So while I actually didn’t explain this to a 5-year old (because I didn’t have one lying around!), I do have access to a 2-year-old and I imagined myself explaining this to him so if you detect a higher pitch in my writing than usual, that’s why! I have already discussed what the notes on the guitar are. Now we will further explore the question, What Is A Note?
This is a simple yet vital concept to grasp. Understanding notes are understanding the building blocks of every single piece of music you will ever play or hear. When you can hear every note and how they work well together in chords and scales you gain a new appreciation for music.
If I need to talk to you or tell you (the non-baby) something, I will do it in normal font and when addressing the baby I will use Italics.
Musical Note – Engage Baby Voice!
To simplify the concept, a musical note is 2 things. (holds up two fingers)
- A Noise/Sound (flaps ears)
- Picture about the noise or sound. (points to eyes)
These two ideas become the same thing to a musician but we will break them down to make it even easier. I say they become one because musicians relate the note symbol (picture) to the sound of the note and also relate the sound to the note name or symbol (picture).
1. The Noise – (For Your Little Ears)
The noise is not a bad noise (or shouldn’t be at least!) It shouldn’t hurt your ears and should actually sound good. This noise can be many things, like:
- A High Sound (clinks a water glass) or a Low Sound (taps on full cookie tin) – Pitch
- The Sound can be a Loud Sound (speaks loudly) or Soft Sound (speaks quietly) – Volume
- The Sound can take a Long Time to finish (walks around slowly) or a Short Time (runs around quickly) – Duration
2. The Picture – (For Your Little Eyes)
Every note has a name, and a face (picture) and a special sound. (makes funny faces). The picture will tell you about the Sound. It can tell you:
- What Sound to play – Note
- How long to play the note.- Duration
- How Loud or Soft to play the note – Volume/Accent
- When to play what – Note position in the song
- How fast to play – Tempo
Play Time – I Love It When A Song Comes Together!
Every note is like Lego blocks. They may look similar but each one has its own colour and shape. The Lego block fit together to make up a big thing. The big thing can be a robot or a dinosaur or a castle or anything you can imagine in your head (pointing to my own head as an example).
If you change out the blocks, the shape, size and colour of the big thing. This is how music works also! You can use the same types of blocks to build millions of big things, and they can be the same or different than the last big thing.
The note is the simplest building block of music, combining notes ultimately results in a song or composition (the big thing). Like the example with the lego blocks, changing out individual Blocks (notes) changes the overall shape and feel of the big thing (the song).
This is how you can create unique songs using the same notes that have existed for hundreds of years!
Summary – For The Not So Young Baby (I Mean You!)
To put it in a concise way for an adult to understand A Note is a musical element that possesses a fixed pitch and duration. A note is the most basic unit found in music. It is required to formulate all scales, chords and songs. The note is essential for musical life to exist and continue existing past our lifetime.
Notes are individual and unique, yet when they come together they can create something that is greater than all of them on their own. Notes are truly a valuable component of every song and therefore should be understood completely. A note is as unique as a person because they all have unique attributes and qualities.
Notes are precious gems. Each one of them is shiny and valuable and when you put them together they are called treasure. There are probably many metaphors that can be used to describe Notes and their importance but these seem to be the most fitting ones to me at this time.
The Importance of Notes – Here I go Again!
Now that you know what notes are and their use, I am able to tell you a bit more. It is not necessary for you to learn all the notes or musical theory about and on your instrument respectively. According to me though, learning these notes and their positions on your instrument are the best way to make steady progress.
Once you know all these notes on a personal level (their names and Pitches and Duration) you will be able to see how the piece fit together and ultimately this will make your life easier. I encourage you to learn these notes. Learn one a day or one a week if you need to!
In the long run, this knowledge will give you a huge skill boost as you will understand what you are playing rather than just relying on muscle memory (which is great, but also less efficient).
Play Time – For You This Time, Not The Baby!
Well, my friends, you have made it to the end of this baby explanation. I am not sure if he understands a word I have just said but hopefully, you do! The question “What Is A Note” can generally be quite intimidating because of all the technical (and possibly new or foreign words) language.
My aim was to literally explain this to a baby because I doubt you could make the language any more basic than that. I hope that this approach has made it easier for you to grasp the concept of Musical Notes. You asked me “What Is A Note”, and I have answered to the best of my ability.
Keep well friends, and make sure to eat your veggies! 🙂