LESSON 2 Musical Alphabet

What you'll learn

Basics of the Musical Alphabet

Casio Privia

Mr. Hoffman's Top Pick for Digital Piano: Casio Privia PX-150

View on Amazon


All posts will be moderated for inappropriate content. We are committed to keeping our website a G-rated, safe place for everyone to learn.

111 Responses

  1. Thank you so much, Mr. Hoffman for these awesome lessons!
    I’d like to ask you a question :
    You are using two musical notations : A B C D E F G, alternatively with the ancient or Latin notation : DO RE MI FA SOL LA SI, predominant in Europe.
    May I ask you why you use the term SO instead of SOL. More usually used in your country ?

    • You are correct that we use two different musical notations: We use the musical alphabet (A B C D, etc.) as a fixed system and Solfege (Do Re Mi, etc.) as a movable or transposable system. Solfege was created by an Italian monk named Guido about a thousand years ago. To more easily teach and transpose melody lines, he named the tones of the scale. Those names came from a chant that began each line one note higher than the line before, from which he took the first syllable of each line. These syllables were just bits of words and don’t literally mean anything themselves: Ut (which later evolved to Do), Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, and La.

      In most American pronunciation, the l at the end of Sol is silent, so Sol and So are pronounced the same anyway. However, when the final l *is* pronounced, I find that it is usually detrimental to the voice quality because of the way the liquid consonant cuts off the lovely open “O” vowel. In my method I’ve actually chosen to remove the l to encourage my students to stick to the open “so” pronunciation. I realize we’re in the minority on this, but I’ve found it to be a successful tactic. Since “sol” is a nonsense syllable to begin with, and “so” still fits into the pattern of Guido’s original chant (just shorter than what he chose), I think he wouldn’t mind. :)

      • Thank you, Mr. Hoffman, for your clear and complete explanation.
        Syllables “do ré mi fa sol la si” are pronounced very differently in both languages: they sound long in English but brief (short?) in French. I understand much better your choice to prioritize voice quality.

    • The piano used in our lessons is a standard 88-key size, but pianos and keyboards with more or fewer keys will often start or end on different keys than what is demonstrated in the video. That’s just fine! :)

  2. Really enjoying your videos, sir! So happy to have found your website. We just got a free piano and are so excited to begin practicing. However, the piano only has 54 keys. Will that be an issue? Thanks so much your reply!

    • Welcome! We’re happy to have you learning with us. Your keyboard should be just fine for now. A few of the finger power exercises and other things demonstrated in the lesson may need slight alterations, but most of what we learn is easily contained within 54 keys (especially in the early units). A more serious concern with smaller keyboards is that they rarely have weighted keys, which are quite important for developing good technique and finger muscles. If possible, I would encourage you to start saving up for a better instrument down the road, but you can certainly get started using what you have. Also, feel free to check out our blog post, “Does My Child Need a Better Instrument?” I hope that helps!

  3. Thank you so much, Mr. Hoffmann for these fantastic lessons. I’m in my 40 and always wanted to learn piano and understand the basics of music theory. May I ask you a brief question? I really like how you visualize what you explain: Do the cards that you use (dot cards in lesson 1.1, alphabet cards, etc.) come along perhaps with the material that can be purchased for Unit 1?

    My little 3yro. enjoys your music lessons too; we watch them and then practice together. His favorite part of your lessons are the puppets at the end :) Thank you so much again for this wonderful opportunity. You are an amazing teacher for all ages!

    • Thanks so much for your feedback! Most of the visuals (or similar versions of those) used in our lessons are included in the PDF files of our supplementary materials, but not all. The materials for Lesson 1 do not have the exact dot cards shown in the video, but do have a lined representation of the notes of “Hot Cross Buns.” The alphabet cards from Lesson 2 are included in our materials, but not quite in the same colors. I hope that helps! Good luck and happy playing. :)

      • this is how much i love it. 100000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000.i have no idea what that number is by the way. anyway, thx!

    • I’m sorry you’re having trouble with our site. If you ever can’t view a lesson, the first thing to check is to visit our YouTube Channel to see if the video works there. If it doesn’t, then the problem is that YouTube is being blocked by your computer or network. If it works on YouTube, please send an email to Support@HoffmanAcademy.com with which video isn’t working, along with what browser and operating system you are using. I hope that helps!

  4. Thank you very much for the grear lessons Mr. Hoffman, I have always wanted to learn to play the piano now i am 27! but it is never too late to learn something new is it :)

    • You’re right – it’s never too late for learning. I’m glad you’re enjoying the lessons and wish you all the best in your piano endeavors!

  5. Hi mr Hoffman. We just started following your lessons and so far we are borrowing a keyboard from a friend. I am waiting to see how my kids do and would like to buy our own. Will it be necessary to buy a real piano or is a keyboard enough? Thank you for these lessons.

