“While he was still young enough to carry the nickname ‘Little Boy’ he could hear the harmony in a tune. In his early teens, now simply called ‘Boy’ by his parents and sisters, Monroe learned to sight-read music using he 7-scale shape note system. Shape notes, taught in the singing schools of the day, used a series of triangles, circles, trapezoids and squares to represent the root ‘do’ of the scale and all the other tones. Monroe was an excellent sight-reader. If he didn’t know the song, he could quickly learn it … if it were transcribed into shapes.
(After he married Anna) music became a recreational pastime for Monroe and throughout the following years the Alderson house was the gathering place for amateur musicians. Monroe may have stopped performing in public, but he never stopped entertaining.”
from An Ordinary Day