There are four differently shaped noteheads, the so-called “shapes”:

Here are some mnemonics, or ways of remembering the shape names:
Fa looks like a little Flag
So (or Sol) is round like the Sun
La is rectanguLAr
Mi is a diamond, which you give to Me

Here are the scales:

C major C major
A minor A minor

Before we move on to the shapes, a short experiment. Read slowly, syllable by syllable, the following two lines:

“Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you…”

“Yesterdaaay… all my troubles seemed so far away…”

Do you “hear” the melodies? It is because the differences in pitch between the notes (the “intervals”) are mentally linked to the syllable sequences.

“fasola” is a kind of universal standard “text” with the shapes as syllables. What are syllables? They are sound units, building blocks of words. You can also build “words” from the shapes, i.e. short melodies (or melodic phrases).

Here’s a few:

Just as we often find the same word in different texts, such short melodic sequences appear again and again in different tunes. After some time we begin to recognize them and add them to our vocabulary; we learn to speak the notation language. It’s a great feeling to see “la fa” or “fa mi la” and “hear” the melody snippets in your head.