The trouble with mnemonics

The trouble with mnemonics

Teaching the notes using mnemonics such as “Every Good Boy Deserves Fruit” often results in children who struggle to read music because they don’t know the notes. It is the way that the notes have traditionally been taught, but this way of teaching has its limitations.


Is not fun or engaging

Teaching the notes to children using mnemonics is not a fun or engaging way to teach. It uses an abstract, mechanical strategy which can be very tedious for a child to use when reading music. It can be confusing for children deciding all the time which of the four mnemonics to use, and this, combined with having to count up the lines and spaces to identify every note, can make reading music a difficult and slow process.


Requires children to think logically

When children are taught the notes using mnemonics, it requires them think in an abstract, conceptual way. The ability to conceptualise a thought and see patterns are skills that develop with age, and are skills that are not well developed in younger children.


Doesn’t facilitate instant recognition of the notes

Mnemonics do not teach children to instantly recognise the notes, but they must constantly count up the lines and spaces in order to identify note names. Teaching the notes with mnemonics gives a strategy rather than giving a direct link to the information. The learner has to depend on using the mnemonic to get the answers, rather than having a direct link to the answers.


Doesn’t link notes on the stave to notes on the piano

In addition to this, mnemonics only teach the notes on the stave, without linking them to the notes on the piano. With children who have been taught the notes on the stave using mnemonics, it is common to find that they are not able to easily locate the corresponding notes on the piano.

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