The notes on the treble clef

Martin Cohen
A free video tutorial from Martin Cohen
Teacher, musician and composer
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19:01:20 of on-demand video • Updated October 2020

  • Complete beginners will be taken to an intermediate (or even higher) level of piano playing with a thorough understanding of music theory.
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English The notes on the treble clef. Now, it's very well possible to make music without being able to actually read music. Till now, you've been able to play the songs I showed you, without the need to write notes from the five lines used in sheet music. But on the other hand, it's such an advantage if you know how to read and eventually also to write music. It's like in daily life: you can very well survive if you cannot read, but once you can read, you ask yourself how it's possible to live life without being able to read. Imagine: not being able to read books, signs on the streets, or whatever. Now it's the same in music. Once you're able to read music, you cannot imagine being a musician without being able to read music. So let's start reading music. You probably already saw it sometimes before: sheet music. A paper full of lines with notes on and in between and even under and above those lines. Let me explain you how it works. It's simpler than it looks. The notes are written on sets of five horizontal lines. We call such a set of five horizontal lines the staff. In the beginning of the staff, you can find either a treble clef or a bass clef. Generally speaking, you can say that the treble clef is for the right hand on the piano, and the bass clef is for the left hand. So, let's start with the treble clef. So, the right hand. We can place notes on and in between the lines on the staff. The first note on the lowest line on the staff is an E. The next note, in between the lowest line of the staff and the next line, is the F. On the second line is the G. In this way we go on placing the notes on the staff. So here we get the A. Then the B, the C, the D, the E. Now one octave higher than the E we started with on the lowest line on this staff. And finally, the F. And here is our complete picture of all the notes you can put on and in between the lines of the staff in the treble clef. You see that the notes represented on and in between the five lines on the staff, are the white notes on the piano keyboard. The lowest note in this picture is the E just at the right of the middle C on the piano. All the other white notes follow up till the F a bit more than an octave higher. An easy way to remember the place of the notes in between the lines in the treble clef, is that the notes between the lines make the word "FACE". From those face notes, it's easy to find the other notes. So, the ones that are on the lines. OK. How do we just play the middle C? Because, when E is on the lowest of the five horizontal lines, the C is even two white notes lower. OK, let's start to put the D, the white note just left of the E. Well that's simple. Just put it under the lowest line, like this: Now what about the C? We miss an extra line under our lowest line. Well, let's make it then. Just on the place where we need the C. Now, we call this small extra line a "ledger line" and on that line we can now put our C. Simple, isn't it? In the same way we can add notes at the top of the staff. So the note on the top line of the stuff is the F, and the next note will be the G. Now we can add a ledger line, where we can place the A. So now we have the following set of notes on the staff with a treble clef, almost two octaves. It's possible to go even further down by placing more ledger lines, like in this example. Now, what note is this? Well, let's have a look. This would be the middle C, as you saw before. So, let's go down the ledger lines now. One note down from C is B, then A, then G, F, E, D, and finally C. This C is an octave lower than the middle C. You can do the same thing at the top of the staff. So for example: what note is this? Well, when the note on the top line of the staff is an F, just go up in steps. Let's see if you can find it yourself. I will wait for some seconds. OK. Did you find it? This note is an E. Now, it's not so easy to read notes quickly when you have lots of ledger lines on top or at the bottom of the staff. In practice two or maximum three letter lines are acceptable for a quick reading of the notes. More ledger lines already get quite difficult, but sometimes it happens. By the way, there are other ways of displaying high notes that are far above this staff lines, but I will for now not discuss this. Very important now is that you get used to read notes on the staff. So practice this and do the exercises in the quiz to become more confident in reading the notes on the staff in the treble clef.