Teaching Note Reading Skills with Flashcards

World Piano Pedagogy Convention Notes

Notes by Brent Hugh
Assistant Professor of Piano
Missouri Western State College Department of Music

These notes are part of our Piano Pedagogy curriculum.

You might take a moment to find out more about the Keyboard Studies program at MWSC,
or visit our online message board about learning and teaching piano.

Why use flashcards?

How to practice with flashcards

The main purpose of practicing with flashcards is to build a strong connection in the student's mind between the visual appearance of the written note and the location of the note on the piano keyboard/the sound of the note. Learning the name of the note can be helpful in this process, but is clearly of secondary importance.

Basic practice:

  1. Flash the card
  2. Student plays the note on the piano
  3. Student says name of the note



  1. in a certain position (C position or G Position)
  2. with a certain specified finger (always 2nd finger)
  3. with whatever finger is handy

Each of these encourages the student to think in a slightly different way. This is good--try them all.

Practical teaching considerations

Similarly, if your method book uses "landmark" notes, introduce upcoming landmarks (and surrounding notes) with your flashcards weeks before they appear in the book.



Other note reading aids

Note flashcards are good, but so are:

  1. Play and name the specified interval
  2. Play and name the specified interval starting with a given note (regardless of the actual notes on the flashcard)
  3. Diatonic intervals (2nd, 3rd, 4th . . . ) first; later chromatic intervals (m2, M2, m3, M3, P4, . . . )
  1. Name major key and/or minor key
  2. Play major and/or minor scale in that key
  3. Play simple chord progression (for example, I-V7-I) in that key