Nashville Number System: A Love Story

I love the Nashville Number System.  No, really -- I LOVE the Nashville Number System!

When I was a young girl growing up in the Philadelphia area, my guitar-teacher father taught me that numbers could be used as a universal language to represent chords in any key.  Numbers can also represent the notes of the scale (do re mi = 1 2 3, etc.) to help singers learn and notate melodies as well as harmonies.  To this day I hear, think, and understand music first in numbers, and then in letters.

When I came to Nashville and saw everyone using those beautiful numbers for chord charts, I knew I had found my tribe!  And the first time I saw a demo singer marking up a lyric sheet with little numbers to help him learn the song on the spot, I fell head over heels in love!  Nashville has always been mainly a guitar town, and guitar-players use the capo to play in different positions, so we really need a way for musicians to communicate -- the Nashville Number System is the answer.

Whether I'm helping students get over their math-phobia by showing them how numbers will help them find the chord their ears want to hear, or organizing harmony parts with my band, Queen of Hearts, I appreciate more than ever how numbers will make you a better musician, help you write your song, and set you free from the limitations of rote learning.

Nashville Number System, I will love you forever and ever!

Ellen Britton