Header image

Just a reminder that today marks the 200th Anniver­sary of The Star Span­gled Banner! On Sep­tem­ber 12, 1814, Fran­cis Scott Key was held pris­oner on a ship. Dur­ing the rainy night, he wit­nessed the bom­bard­ment of Bal­ti­more and observed that the fort’s small “storm flag” con­tin­ued to fly. Once the shell and rocket fire stopped, smoke filled the air mak­ing it impos­si­ble to know how the bat­tle had turned out. In the morn­ing, he could see that the smaller storm flag had been low­ered and a much larger flag had been raised. Although the large flag had been blasted until it was rid­dled with holes, it announced the Amer­i­can vic­tory to the world. Key was so inspired by the sight that he wrote a poem on the back of a let­ter he kept in his pocket. That poem became our National Anthem.

Key Signatures in Major Keys

March 15th, 2014 | Posted by Annette in Educational | Music - (0 Comments)

To view a PDF work­sheet out­lin­ing key sig­na­ture, click on the link: Major Key Sig­na­tures

All musi­cians must learn to iden­tify key sig­na­tures and play within them. In par­tic­u­lar, sight singing requires a clear under­stand­ing of key sig­na­tures. This is because the solfege scale is move­able and stu­dents must learn to find “do.” This is done by iden­ti­fy­ing the key of the song. If a song is in the Key of C Major (no sharps or flats) then “do” is on “C.”

Keys with Sharps

Mem­o­riz­ing the order of the sharps can eas­ily be done by using the fol­low­ing mnemonic device:

Fat Cats Go Down Allies Eat­ing Bananas. (F#, C#, G#, D#, A#, E#, B#)

The name of the key is 1/2 step higher than the last sharp.

For exam­ple, in major keys, if the last sharp is F#, the name of the key is G Major. That means that “do” is “G.”

If the last sharp is C#, the name of the key is D Major. That means that “do” is on “D.”

If the last sharp is G#, the name of the key is A Major. That means that “do” is on “A.”

If the last sharp is D#, the name of the key is E Major. That means that “do” is on “E.”

Keys with flats

Mem­o­riz­ing the order of the flats may be done by using the fol­low­ing mnemonic device:

But Even A Dumb Goat Can Fly. (B flat, E flat, A flat, D flat, G flat, C flat, and F flat)

The key with 1 flat (B flat) must be mem­o­rized. It is the Key of F Major. In the Key of F Major, “do” is “F.”

Sub­se­quent flat keys may be iden­ti­fied by nam­ing the sec­ond to the last flat.

For exam­ple, if I have a key with 2 flats (B flat & E Flat) the sec­ond to the last flat is “B flat.” The name of the key is B Flat Major. That means that “do” is “B flat.”

If I have a key with 3 flats (B flat, E flat, & A flat) the sec­ond to the last flat is “E flat.” The name of the key is E Flat Major. That means that “do” is “E flat.”

If I have a key with 4 flats (B flat, E flat, A flat, & D flat) the sec­ond to the last flat is “A flat.” The name of the key is A Flat Major. That means that “do” is “A flat.”

There has been a lot of inter­est in my scale sheets. As promised, I just added the minor keys. To get to them, sim­ply search under my music stu­dio tab, or you can click HERE

Have a great piano prac­tic­ing day!


I decided it was time to add a scale unit to my web­site. When I’m teach­ing, I gen­er­ally reach for my tat­tered old scale chart and make a copy of it for my stu­dents. It is dif­fi­cult to read AND it’s get­ting old. That’s why I have decided that it’s time for a new and improved solu­tion. As I add these scale/chord work­sheets, I will make a post so that any­one else in need of this resource will get the notice. :D

Scales, Chords, and Arpeg­gios for all key sig­na­tures, begin­ning through advanced studies.

Each work­sheet con­tains: a five fin­ger pattern, primary chord pro­gres­sion, octave scale, con­trary motion scale, 2 octave scale (the same fin­ger­ing as 3 — 4 octave scale), and tonic chord arpeggio. 

* The fin­ger­ings listed fol­low uni­ver­sity standards.


