The traditional approach to teaching note names using mnemonics* such as “Every Good Boy Does Fine” doesn’t work for everyone. It does have its uses, but it takes too much time to figure out which sentence applies to which set of notes, then the time taken to work through the words to find the note that’s needed. This forces the brain to process so much information at one time that is it any wonder that students struggle? The best approach would be to make a concerted effort to memorize 3 notes per day, and flash cards are ideal for this. It does take a tremendous amount of patience and discipline, but it can be done if you’re committed. The other approach is to memorize one note in particular, such as middle C in the treble clef, and then count up alphabetically from there, which will involve counting every line and space. The advantage of this method is that the more you do it, you will memorize other notes along the way without even realizing it, and then you will be able to count up from those notes instead of middle C. As far as bass clef, start by counting from the bottom line which is G (think Ground floor) and go from there. It’s a lot easier for students to memorize just two notes and always count from them, rather than to remember four sentences such as Every Good Boy Does Fine. Counting up is slow at first, but with practice, it can be done very quickly and bear in mind that this technique is only a stepping stone. When reading music, we need to be able to recognize a note in a fraction of a second and then translate what we’ve seen into a finger movement. As you advance, you will notice that you no longer think about letter names while you’re playing because there is no time to do so. You will start to see clusters of notes and read them as one. Just as you no longer need to sound out the letters D O G because you see it as one unit, you will no longer have to struggle through notes one at a time.
A mnemonic (pron.: /nəˈmɒnɨk/, with a silent “m”), or mnemonic device, is any learning technique that aids information retention. Mnemonics aim to translate information into a form that the human brain can retain better than its original form. Even the process of applying this conversion might already aid the transfer of information to long-term memory.
. . . . . Studies (notably “The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two“) have suggested that the short-term memory of adult humans can hold only a limited number of items; grouping items into larger chunks such as in a mnemonic might be part of what permits the brain to hold a larger total amount of information in short-term memory, which in turn can aid the creation of long-term memories.