Teaching Music Theory to Preschoolers

Preschool music programs teach basic music theory.

Preschool students can begin to learn the basics of music theory provided you introduce the subject matter in a simple and fun manner. Over the course of a year, you can teach preschool children to count quarter, half and whole notes as well as read the basic notes of the musical scale in the treble clef. Learning music theory is a difficult task, so you should introduce the subject in a manner that provides hands-on practice.

Treble Clef

Teach the child to recognize the treble clef. Tell her that the treble clef holds all of the notes that are high in music. It looks like a stylized "G" with a curved tail and a loop that extends around the top lines of the staff. Start by giving her a worksheet that has a picture of a treble clef and then several dotted line examples that will help her draw her own treble clefs. Tell her to take her time and help her trace the treble clef on a sheet of paper to get a feel for it. You can even create a connect-the-dots game to help her learn to draw a treble clef.

Music Notes

Preschool students should start by learning the names of the treble clef. At first, only teach him the names of the spaces on the treble clef. Explain to him that the spaces of the treble clef spell the word face. Place a letter name on each space so that he can see what you are referring to. The bottom space will have an "F," then "A," "C," and finally "E" on the top space. Each week, take one letter away and ask him to identify the spaces on the treble clef. Follow the same process for the names of the lines.


Teach preschoolers about the quarter note first. Start a metronome and explain that every time she hears a click, she plays one quarter note. Tell her to stand up and walk around the room in time to the quarter note. Show her a picture of a quarter note so that she knows what it looks like. Then teach her about half and whole notes. With half notes, they will play on every other beat, with whole notes, they play on every fourth beat. Again, show them what these notes look like.

Music Bingo

Reinforce his knowledge by playing music bingo. Create a four-by-four grid that has a different quarter, half, and whole note music rhythms in each box. You can also create another grid just for the music notes. Place a small staff system with a different note in each box. When you call out a note or play a rhythm, ask him to find the matching item and place a token on top of his card. When he gets four in a row he wins the game.

Rhythm Game

Teach rhythms by clapping or using a drum to beat out a rhythm for the class. Ask the class to repeat the rhythm and then help them figure out how to notate the rhythm. Use very simple rhythms with nothing longer than four beats. As the students improve, divide them into teams to compete with each other. In the competition, you will have each team write down the rhythm you clap on the board. The first team to get the correct rhythm gets a point.


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