saw your post in my email yesterday and started using the concept today with some students who still struggle with notereading. The worksheet will be a fun reinforcement, so I just got to print it.
    Thank for always inspiring me and others to make lessons fun and creative.

    • Susan Paradis

      You’re welcome, Lezlie. It makes me feel good to think that students besides my own are enjoying my material!

  • Tanalyn

    Thank you Susan for ALL that you share!!Not a lesson goes by that I am not using one of your worksheets, music or games! Thank you!

    • Susan Paradis

      Thank you, Tanalyn, that is really motivating for me to finish some of the things in my files!

  • Milla

    Thanks for everything that you share. Besides knowing the notes, sightreading involves knowing well the “geography” of the keyboard and eye-hand coordination. So, just knowing the notes is not enough. I would love the suggestions on how to develop these two skills. Thanks again.

    • Susan Paradis

      Milla, you are so correct about the geography of the keyboard. Sight-reading is a skill that starts at the very beginning of learning notes of the staff. Students need to recognize notes are either steps, skips, or repeats. It is innate to some students, while others struggle. Learning to sight read patterns is important as well as learning scale fingerings and playing in different positions. Practicing sight reading is very helpful, and there are a lot of sight-reading cards out there. I even have some on my website. I’ve discussed many of these topics in my blog over the years. I’ll try to address it some more.

  • Allysia

    Thanks for the resource, I’ll be printing this off for some of my students!

    • Susan Paradis

      Allysia, you’re welcome, and I appreciate you leaving a comment!

  • Sara

    Wonderful! This will be fun and so helpful for my first year students! Thank you!

    • Susan Paradis

      You’re welcome, Sara. I’ll be posting some more to help learn A C E on the staves.

  • Barbara Graham

    Thanks Susan for your comments on sight reading. I agree completely with your comments.

    • Susan Paradis

      Barbara, you must have discovered this in your teaching, too!

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