C Major (No sharps or flats): Scales, Chords, Arpeggio

Sharp Keys

G Major (1 sharp): Scales, Chords, Arpeggio

D Major (2 sharps): Scales, Chords, Arpeggio

A Major (3 sharps): Scales, Chords, Arpeggio

E Major (4 sharps): Scales, Chords, Arpeggio

B Major (5 sharps): Scales, Chords, Arpeggio

F Sharp Major (6 sharps): Scales, Chords, Arpeggio

C Sharp Major (7 sharps): Scales, Chords, Arpeggio

 Flat Keys

F Major (1 flat): Scales, Chords, Arpeggio

B Flat Major (2 flats): Scales, Chords, Arpeggio

E Flat Major (3 flats): Scales, Chords, Arpeggio

A Flat Major (4 flats): Scales, Chords, Arpeggio

D Flat Major (5 flats): Scales, Chords, Arpeggio

G Flat Major (6 flats): Scales, Chords, Arpeggio

(Minor keys will be added soon ~ Annette 9.26.13)

Some­times par­ents ask me, “How old does a child need to be to begin music lessons?” In order to answer that ques­tion, it is best to under­stand the devel­op­ing mind.

“Win­dows” for learn­ing coin­cide with child­hood brain devel­op­ment. For exam­ple, the lan­guage win­dow begins to close between the ages of 4 and 6. Prior to the clo­sure of the lan­guage win­dow it is easy for a child to learn a new lan­guage. After the lan­guage win­dow begins to close, it becomes increas­ingly dif­fi­cult to learn a new lan­guage. Learn­ing win­dows do not close all at once, nei­ther do they close com­pletely. If they did, adults wouldn’t be able to learn any­thing new. But the devel­op­ment of the brain that accom­pa­nies learn­ing only hap­pens dur­ing child­hood. (In gen­eral, learn­ing win­dows may be kept open longer by focus­ing on a spe­cific skill set prior to the window’s closure.)

The pitch window

The pitch win­dow coin­cides with the lan­guage win­dow, which begins to close between the ages of 4 and 6. Dur­ing this stage of brain devel­op­ment, the under­stand­ing of pitch may be max­i­mized. This is eas­ily accom­plished by singing and play­ing a musi­cal instru­ment. It is impor­tant to note that a Har­vard Uni­ver­sity study found that exten­sive early child­hood music edu­ca­tion resulted in an increase in size of the cor­pus cal­lo­sum, the bun­dle of nerves that con­nects the hemi­spheres of the brain. This increase has the poten­tial to affect all other areas of learn­ing, par­tic­u­larly math and sci­ence. This is where the baby Mozart idea came from. While the the­ory behind lis­ten­ing is a nice idea for par­ents, the study found that noth­ing can replace actual instru­ment prac­tice. Play­ing an instru­ment forces both hemi­spheres of the brain to work together, com­bin­ing pitch and coör­di­na­tion with abstract thought.

So why doesn’t every­one have their three-year-old in music lessons? This is a com­plex issue that many peo­ple do not under­stand. Young chil­dren have a short atten­tion span and require con­stant super­vi­sion. As a result most teach­ers will not accept stu­dents at this age, thus cre­at­ing a short­age of music teach­ers for the very young. This lack of accep­tance by teach­ers also cre­ates the false assump­tion that music edu­ca­tion for the young does not mat­ter. Com­pound­ing the issue are mis­in­formed par­ents. Another issue is prac­tice. There are very few young chil­dren who will prac­tice with­out an adult at their side. So even those young chil­dren who are tak­ing music lessons may not ben­e­fit com­pletely since their par­ents MUST super­vice at home prac­tice. As a result of these dif­fi­cul­ties, music lessons are fre­quently post­poned until after the pitch win­dow has closed.

Ben­e­fits of catch­ing the pitch window

Per­fect pitch seems to cor­ro­late to homes where music is taught at an early age. It is unclear whether this is because of genet­ics or early expo­sure, or a com­bi­na­tion of both.

Prior to the clo­sure of the pitch win­dow, tone deaf­ness can be eas­ily cor­rected. This is gen­er­ally done by ask­ing the child to sing a pitch, any pitch. The teacher matches their pitch. Then the child is asked to fol­low the teacher as they go up or down, one step at a time. As the child improves, more dif­fi­cult exer­cises can be imple­mented. Singing is an excel­lent way to improve the under­stand­ing of pitch.

