Only If It’s Always True

I’m bombarded with new products. Cartoon characters to represent each and every note on the grand staff. Wouldn’t that be a great way to introduce each and every note on the staff? 

I know that this product and others were created by people who meant well. It takes a great deal of effort to make anything, and I sincerely hope they help some students. I won’t use them because cartoon characters will not always be representing every note. Not to mention the fact that good readers read by shape and the cartoon note-heads make that nearly impossible. I take a different approach.

I only teach something if it’s always true. 

Simple enough, but it takes diligence to follow.

It prevents me from saying things like:

  • The treble clef is for the right hand. 
  • Eighth notes go really fast.
  • When you see a sharp, play a black key.

Because these things are often true, it’s tempting to present them as truth. But that’s like telling your kid that babies get delivered by the stork. Easier at the time, but not actually true. What do you do when you have to change what you’ve told them?

Easier at the time, but…

It’s easier just to tell the truth. The whole truth. And nothing but the truth.

  • The treble clef is most often used for the right hand.
  • Eighth notes go twice as fast as quarter notes.
  • When you see a sharp, play the very next key higher.

When Keith Snell and I were writing Piano Town, we confronted these issues every day. Looking back, we should have T-shirts made that said, “It is ALWAYS true?” We rewrote the presentation of basic concepts repeatedly to hold ourselves to this standard.

I challenge you to use the same standard in your daily teaching. Is there a way to teach today’s new concept that is always true?