Why Is Middle C So Important?

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Why is Middle C so important? Because it is the center of a kid’s musical universe.

How do I know? I can see inside kid’s heads.

To them, a page of notes is a sea of ants with no rhyme or reason. And the piano keyboard is another mystery to them, and they are expected to find some relationship between the two vastly different graphic systems.

They barely look at the black keys.

You have to get them to look closely at the keys. That is, in fact, the job of the pianist, music aside.

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So Middle C is important because it is the center of the musical universe for kids. Kids need this center, this reference point to navigate the difficulties of sheet music. Home base.

Staff with Middle C

Above is a five lined “staff” with the note Middle C.

Teach the child to be an observer of the staff.

  • How many lines are there?
  • Point to a space.
  • Point to a line.
  • Note that Middle C is on its own, little line.

Middle C

Naming the notes will follow naturally from this familiarity with the staff and keyboard. If they know where C is, D E F and G can’t be far away.

Now get the child to distinguish between Middle C and notes that are on lines or spaces, as in the drawing below:

Notes on lines and spaces

Now take a page of music and ask if notes are on one of three choices:

  • On their own little line (Middle C.)
  • On a space.
  • On a line.

Part of the importance of Middle C is that kids seem to calculate other notes in relation to the “home base” of Middle C.

Going back to numbers, we place the number 1 on the same key as Middle C, because, numbers or notes, it is still the center of the universe.

Numbered keyboard

To begin the process of finding Middle C, look through the page below and find all the Middle C’s you can. I run my index finger under the line of notes, and have the child ring a library bell when they see a Middle C.

Here's a page with lots of Middle C's for you to find.
Find the Middle C’s

In terms of reading music, don’t proceed further until the child unfailingly grasps the idea and look of Middle C.

A prepared child is ready to understand new methods.

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