After the pitch win­dow closes, tone deaf­ness can fre­quently be cor­rected through­out child­hood, though it may not be as com­plete. Tone deaf­ness can some­times be cor­rected in adults, though it is impor­tant to remem­ber that the process becomes increas­ingly dif­fi­cult with age.

The coör­di­na­tion window

The win­dow for coör­di­na­tion typ­i­cally begins to close between the ages of 10 and 12. It is extremely impor­tant for music stu­dents to begin tak­ing lessons prior to the clo­sure of this win­dow. The ques­tion of pub­lic music edu­ca­tion comes to mind here. In most school dis­tricts, band and orches­tra instruc­tion begins in 5th grade. This is not because it is the opti­mum time for stu­dents to begin their music stud­ies. It is because music edu­ca­tors have to fight to get their pro­grams in the school. On the dis­trict level they have to make it known that if chil­dren don’t get an instru­ment in their hands by this age, IT WILL BE TOO LATE. And as usual, pub­lic music edu­ca­tion is treated by the school dis­trict with a min­i­mal approach. Since that is the age that the win­dow begins to close, that is the age the pub­lic schools begin band and orchestra. 

A stu­dent who begins lessons after the coör­di­na­tion win­dow closes will face increas­ingly dif­fi­cult issues with dex­ter­ity. This is not to say that teenagers and adults can­not learn to play an instru­ment. In gen­eral, teens and adults progress rapidly, par­tic­u­larly in the first year of instruc­tion. The issues that ham­per their progress come with more advanced music and almost always relate to dexterity.

For more infor­ma­tion on music and the devel­op­ing mind visit these websites:

The Power of Sound

The Nurore­port



Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (ver­sion 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Down­load the lat­est ver­sion here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

I have had a few requests for this, so I decided to just make a post. Below is an audio record­ing of “Trea­sure the Light.” I have also included the sheet music, which is avail­able for either solo voice or choir. Both ver­sions have piano accompaniment.

Audio only: Trea­sure the Light Note: to play, click on the link. To down­load, right click and fol­low the direc­tions next to your mouse.

Free Sheet Music: Trea­sure the Light — Solo with Piano Accompaniment

Free Sheet Music: Trea­sure the Light — Arranged for Choir (SSATTB) with Piano Accompaniment

Boise Idaho Temple Celebration

November 20th, 2012 | Posted by Annette in Music | Perspectives - (0 Comments)


I wrote this song in early July, 2012 after a meet­ing with the youth com­mit­tee from the thirty stakes involved in the Youth Cul­tural Cel­e­bra­tion. The lyrics were taken from the youths’ sug­ges­tions for themes. As I lis­tened to them call out their ideas, I real­ized that they would make great lyrics. So I decided to take their ideas and turn them into a song.

Any­how, dur­ing the course of the meet­ing a young man raised his hand and said that the girl next to him had a great idea. She quickly offered her idea, which was, “Just one lit­tle light.” Since the meet­ing was run­ning short, lead­er­ship flet that it was time to close down the brain­storm­ing ses­sion, while I was busy think­ing, “Hey! That’s a great line!” I have no idea who this girl is, but I felt her dis­tinct frus­tra­tion that night — as if she were sure that she felt prompted to speak. Even though I have no idea who she is, her words touched me deeply. As you will notice, I used her thought as the first line in the song. I don’t know if she’ll ever notice my appre­ci­a­tion for speak­ing up. Life is a strange that way. Some­times we never see the reper­cus­sions of our actions. But I am glad that she shared.

High­lighted in this record­ing are the fol­low­ing artists:

Katie John­son, Annie John­son, Mor­gan Coo­ley, Gabby Genta, Lexie Jepp­son, Melinda Harper, Christina Walker, Haylee Jones, Gabby Ririe, Joy Pur­nell, Steven Mackey, Spencer Mad­sen, Austin Peery, Jake Thibault, Masen Thomp­son, Tan­ner Myler, and Cade Ander­son. Thanks you guys! You were GREAT!

