Note-Naming Worksheets - Reading Music Notes for Beginners
NOTE NAMING WORKSHEETS ought to be more fun than just worksheets. These ones are, because they are real songs and pieces that kids love. With "made easy" notes - keyboard music notes with names, these are songs the kids actually want to play.
Are lettered notes like a "gateway drug", risking the possibility that your students will never learn to read music properly? On the contrary, in the early stages of note-reading, not only can many tears can be avoided and the reward of playing actual music be reached, but understanding of the up-and-down movement of notes on the staff is reinforced!
I enjoy seeing students dive excitedly into a new piece and follow the lettered notes carefully, especially in the "helper" versions, where only a few tricky notes or measures are lettered. I'm excited for you to see your students accept new music more willingly, too!
Most of the pieces on this page are beginner level, with a melody shared by both hands, but a few are more challenging, such as part 1 of Für Elise, with the original notes, The Lake Pirates, and also a LONG VERSION of the Pachelbel Canon (not the one featured directly below...).
Here are all the AlphaNote songs so far:
All the Pretty Little Horses - a lullaby with an interval span that works easily in Middle C position. This is very pretty, especially with secondo chords supplied by a duet partner, with 3 repeating lines!
Amazing Grace - the famous song written by a reformed slave trader, John Newton
Arabian Dance, from the Nutcracker - mesmerizing and atmospheric! This is the most approachable of the melodies from Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker Suite"
Ash Grove - a song from Wales that describes the happiness of being with the beloved one... this is a famous old song with a arching melody line.
Beethoven's 5th Symphony - the famous 4-note motif that even kids know is what makes this piece so engaging & exciting!
Bingo - "There was a farmer, had a dog, and Bingo was his name-o!" This song may drive you CRAZY, but it might be just what one of your students likes!
Blow, Ye Winds in the Morning, a sailor's song about whaling, with an engaging old tune - helper version
Cat Came Back - several different arrangements - this song with hilarious lyrics (to kids) can be simplified down to just 5 notes
Come Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy (a Sacred Harp melody) - an old melody with old-fashioned words describing the condition of mankind
Deck the Halls With Boughs of Holly, an alphanote helper - a very popular Christmas carol
Egyptian Dance helper version - a beautiful melody that uses an unusual scale to achieve its mysterious atmosphere
Erie Canal Song - a popular tune about an older time in America, when mules pulled barges along the Erie Canal
Erie Canal with 2 hands, helper version
First Noel - the story of the first Christmas
First Noel with helper notes (only a few alphanotes)
Found a Peanut - every kid needs to learn this silly song by-and-by!
Für Elise, beginner version - just the notes of the well-known theme, written around the notes beginners learn first, around middle C
Für Elise original version, part 1 only, with helper notes - the actual notes of Beethoven's famous work
Fuzzy Wuzzy - a cute and simple song about a bear with no hair
Fuzzy Wuzzy helper version
God is So Good, a simple song about God that uses just 5 notes; the challenge comes in the "skips" or thirds that make up the melody
God is So Good with chords
God Rest You Merry Gentlemen - an old English Christmas carol
God Rest You Merry Gentlemen, alphanotes helper
Greensleeves (What Child is This melody) - one of the oldest & most beloved melodies still played today
Greensleeves chords & melody, lettered notes & helper notes
Haida, a singing round from Israel - full of energy and opportunities for clapping, this is a favorite of my singers
Happy Birthday - this is a difficult melody, but many of your students are likely to want to play it; lettered notes will help them learn it faster.
Happy Birthday with chords, alphanotes helper
Hark How the Bells beginner arrangement, alphanotes helper - this is the famous Ukrainian Bell Carol, also known as "Carol of the Bells."
Hark How the Bells elementary, a helper version
Have You Seen the Ghost of John - this is an amazingly LOVELY vocal round that has very silly words
Hungarian Dance - perhaps Brahms's favorite of his Hungarian Dances, this theme is full of fire!
