How To Read Piano Notes On The Grand Staff

In this lesson, we will learn how to read piano notes. We will learn how to identify notes on what is known in music notation as the grand staff.

Firstly, let us talk about the staff. Music is written on a staff. Take a look at the staff below. We can see that it consists of four spaces and five lines. The lines and spaces are counted from bottom to top. These lines and spaces are named after the first seven letters of the alphabet. As you know, these letters are A, B, C, D, E, F, G. These are all the letters in the musical alphabet. There is no H.

The Grand Staff
Music staff lines and spaces
Notes of musical alphabet

If all we have is four spaces and five lines, we woudn't know what the notes were for these lines and spaces. How do we solve this problem? In music notation, we have what is called a treble clef.

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 The treble clef is also known as the G clef due to the fact that it circles the G line on the staff. Don't worry we learn more about this G line shortly. 

Thanks to the treble clef, the lines of the treble staff, or the lines in the treble clef are E-G-B-D-F.

From top to bottom what are the note names for the five lines? The answer is E-G-B-D-F

Treble Clef, G ClefTreble Clef

There's an easy way to remember this. You can use the phrase Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge. Or Every Good Boy Does Fine. Phrases like these will make it much easier to read piano notes on lines of the treble clef.

This brings us to the spaces of the treble clef. The spaces of the treble clef are F A C E. What did I say? F-A-C-E. And what word does it spell? Clearly, it spells the word, face. Very easy to remember this one. There's no need for any phrase.

On piano, the notes of the treble clef are usually played with the right hand. But what about the other hand? What do you play with the left hand? The bass clef tells us what to play.

How to read piano notes on the treble clef

Here's an example of the bass clef. 

bass clef sign

It is also called the F clef. Why? Because its two dots are placed on either side of the F line. The F line is the fourth line on the bass staff. So what are the names of the various notes for the spaces and lines of this bass clef? 

The lines are G B D F A. What are the notes that correspond to the lines in the bass clef? The answer is G B D F A. To remember this you can use the phrase Good Boys Do Fine Always. Or Good Boys Deserve Fudge Always

How to read piano notes on the bass clef

This takes us to the four spaces of the bass clef. The notes are A-C-E-G. What are the notes that correspond to the spaces in the bass clef? The answer is A-C-E-G. One easy way to remember this is with the sentence All Cows Eat GrassWhen learning how to read piano notes, phrases like these are a must. It makes it much easier.

How To Read Piano Notes On Ledger Lines

But what if we want to play piano notes which are much higher than the notes we have talked about? Or what if we want to play notes which are lower than the notes we've looked at? After all, a piano has a total of 88 keys! To take care of this, in music notation, there is something called a ledger line.

Ledger lines on the treble and bass clef

Ledger lines (leger lines) are short lines placed above and below the musical staff. One very important ledger line you should know as a beginner, is middle C

Middle C on the grand staff (treble and bass staff)

Middle C is located near the middle of your piano.

Location of middle C on piano/keyboard

For piano music, a grand staff consisting of a treble staff and bass staff is normally used. A grand staff is simply a treble staff and bass staff joined together by a brace. Middle C is on a ledger line in the middle of the grand staff, between the treble and bass staff. Usually, you use the right hand to play notes from middle C and higher on your piano, and the left hand plays notes that are lower than middle c.

In the ledger line diagram higher up this page, we saw that there are many ledger lines. As you progress as a piano student, it will all become quite simple. But for now, the focus should be mainly on the lines and spaces in the treble and bass clef, as well as middle C. 

In the diagram below we can see what notes on the treble and bass clef correspond to the various keys on your piano. 

Piano keys and notes and grand staff

I trust that you now have a better understanding of how to read piano notes. 

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