This song played dur­ing the pre­lude por­tion of the Youth Cul­tural Cel­e­bra­tion for the Boise Tem­ple, which was per­formed on Novem­ber 17, 2012 in the Taco Bell Arena. It was such an honor to be involved in this event. Thank you to every­one who participated!


Music Blog

February 9th, 2012 | Posted by Annette in Music | Perspectives - (0 Comments)

For those who are new to this site, the music stu­dio tab is where I post music edu­ca­tion mate­ri­als. Believe it or not, it takes me a lot more effort to write these work­sheets than it does for my stu­dents to com­plete them. So you might won­der why I spend all that time cre­at­ing them — as you can see I have posted a lot! The answer is sim­ple. Although there are many fab­u­lous music method books cur­rently avail­able, most do not offer suf­fi­cient prac­tice, espe­cially with regards to rhythm. It’s a gripe a lot of teach­ers have. Don’t ask me why there are so few method books address­ing this issue. It cer­tainly doesn’t change the need. Rhyth­mic pro­fi­ciency is one of the great­est obsta­cles in a student’s abil­ity to sightread, and ulti­mate goal of inde­pen­dence. So I’ve done my part, small as it may seem. Print and prac­tice. That’s all there is to it.

The Stoning of the Organist

January 10th, 2012 | Posted by Annette in Music | Perspectives - (0 Comments)

I have often laughed at this poem, and thought oth­ers might enjoy it too. I think only an organ­ist can truly appre­ci­ate just how funny this really is. We’re told by var­i­ous con­gre­ga­tion mem­bers, who are all talk­ing about the same song, “That was too loud. It was too soft, too slow, too fast.”  Hahaha. Just makes me laugh. Espe­cially the part about the vari­a­tions. Just let me say this now … I’d love to throw in a lot more of that, but as writ­ten below, it just “con­fuseth” everyone.


Acts chap­ter 29 By Gar­ri­son Keillor.

1. And it came to pass, when Paul was in Corinth, he and cer­tain dis­ci­ples came upon a mob that was ston­ing an organist.

2. And Paul said unto them, “What then hath he done unto thee that his head should be bruised?”

3. And the peo­ple cried with one voice, “He hath played too loud!

4. Yea, in the singing of the psalms, he maketh our heads to ring as if they were beaten with hammers.

5. Behold, he sit­teth up high in the loft, and mighty are the pipes and mighty is the noise thereof, and though there be few of us below, he none the less playeth with all the stops, the Assyr­ian trum­pet stop and the stop of the ram’s horn and the stop that soundeth like the saw­ing of stone, and we can­not hear the words that cometh out of our own mouths.

6. He always tos­seth in vari­a­tions that con­fuse us might­ily and he playeth loud and dis­cor­dant and always in a mil­i­tant tempo, so that we have not time to breathe as we sing.

7. Lo, he is a plague upon the faith and should be chas­tised.” Paul, hear­ing this, had him­self picked up a small stone, and was about to cast it, but he set it down, and bade the organ­ist come forward.

8. He was a nar­row man, sal­low of com­plex­ion, with dry skin, flak­ing and thin of hair.

9. And Paul said unto him, “Why hath thou so abused thy brethren?”

10. And the organ­ist replied, “I could not hear them singing from where I sat, and there­fore played the louder so as to encour­age them.”

11. And Paul turned round to the mob and said loudly, “Let him who has never played an organ cast the first stone.”

12. And they cast stones for a while until their arms were tired and Paul bade the organ­ist repent and he did.

13. And Paul said unto him, “Thou shalt take up the flute and play it for thirty days, to cleanse thy spirit,” and after­ward they returned to Corinth and sang psalms unac­com­pa­nied and then had cof­fee and were refreshed in the faith.

Silent Night

December 2nd, 2011 | Posted by Annette in Music - (0 Comments)

I wrote this arrange­ment back in 1993 when I was direct­ing church choir. If any­one still has the old ver­sion, you may notice that I changed the key to make the arrange­ment more suit­able for guitarists.

Sheet music: Silent Night SATB, Piano, Organ, optional Gui­tar PDF file.