Musical Alphabet Fun: Forwards, Backwards, Upside Down and Sideways

Since I teach piano students as young as three, I need a lot of tricks up my sleeve for teaching the musical alphabet. Games, manipulatives and worksheets are all part of the picture.

Musical Alphabet Fun Forwards, Backwards, Upside Down and Sideways

Teaching the music alphabet to piano students

But what I hadn’t always thought to do was to sing the musical alphabet. Just like kids sing the full alphabet to Twinkle Twinkle.

In fact I started off using Twinkle Twinkle too…but I didn’t want to cause any confusion. So I thought I better come up a different folk song for us to sing the musical alphabet too.

Musical alphabet blocks

So I tried out other folk songs, having the kids sing the musical alphabet forwards, and then backwards. That was really the key thing I wanted. A good way for them to practice going backwards.

But then I didn’t love that either. I could see conversations later down the road when they learned those pieces, and those weren’t in fact the notes we were singing…

I’ve now landed on a rhythmic chant which I think works great. It’s very simple, but the best ideas often are.

Musical alphabet blocks

We lay out the alphabet blocks in order and I point to each one as we say the chant. You could also use cards or draw the letters on the whiteboard ā€“ anything to build the visual association at the same time.

Repeat ad infinitum or until you starting losing all sense of words. Then repeat again the following week. šŸ˜‰

Musical Alphabet Flipped Learning Video

In theseĀ videos, I teach students the musical alphabet and the piano keys names.Ā Feel free to send theseĀ videos to parents for their kids to watch, use it in group lessons or as part of lab time.

These videos areĀ designed to be clear and concise so that students can watch themĀ ā€“ and then get on with some writing work for reinforcement. Saving you time toĀ do fun activities during the lesson time.

TheseĀ videos correlate directly to Thinking Theory Prep BookĀ pages 1 & 2. View the full Thinking Theory series here and see what makes these workbooks so special.

More Flipped Thinking Theory

If you liked this music theory video, you might also like these others:

How do you teach the musical alphabet?

Do you do anything special to help your students to work backwards through the alphabet? Share your teaching strategies in the Vibrant Music Studio Teachers community on Facebook or in the comments below.

4 thoughts on “Musical Alphabet Fun: Forwards, Backwards, Upside Down and Sideways”

  1. I actually use the tune to the original “Alphabet Song” but made up different words (and motions!) to teach the musical alphabet:
    “A-B-C-D-E-F-G,(March forward, one step per letter)
    These are my piano keys.(pretend to play keyboard)
    Sometimes UP,(reach arms high above head)
    Sometimes DOWN,(touch the floor)
    My alphabet goes round and round! (Spin!)
    G-F-E-D-C-B-A,(March backward, one step per letter)
    Let’s play the piano way!” (Pretend to play keyboard)
    Hope this helps someone! šŸ™‚

  2. I made a poem to the tune of “Twinkle, Twinkle” :

    A B C D E F G – music alphabet up is easy for me.
    Just like the sun comes after the rain,
    After G comes A again.
    ABCDEFG – music alphabet up is fun for me.

    GFEDCBA – I can say it down, the opposite way.
    When I turn it upside down, after A G comes around.
    GFEDCBA – music alphabet down is fun to say


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