A Big One-Minute Club Update (Including Two Free Landmark Note Downloads!)

Are you looking for a way to help your students learn their notes on the staff in a fun way? Consider implementing the One-Minute Club in your studio!

This program focuses on the skill of naming and playing the notes on the music staff in one minute or less. 

Four years ago, I first shared all the nitty-gritty details on how I run this program in my studio. If you haven’t read that post, you might consider reading it first before reading this post!

Even if you have already read the original post, I would strongly suggest you check it out again as I just did a HUGE OVERHAUL of the original post and packed it full of even more great information!

Read the original post: One-Minute Club Note-Naming Challenge

Over the past couple of years, I’ve been playing around with some changes to the leveling I use for this challenge.

In this post, I’ll share details on the new levels, why I made the switch, and tell you a little more about my new display board you see above.

Plus, I have two free downloads for you! One is a beautiful landmark note visual aid and the other a downloadable resource for running your own challenge.

Do you teach online? You might check out The One-Minute Club Goes Virtual!



Out with the Old

My old leveling system included six levels and was based on a combination of teaching note names using landmark notes and the skips-alphabet (the system used by the Piano Safari method).

Level 1 [8 Notes]
Landmarks Low C, Bass C/F, Middle C(x2), Treble G/C, and High C

Level 2 [12 Notes]
Grand staff space notes (Low F to High G)

Level 3 [12 Notes]
Grand staff line notes (Low G to High F including Middle C)

Level 4 [24 Notes]
All grand staff notes (levels 2 and 3 combined)

Level 5 [12 Notes]
Ledger lines: Low CDE, middle ledgers DEF above Middle C, treble ledgers GAB below Middle C, and High ABC

Level 6 [36 Notes]
Grand staff + ledger lines (levels 4 and 5 combined)

P.S. If this is a system that works for you, that’s GREAT!

Want a free downloadable PDF listing each six levels? Grab it from the original post: One-Minute Club Note-Naming Challenge


Why I Made A Change

After years of using this system and teaching my students note names via the skips alphabet, I found quite a few students were still struggling to name the notes quickly. They were continuously counting from the bottom to the top of the staff using the skips [F-A-C-E-G-B-D for spaces or G-B-D-F-A-C-E for lines].

After a while, this system didn’t feel a whole lot better than the mnemonics system that has students simply memorize the letter names using silly phrases like “All Cows Eat Grass”. (Using mnemonics is actually a quite random way of learning the note names and makes no reference to how the staff is actually laid out.)

On top of that, since some students might only cover one level in a year, having them focus on just space or line notes in one level didn’t feel like enough.

While I still teach the skips alphabet and think it’s a wonderful way to “make sense” of how the bass and grand staffs come together and show the patterns of the notes on the staff, it’s no longer the way I emphasize mastering the note names.


In with the New

Landmark notes have always made 100% sense to me. All-in-all, the student is not only learning another important pattern of how the bass and treble staves mirror each other, but all they have to remember is 12 notes. From there, it’s simply a matter of going up or down a step or skip from any given note.

Thus, I now have 5 levels with each one adding on landmark notes and expanding from the inside to the outside of the staff.

Level 1 | Bass F to Treble G [10 notes]

  • 3 Landmarks: Bass F + Middle C (x2) + Treble C
  • All notes between Bass F and Treble G

Level 2 | Bass C to Treble C [16 notes]

  • 6 Landmarks: Bass C/F + Middle C (x2) + Treble G/C
  • All notes between Bass C and Treble C

Level 3 | All notes on Grand Staff [24 notes]

  • 8 Landmarks: Low F + Bass C/F + Middle C (x2) + Treble G/C + High G
  • All notes between Low F and High G

Level 4 | Ledger Lines (outer and inner) [16 notes]

  • 8 Landmarks: Low C/F + Middle C(x2) + Ledger F above and ledger G below Middle C + High G/C
  • All notes between Low C/F, Middle C/Ledger F, Ledger G/Middle C, High G/C

Level 5 | All notes including ledgers [36 notes]

  • 12 Landmarks: Low C/F+ Bass C/F + Middle F/C(x2)/G + Treble G/C + High G/C
  • All notes between Low C and High C including the inner middle ledgers


Free Downloads

To give you some good visuals to use for your own One-Minute Club challenge, I have two free downloads for you today!

The first is a two-page visual resource that will highlight the landmark notes on the staff. Print it off and laminate one copy to use in all your lessons or print off copies for each of your students


The second is a one-page printout that lists these five levels as well as steps for quizzing, rules, and prizes for a studio-wide challenge.

If you would like to use this document to get started but would like to make some changes to customize it to your own studio, please contact me and I’ll send you a Word document version.


Updated Display

My former display was an old corkboard covered in white cardboard. (Read more about the details on this board here.)


My new board is a 20″x30″ foam board (1/2″ thick) from Walmart.

The grid where I track their names and scores is cut out from a full-size incentive chart.

As per the advice of guest writer Christina Whitlock and her Varsity Musician’s series, I wanted to display the annual winners in a way that really made it feel special.

I purchased a simple black photo mat from Amazon and imported images of the students into Canva, overlaying a simple text box at the bottom of each photo. The photo mat is attached to the foam board with little velcro dots.

Rather than just setting it on the floor by the piano as I have for years, I really wanted to display it so it felt prominent and important for the weeks during the challenge but didn’t want to make it a permanent fixture on my wall.

I finally invested in a cheap easel. Doesn’t it look cool? 🙂

The easel is the A-Frame Studio Floor Easel from Hobby Lobby. While it’s originally $30, if you wait until they run a sale on art easels and tables, you can get it for $15.

Cheers to learning note names!



Do you teach online?

You might be interested in this follow-up post:

The One-Minute Club Goes Virtual!


Did you enjoy this post?

Consider subscribing to the Piano Pantry email list. You’ll get my once-a-month “Secret Letter” which includes what’s been going on in my studio that month, new posts on the blog, books I’m reading, favorite Instagram posts, and other fun things like that. 

Sound good?! Subscribe here.




  • Hi Amy, I have been in the process of unsubscribing from ‘piano teaching emails’! However, you will always remain!!! Your ideas and generosity are truly so exceptional…. it’s time for me to step up and express a very, very heartfelt thank you for allll you contribute to the world of piano teachers!!!!!

    • Aw, I am so super touched by this, Leona. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you taking a moment to share that with me!!! <3

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *