Five Minute Line and Space Drills

Making lines and spaces automatic…

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Minute Line and Space Drills

All beginners should start with these drills. For instance, the youngest student I have right now is already playing the lines and spaces of the drill for beginners. At first beginners use a keyboard chart that lines up behind the keys.

The chart is only for the first month or so and is quickly phased out. None of my students use an aid after that to find and name all lines and spaces. We begin using only numbers as in the instructions.

The five lines in both the bass and treble clef are named with the line number: One, two, three, and so on.

Then the spaces, which usually are sitting on a line, are named with the line plus a direction: on one, on two, and so on, with the space below line one as simply “under one”.

A the end are the pages I label “As hard as it gets”, because even advanced musicians are often weak when they get to 5 lines above or below both staves. Music does go that high and low, but usually only in octaves, intervals or chords where the notes are obvious from position and relative placement.

In the future I will continue to add more pages. The beauty of doing music on the computer, in notation programs, is that it costs no more to make a file that is one page long or a hundred. Users can eyeball a very long file and choose what they need to use, then print out only that. For instance, an advanced musician might only want to print out the last two pages, to drill on notes that are way above or below the staves.


6 thoughts on “Five Minute Line and Space Drills

  1. There is so much which is right about this. The randomness means our ears don’t end up predicting so that we are no longer really seeing. Lines only simplifies, because “space notes” are simply between or above/below lines however you want to see it. This “simple” thing has made a great difference in reading for me.

    1. The important thing for my students is, in general, NOT using letters for these. The reason: you start with numbers only, which even very small children can do. At the same time, you play chords and drill on the letter names. When letter names are completely absorbed, they are there. When the numbers for the lines and spaces are absorbed, they are just there. When we play, we don’t think about names. They have to be there, but the trick is just never to miss playing the right keys. Then the names will be present.

      1. In the way I “read” music before, even when I first tried to retrain, I was strangely oblivious to the lines. The fact that there is a middle line, with two above and two below. Ledger lines, actually seeing how many there are. I don’t know why becoming aware of this makes a big difference – letter names did not do that – only that it does.

        1. As you know, the first thing I show people is that there are 5 main lines, and how to line them up with the keyboard in both clefs. Knowing where the middle line is remains the most important thing, because you don’t want to climb up 5 lines – too many steps – or use a mnemonic to get there.

          The other thing is that line 5 is also the top line, and you can start there. You don’t have to count up to 5. You can just know where it is. The way lines and spaces are normally taught is insane.

    1. Thanks, Louie. I know for a fact that two top pianists and teachers are using these drills with their own students. I think none of my students comment on them because they all get them in lessons and perhaps don’t even know they are here.


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