I was discussing piano and keyboard lessons with my 80-year-old aunt the other day; she learned to play the piano as a child and now teaches keyboard in small groups. We were on the subject of mnemonics and she came up with a few I hadn’t heard before.
As I mentioned in Reading Music – the ones I was taught as a child include the word ‘FACE’ for notes in treble clef spaces, initial letters of ‘Every Good Boy Does Fine’ for notes on the lines, ‘All Cats Eat Goldfish/All Cows Eat Grass” (for notes in bass clef spaces) and ‘Good Boys Don’t Fool About’ for notes on bass lines.
She didn’t argue with any of these – but did have some mnemonics I’d never heard before to help her remember the order of sharps and flats. (My own versions of these are in the article on Piano Examinations: Scales). For the sharps, she’d been taught: “French Cats Growl Dreadfully And Eat Birds” and for the flats: “Be Every At Duty Going Cautiously Forward”.
As I said to her, these phrases don’t exactly roll off the tongue (particularly the second one!): piano learners must have had it tough in ‘the olden days’!!