Are Lines Really Lines?

Notes are written on lines and in spaces

“On” means to be physically in contact with and supported by a surface:

  • sit on a fence
  • lie on a bed
  • run on a path
  • write a note on a line

“In” means to be surrounded by something else:

  • park our car in a parking space between two lines
  • stand in a doorway with the door frame on either side
  • write a note in a space between lines

Writing Words on a Line vs. Notes on a Staff

In music notation, writing notes on lines is actually the opposite of how we write words on lines.



It's important for teachers to be aware that something so obvious to us musicians may be confusing to children without them even knowing they're confused.

The song "I'm a Note" simplifies learning this concept. It’s cute, easy to learn, and fun to sing. Once students know this song, they write lines and spaces without hesitation or confusion.