Print this chapterPrint this chapter

Term 1 Theory Lessons & Quiz

1 Staff, Note Names & Clefs

The Staff

Music is written or "notated" on five lines and four spaces. This is called a staff.

Notes that sound higher are placed near the top of the staff. Notes that sound lower are placed further down.

Note Names

We use the first seven letters of the alphabet to label notes. There are obviously more than seven notes in music, so we repeat these same letters over and over again.

All of the A's are the same note, all of the B's are the same note, all of the C's are the same note, etc. The only difference is that one will sound higher or lower than the other. This difference is called an octave.

As you move up the alphabet, the pitch (the sound of the note) goes higher. As you move down the alphabet, the pitch goes lower.

Clefs

At the beginning of a staff, you will see something called a clef. The clef is responsible for telling us how to read the notes on the staff; specifically it will tell us what note name to assign to each line or space. There are many different types of clef, but the two most commonly used are: treble clef and bass clef.

Treble Clef

The treble clef is sometimes called the "G Clef." When the treble clef is correctly placed on the staff, the line of the staff that the clefs curls around is the note "G." Also, the clef itself sort of looks like a G.

The lines and spaces of the treble clef are each assigned a certain note name. The notes alternate between line and space as you go. If you can not remember the name of a certain note, it is very easy to find a note that you do know and simply follow the alphabet up (or down) in the lines and spaces until you find your answer.

Two phrases that you can use to help you remember the names of the notes in the treble clef staff are:

Learning to recognize these notes quickly will help you learn music faster because you won't have to stop and find the note every few seconds. The more you practice your note reading, the more automatic it will become.

Here is an exercise to help you practice reading notes in the treble clef.

Bass Clef

The bass clef is sometimes called the "F Clef." When the bass clef is correctly placed on the staff, its two dots go on either side of the line that represents the note "F". Also, the clef itself looks like an F.

The lines and spaces of the bass clef are each assigned a certain note name. The notes alternate between line and space as you go. If you can not remember the name of a certain note, it is very easy to find a note that you do know and simply follow the alphabet up (or down) in the lines and spaces until you find your answer.

Two phrases that you can use to help you remember the names of the notes in the bass clef staff are:

Learning to recognize these notes quickly will help you learn music faster because you won't have to stop and find the note every few seconds. The more you practice your note reading, the more automatic it will become.

Here is an exercise to help you practice reading notes in the bass clef.

For some final practice, here is an exercise that uses both treble and bass clef. Watch carefully!


Content and exercises made available under Creative Commons license from: