Students of music in the Middle Ages would have learned their notes in a different manner than their modern counterparts. They would have learned the Guidonian Hand, a mthod in which "a map of notes was arranged on the hand."
Now Jesse Rodin, an assistant professor of music at Stanford University, is reviving the system as a way to use memory to teach music.
From the Science Blog article:
Developed in the 11th century, the Guidonian Hand is a mnemonic system in which musical “steps” are arranged in a spiral across twenty joints on the left hand. Like the alphabet, it was a basis for understanding relationships between different characters – in this case, musical notes (ut, re, mi, fa, sol, and la). It’s not certain whether medieval singers used the Hand during performance, but we can be sure their musical thinking was informed by it.