Music Terms For Mystics

from Nick Page

Downbeat: 1st beat of a measure

Pick-Up: the note or phrase before a measure starts.

Pencil = amazing invention that makes people better singers

Staff: the five lines upon which music is written

Staves: plural of Staff

Measure: bar lines separate each staff into measures

System: when 2 or more staves are connected by a bar line, they become a system.

Memory: something that is useful, but not as useful as a pencil.

Clef: the clef goes at the left end of each staff telling us whether we are singing high pitches or low pitches.

Treble (G) Clef: used by Sopranos and Altos (and occasionally Tenors and basses who would sing the pitches an octave lower)

Tenor Clef: looks like a Treble Clef but has the number “8” under it indicating it is an octave lower.

Bass (F) Clef: used by Basses and Tenors.

Tempo & Dynamic Markings: markings that tell us how fast or slow (tempo) or how loud and soft (dynamics).

Ledger Lines: when a pitch is written above or below a staff, a short horizontal ledger line is used.

Sharp: an accidental (#) that raises a pitch by a half step

Flat: an accidental ( b ) that lowers a pitch by a half step

Natural Sign: an accidental (#) that cancels a sharp or flat

Markings: something we do with a pencil so we don’t make the same mistake twice.

Key Signature: at the beginning of each staff there will be a pattern of either sharps or flats (or none) that tell us what the first note of the scale is.

No sharps or flats is the key of C or A minor
One sharp is the key of G or E minor
Two sharps is D or Bm
Three sharps is A or F#m
Four sharps is E or C#m
Five sharps is B or G#m

Relative Minor — Every major scale has a minor scale that shares the same key signature.

One flat is the key of F or Dm
Two flats is Bb or Gm
Three flats is Eb or Cm
Four flats is Ab or Fm

Good Musician: someone who uses a pencil

Time Signature: tells us two things. The top number tells us how many beats are in a measure. The bottom number tells us whether a quarter note (4) or an eighth note (8) gets the beat. So 4 over 4 would mean four quarter notes per measure.

Melodic Interval: the distance between a pitch and the pitch heard before or after it. An “A” pitch going to a “C” pitch would an interval of a third. Count the A as 1 and count up to C (1, 2, 3). Later on you can learn about the differences between major and minor intervals.

Harmonic Interval: in a chord like an A minor chord you would have three vertical pitches that are all heard at the same time. Because it is an A minor chord, the “root” of the chord would be an A. The next pitch would be a C (third higher). Then a third above that (the E).

Good Rehearsal: a rehearsal where the same mistakes don’t have to be fixed over and over – a rehearsal where singers use their pencils.


Pair of glasses = watch the conductor

< (nick name is hairpin) = getting louder

> =  getting softer

Upward Arrow =  the next pitch is higher

Downward Arrow = the next pitch is lower

Onward Arrow ——>  = the next pitch is the same

Smiley Face = remember to smile with your eyes

Simply circling something is a helpful reminder

Other phrases:

Don’t Sing Here, Sing Here, Same Pitch, Use Pencil, Accent, Short, Soft, Loud, Wait, Count, Smile, Be Nice,

Don’t Forget to Sharpen my Pencil.