How to Read Music: G-Clef & F-Clef

The Grand Staff consists of an upper staff and a lower staff. Each staff consists of five lines and four spaces and each staff has a fancy symbol at the beginning called a clef.

Two clefs are used to write piano music: the G-clef and the F-clef. The clef tells us which notes (by letter name) go with each line and space.

piano-ology-how-to-read-music-grand-staff-clefs


The G-clef tells us which note is G above middle C…

piano-ology-how-to-read-music-clefs-meaning-of-g-clef

The G-clef is also called the treble clef because it is used to notate music for higher-pitched instruments like the female voice and violin.


The F-clef tells us which note is F below middle C…

piano-ology-how-to-read-music-clefs-meaning-of-f-clef

The F-clef is also called the bass clef because it is used to notate music for lower-pitched instruments like the male voice, tuba, and bass guitar.


A Few More Words about Clefs

Important: Although the right hand is most often written using the G-clef (and the left hand in F-clef), there are occasions when the left hand plays notes written in G-clef and vice versa.

An example of left hand playing in treble clef (Clementi Sonatina)…

piano-ology-how-to-read-music-clefs-g-clef-played-with-left-hand

An example of the right hand playing in bass clef (Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata”):

piano-ology-how-to-read-music-clefs-f-clef-played-with-right-hand

LEARN MORE… Lines & Spaces

About Frank J Peter

A uniquely burdened and blessed citizen of the world thinking and acting out loud!
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