If you’re starting out on the piano, you may have heard of the treble clef. This is a symbol you will see almost every time you sit down to play piano sheet music, so it is important to understand it thoroughly. I’m going to teach you everything you need to know about the treble clef staff as a staff, notes on the treble clef, and more!
What is a treble clef for dummies?
The Treble Clef is a common and very important musical symbol used for music notation; it is also known as the “G Clef.”
As Merriam Webster puts says, treble clef is “a clef that places G above middle C on the second line of the staff.”
I’ll explain more about what that means in a second, but first, here is what a treble clef looks like:
A clef is all about the placement of notes on the staff. There are other clefs (bass clef, alto clef, etc.) that put the notes in different positions. But Treble Clef is by far the most common.
Now I know all that can sound a little confusing without actually seeing anything. So let’s take a look at a treble clef, along with the notes G. The treble clef loops around the line where G belongs, which is why it is also called the G clef!
Notes on the treble Clef
G may be the note that the whole treble clef is centered around, but it is not the only note! A note can be placed on every line and space on the treble clef staff, and underneath it as well.
Starting from middle c, the treble clef notes are C – D – E – F – G – A – B – C – D – E – F. Take a look below:
It is important to understand treble clef in terms of where the notes are on the PIANO too! Whenever we learn music theory, we have to transfer our head knowledge to practical knowledge of our instrument.
Remember the lowest C in the image above? That is middle C. Middle C and D are both below the staff on treble clef.
So then, the very first line of treble clef, E, is the E right above middle C!
How do I remember treble clef notes?
There are a variety of ways to memorize the treble clef notes. A lot of times people will learn mnemonic phrases to remember the notes.
I will show you some of these below, but first, just a word of caution:
While mnemonic phrases are convenient and seem easy at first, they should not be relied upon in the long run. In order to really read treble clef and all sheet music, you must be able to recognize each note as its own letter, intuitively as you read a book. This doesn’t happen by counting up 5 lines using your phrase to find out the letter.
So all this to say, use these phrases to get started, but don’t rely upon them. Use flash cards to practice naming your notes until you have them down without using the phrases.
Memorizing Treble Clef Lines
Now that we’ve got that out of the way…the notes on the treble clef lines are E – G – B – D – F. To remember this, I grew up learning the phrase “Every Good Boy Does Fine.”
However, there are lots of other phrases and you can choose whichever one you like best: Every Good Boy Deserves Football, Every Good Bird Does Fly, Every Green Bus Drives Fast, and Elephants Go Bouncing Down Freeways are all possibilities.
Memorizing Treble Clef Spaces
The spaces, on the other hand, are much more straightforward. They actually spell the word “FACE” reading from the bottom up! See below:
Which Instruments Use Treble Clef?
A variety of instruments use the treble clef in their sheet music, including piano, violin, flute, saxaphone, guitar, oboe, and more.
One common misconception about treble clef and the piano is that it is only used for the right hand parts.
While this is true in beginner piano sheet music, it is certainly not true as a rule. The treble clef IS used for the higher notes on the piano, which is why it is usually played with the right hand.
However, there are many songs (classical and otherwise) that may have a treble clef in both the left hand and right hand because it is a song that is played on the upper half of the keyboard. Or, a song may even switch between bass clef and treble clef in the left hand.
How do you read a treble clef sheet music?
If you are looking at a piece of sheet music with treble clef are you’re confused, make sure to go over the images above and study the different notes on the clef. And remember—a good place to start is with the note G, since this is the line the treble clef is looped around.
Once you memorize which notes are on which lines and spaces, it will be easier for you to read the music as if you’re reading a book. However, keep in mind that this does take a lot of time and practice! A good teacher can definitely help with this process.
What is the line through middle C called?
The line through middle C is called a ledger line! Ledger lines are used for notes that are under or above the staff (this can be done on any clef, not just treble clef!)
How to Draw treble Clef
I have found that there are two ways to draw treble clef (and no matter which one you choose, it really is easier than it looks!)
The first method starts by making a swirl around the G line on the staff. Then, you have to curve upward and loop around and back down with a line through the swirl.
The second method with a straight line down the staff, then forms the different loops by using the straight line as a guide.
I personally prefer the first method, but sometimes the second method is easier to learn when you’re starting out.
My goal is to make a video on this soon so you can see it in action!
Treble Clef Worksheet
Want to put into practice everything you’ve learned! Download the PDF below for a free treble clef worksheet. It will give you space to practice naming the treble clef notes and drawing treble clef!
Treble clef is an essential part of music to understand when learning the piano and a variety of other instruments too. Make sure to practice your flash cards, naming the notes as quickly as you can until you memorize them well! You’ve got this!