    • For piano beginners, there are a lot of good options out there when it comes to digital pianos and keyboards, but there are a few important features to look for. First and foremost, it’s important to have weighted keys: this means that additional resistance has been built into the keys that mimics the feeling of playing on an acoustic piano; this resistance helps beginning finger muscles to develop sufficiently to play on any type of piano or keyboard in the future. Another feature to note is the number of keys: at least 61 keys are required to successfully complete all the songs and lessons in my program.

      We’ve posted an article with more details, as well as expected prices and recommended brands, which you can check out here: http://www.hoffmanacademy.com/blog/choosing-a-piano-or-keyboard-for-the-beginning-student. I hope that helps! – Mr. Hoffman

  6. I even learned something new today! I learned piano in German, and there is no B! It’s H! CDEFGAHC! I totally confused my daughter, didn’t know the US uses “B” as “H”. LOL, so…. there is an H in the musical alphabet! If you go to Europe :)

    • Yes, that would certainly be confusing! I have heard of that notation difference. Do you also use the suffix “is” to indicate a sharp and “es” (only “s” after A and E) for a flat (e.g., Fis for F♯, Ges for G♭, Es for E♭)? – Mr. Hoffman

  7. Thank you Mr. Hoffman! My 8 year-old refused to play the piano and did not want to take any lessons but after watching the first video and being able to play a song by the end he is now very excited! He has completed two lessons this week and is practicing every day he is so excited :0) Thank you so much!

    • You are so welcome! I love hearing that kids enjoy learning with my lessons. That’s what a good balance of challenge, success, and fun can do in any subject! – Mr. Hoffman

  8. I am really eager to learn to play piano. You have a great technique to teach.
    I entend to hang on with you until the last lesson.

  9. I had stopped playing piano for about 8yrs now, but seeing your lessons online, i’ve developed an interest to continue all over again. Thanks


  10. Do black keys also have specific letters to identify them? (i.e The white keys are: A, B, C, D, E, F, G)
    Upon observation, the keys are in a pattern of 2, 3, 2, 3, etc. Do they even need to be identified? One can easily identify them using the white keys’ identifications.
    Thank you in advance.

    • That’s a great question. The black keys are identified relative to the white keys and the key signature you are using. For instance, the two black keys on either side of the white D key are called either C-sharp and D-sharp or D-flat and E-flat. I hope that makes sense. – Mr. Hoffman

      • Yes, it makes perfect sense. (I’ll hopefully be learning those identifications as I progress through your lessons) Thank you.

  11. I love these lessons. I never wanted to learn piano but somehow I got interest in your lessons n now learning piano. I am an adult I I love it. Thanks a lot. I really appreciate.

  12. Hot Cross Buns! My 6 year old daughter received a Schoenberg kid’s piano for her birthday and can’t stop playing it. She asked for piano lessons and I found your site. She really likes your lessons.,She wants to keep going to the next lesson! I am learning how to play the piano also. Now, I will get an electric piano (with weighted keys) to use with your lessons! Thanks so much for this!!

  13. This is AMAZING! I took piano lessons myself for 10 years (discontinued taking lessons 15 years ago though) and had NO idea how to teach my own kids. After doing some research with local piano teachers, my husband laughed when I quoted him $95 + per month per kid. This system is wonderful! Its funny setting the laptop on the piano, but it works! My 5 and 7 year olds are completely engaged and encouraged since its easy enough for them to not feel overwhelmed and to actually accomplish what is taught each week. I have them practice 10 minutes a day with one weekly lesson right now. They also love the puppets at the end of the videos :) Thank you Joseph Hoffman!

  14. I’m having such a great time learning with you Mr. Hoffman I am an adult finally learning how to play, thank you for teaching this program!!!

  15. I really like how you teach. I like the puppets at the end of each lesson. Thank you very much. I can’t wait to go to the next lesson. :) —-Noah

  16. Amazing wonderul great music and piano teacher I’ve ever met. May God bless you! This course is so fun and genius, supercool on the top of the world! Thanks from Australia/Perth.

  17. omg i always wanted to learn piano but its way to expensive so i fond tho and use my iPad omg thank you so much

  18. I am really determined to play the piano! Thank you for helping me by making this easier! “A, B, C, D, E, F, G! A, B, C, D, E, F, G! A, B, C, D, E, F, G! A, B, C, D, E, F, G! ” Psst..my family are wondering why I am chanting this part of the alphabet :)

  19. My 7 yo daughter loves the puppet shows at the end and the piano st. stories. She is enthusiastically learning from you. Thanks you!! From her: “Mr. Hoffman, you are crazy awesome!”

  20. Great lesson! My daughter loves the finger puppets. I love the games we can practice together, especially the application of the games in playing the piano.

  21. Mr. Hoffman, Thank you! I am homeschooling my 7 year old. He had music in school and hated it. We bought him a keyboard for practice and since you’re his teacher, he loves it.

    • These lessons are for anyone who wants to learn! We have both kids and adults using my lessons. Since I teach mostly kids in real life, it may sound like I am talking to kids in my lessons, since that is what I am used to! :)


Leave a reply

Hoffman Academy