I'm a Pirate - a minor melody with strong intervals, repeated phrases, and exciting lyrics (for young boys at least)
Indian Dance - one of the FAVORITE beginner songs, in which strong drumming open chords can be added a few weeks after conquering the melody
Indian Dance helper - only a few lettered notes
Irish Wedding - this whirlwind of a melody is in 3/4 time, which makes it hard at first, but once students learn this song, they LOVE IT.
Irish Wedding "Helper" - just a few alphanotes
Irish Wedding longer, helper version
Jingle Bells - beginners will welcome this familiar Christmas tune into their repertoire.
Jolly Old Saint Nicholas helper version - this Christmas song can sound cheery or beautiful, depending on the way a duet player adds chords
Kum Ba Yah - the sweet melody asking God to be close and to hear prayer
Kum Ba Yah helper version
Lake Pirates helper version - OH BOY. This song is EPIC. Sounding much harder than it is (because of octave changes and left hand chord pattern changes), this 3-page song is a favorite of boys and girls alike. No lyrics, just a strong melody with chords.
Lavender's Blue - a pretty melody with charming lyrics, this is an old folk song, or even nursery tune. In the Kenneth Branaugh production of "Cinderella", the prince hears Cinderella singing this song and thereby is able to rescue her (Find my Lavender's Blue page and you & your student can watch two videos - the song from the movie, and the movie trailer).
Lavender's Blue helper version
Louie Louie - once students can reliably find & form triads, they are ready for this "song," which is really just an exercise that sounds like Louie Louie. Why would they want to? I want them to understand the I-IV-V chords relationships, and THEY want to because is fun and sound COOL!
Mary Had a Little Lamb - despite being common and universal, kids still want to know this song. I make sure they know it WELL so that they can get started with simple chord practice.
Mary Had a Little Lamb alphanotes helper
Minka alphanotes helper, a folk song from Ukraine
Monsters Everywhere, a Halloween song that builds suspense even though it mostly moves by steps
Monsters Everywhere, with just a few helper notes
Morning Has Broken - a beautiful melody made famous years ago by Cat Stevens
O Christmas Tree (O Tannenbaum) - a well-loved carol from Germany
O Holy Night - long and difficult and quite beautiful, a carol about the wonderful night the Saviour of the world was born
Ode to Joy - Beethoven's most famous song ever; all children should know this 5-finger melody!
Ode to Joy, helper version - just a few lettered notes in the song
Old Joe Clark - this American melody with the silly words is extra fun when a duet partner adds boogie chords
Pachelbel Canon in D piano sheet for beginners - just the melody, needing a duet partner for this famous piece
Pachelbel Canon in D sheet music long and fancy version - this is melody AND chords, a solo! It includes the intricate fast-moving portion that is so pretty
Pizza Please (Hot Cross Buns) for right or left hand - perhaps the easiest song ever?
Sharks - this short song builds tension with only 3 different notes, and will remind you of the theme of "Jaws"
Sharks - the same music, but dressed up with dynamic markings!
Silent Night duet with helper notes - this Christmas carol arrangement has rolling chords in the secondo, and the melody in the primo
Slumber My Darling - this sweet lullaby by American Stephen Foster is especially for singers
Spanish Ladies, an old British sea shanty - boys & girls alike enjoy singing this energetic song!
Star of the County Down - a favorite at my studio with pianists, guitarists, & fiddlers, this Irish song is so fun to play!
Star of the County Down helper version - just a few lettered notes
Take Me Out to the Ballgame - this energetic old favorite spans an octave and also has accidentals, but alphanotes makes them easier
Tarantelle - this engaging minor melody about a spider uses just 5 notes. It is an alphanotes helper
The B-I-B-L-E - yes, that's the book for me! The popular children's Sunday school song
This Old Man - everybody knows this "knick - knack - paddy-whack" song. Only 6 notes, like Twinkle Little Star.
Toccata by Johann Sebastian Bach, introduction: this is the dramatic organ piece that makes us think of villains! and excitement!
