How to Read Treble Clef Notes

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Learn how to read treble clef notes quickly with clever note identification exercises! In this lesson you can also print free flash cards to continue practicing by yourself.

Bass and Treble Clef Notes.

The Treble or G Clef

The Treble clef is the symbol that show the notes that are higher pitched. (Treble means high pitch.) The G or treble clef has gone through many transformations through time. See here how it has changed:

Treble clefs

As you can see, the clef was originally the letter "G", but became stylized into the familiar symbol we use today.

The treble clef is also called the G clef since it "circles" around the line where the note treble G is:

Treble staff with G clefG is on the second line where the clef makes a swirl.

Note Names

So, if you know the music alphabet; A,B,C,D,E,F,G forward and backward, and you now know that the treble clef show us G; you actually know all the rest of the notes as well!

Ascending note names go forward in the alphabet A B C D E F G, descending go backward, G F E D C B A.

  • So the note one step higher than G is... A (since G is the last letter used). The next... B. And so on. 
  • The note one step lower than G is... F, then E and so on.

Click here to get free printable flash cards to practice the treble clef note names.

Treble clef notes

If you use syllable names (Do, Re, Mi etc) here is a quick translation:

C=Do, D=Re, E=Mi, F=Fa, G=Sol, A=La, B=Si/Ti

Using Mnemonics for Treble Clef Notes

But, of course there are quicker ways of learning the notes on the treble staff. One commonly used technique is using "mnemonics".

Treble Clef Notes on Lines (from bottom up):

Every Good Boy Does Fine

Treble Clef Notes on Spaces (from bottom up):


However, even though these mnemonics are shortcuts that may be useful in some situations, I am not a great fan of them to learn note names, because:

  • Many countries in the world do not use letter naming of the notes, but use syllable names: Do,Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Si/Ti. So mnemonics like the above doesn't work obviously.
  • I also want my students to immediately associate each note with where to play it on their instrument and prefer them to learn the notes by using "Landmarks" or "Guide Notes". I find this method give better and faster results.

Using Landmark or Guide Notes

When using guide notes to learn the note names, we memorize 5 landmark notes on each staff (treble and bass) on the grand staff:

Landmark notes

Here is how to learn it:

  • Middle C can be quickly learned as being in the middle.
  • The G clef shows us G and the F clef shows us F.
  • Next landmark notes are in the spaces. "High" C for the treble staff, and "Low" C on the bass staff.
  • Followed by the top line (treble) and the bottom line (bass). Learn them like this: "The G clef shows G. Top line is F." And reversed: "The F clef shows F. Bottom line is G."
  • The final landmarks are "very high" C, and "very low" C.

In my studio we practice these landmark or guide notes until memorized, then continue with the notes right next to each, above and below.

I find it's easier to learn much more securely this way, than trying to remember wacky mnemonics (like if it was the cows that were good and the boys that ate grass? :) ).

Learn Faster With Flash Cards

Flash cards are a great tool for learning different music theory concepts. When using them for drilling note names you should learn to first say the note name, then immediately play the exact pitch on an instrument.

In this way you not only become a better note reader and sight reader, but learn faster and more securely since you use more of your senses (see, say, hear, play). You'll also learn to associate each note with a specific sound and not just by name.

Free Flashcards With Letter and Syllable Names

Treble Clef Notes Flash Cards

Here I have prepared free, printable Treble Clef Notes Flash Cards for you:

The flash card answers have both letter names (A,B,C etc) and syllable names (Do, Re, Mi)!

Print on both sides so that you'll have the answers on the back. Preferably use card stock for best results. Why not try paper with different colors?

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