Dog in the Dog House: Teaching Keyboard Geography to Young Students

piano keyboard, note naming, dog in dog houseSeveral months ago, I was scrolling through a Facebook Group for Piano Teachers when I came across a story used for teaching beginners the white notes on the keyboard. Teachers were calling it the “Dog in the Dog House” Story.One of the teachers in the group had created the fantastic picture aides in the above photo. With her permission, I’m giving you the link to her DropBox file so you can print these yourself! (Thanks Alyssa!)

When you print the picture file, you can either cut the characters out directly, or cut the lines around them, which are the width of a key on the keyboard.

I laminated mine, then glued a thin backing to them so I don’t lose my pictures between the keys.

Not familiar with the Dog House Story? A quick Google search will show several variations, but most versions go something like this:


Do you see that the keyboard is divided into groups of two black keys and three black keys?  The group of two is smaller and the group of three is larger.

The  larger group of three is like a house. Can you point to the two white notes inside the group of three? That’s like the inside of the house..

The smaller group of two keys is like the little dog house outside of the people house. What kind of animal lives inside the Dog House?


You would then point out that Dog starts with D, so the white key “in the dog house” would be a D. Next comes a Cat, which the Dog hates and will never let inside the dog house.

E is usually an Elephant (which seems a little out of place next to a dog house), so I’ve started telling my students it is the dog’s stuffed elephant toy.

Next, the story moves to “Grandma’s House” (the Dog and Cat belong to Grandma). Grandma lives downstairs. She never goes into the Attic. Grandma’s house also has a Front Door and a Back Door. . .

Once you’ve told the story, have the student repeat it back to you. This has done wonders for my students who struggle with remembering note names! Any time they try to count up from C, I’ll reference the story and they can find the note immediately.

*Note: Sometimes I like to switch the pictures around so Grandma’s House is on the left with the dog house in her backyard, then we practice moving the pictures to different octaves. This helps establish that any group of two black keys could be a “dog house“.

Do you think this story would help your struggling beginners? Click here to go to the creator’s DropBox file for the visual aides.



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