Toccata, very short and simple - just the first 9 notes, repeated in different octaves
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star - as easy as it comes!
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star helper (just a few notes with letters)
Up on the Housetop the Reindeer Pause - a fun Christmas song with a span of 6 notes.
Up on the Housetop the Reindeer Pause, in the key of C (more singable for children)
Wabash Cannonball - a great song about a train that travels all across the USA
Wabash Cannonball melody, helper
Wabash Cannonball Secondo - add these boogie chords to give some energy to this song!
Waltzing Matilda - this very pretty song from Australia is not too hard for a first-year student, with letters in the noteheads!
Waltzing Matilda with helper notes is also easy, and a good challenge for a beginning reader
We Wish You a Merry Christmas - this carol is perfect for the weeks leading up to Christmas!
We Wish You a Merry Christmas, late elementary arrangement, helper notes - give your student a bit of extra help to nudge them along with this song
What Child is This, lettered notes & helper notes - this is the same tune as Greensleeves, but with beautiful words about the birth of the baby Jesus
What Do You Do with a Drunken Sailor - if parents are okay with this song (lyrics ask what to do with the sailor), it can be very fun, as this is a great melody!
What Wondrous Love - a beautiful old song from the Shape-notes tradition, that asks what kind of love could cause the Lord of Bliss to die for us
White, Orange & Green (for singers) - a fabulous song about love for one's country, with an engaging melody. Not really for beginners, but I do give it to pianists as a lead sheet for chord work.
Wiegenlied, sometimes called "Mozart's Cradle Song", for singers
Yo Ho Ho, a fun song about life on the sea, set in A minor around the Middle C area
Yes, I've scoffed at this shortcut approach. Not anymore. What I've seen is that kids are much more willing to take on a new piece of music if there is a bit of help - or a lot of help - there. They are playing MORE music!
Plus, their interpretation of the "up" and "down" movement of the notes is reinforced - or corrected. A bit like a video game, this is an instant feedback system that really helps even with familiar melodies. I have seen this with my students!
I've had lots of people request music with the note names on it to help them learn piano notes. Today I gave "All the Pretty Little Horses", AlphaNote version, to a young beginner, and smiled to hear her persevere past the skips in the melody. (Those skips always trip them up.)
My young beginning readers and even pre-readers dive into this music:
Download All the Pretty Little Horses with easy-to-read keyboard music notes
It will be fun to see how it goes... reading music notes for beginners is a long process, in any case, and I'm hoping this encourages the learning of more songs, more quickly, rather than a reliance on the little letters inside the note-heads. Maybe it will end up being like guitar tablature - the kids fight every step of the way against reading standard notation! But I don't think so.
I do want to caution you about ONLY giving lettered-notes songs to your students. You must continually be moving them along the reading road. The day may come when you realize they aren't looking at the direction of the noteheads, or learning patterns, but struggling only to read the tiny letters inside the notes. That actually slows them down. These AlphaNote songs should be more like candy, eventually - an easy snack.
On the first two songs I made in this collection, Mary Had a Little Lamb and All the Pretty Little Horses, I just went ahead and put AlphaNotes - piano music with letters - in every measure, but that was because I was just getting to know this software. I think what I'm actually headed toward is just supplying the names of the first note of each hand, or perhaps the first measure.
I'll be listing new additions to the "AlphaNote Repertoire" here on this page.
My 13-year-old student loves House of the Rising Sun because he thinks it sounds like Star Wars music! Thank you for this amazing resource! Dana: Hi,
Greetings from Australia. I loved your posting on the beautiful Irish tune 'Slane'(Be Thou My Vision). The descriptions of the versions in different keys
Down by the Salley Gardens is a pretty English song with poetic words by William Butler Yeats. Download piano & vocal & lead sheets in several keys!
How to teach voice lessons, when you are a beginning teacher? Get some tips to quell your fears at this new venture!
Toccata from the opera L'Orfeo, an arrangement of the vigorous brass ensemble for piano ensemble, FREE!
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