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Treble Clef

reading music

This symbol is called a G clef:

It’s called a G clef because it curls around the note G. Whichever line the G clef is centered on is G. Let’s see it on the staff…

This is a treble clef. The symbol is called a G clef… but when it’s placed on the second line of a 5-line staff, counting up from the bottom, it’s called a treble clef. The reason is that the staff lines now define an exact range of notes.

The treble clef is therefore a type of G clef. Theoretically, the G clef could be placed on any of the five lines of the staff, and that line would be G. In practice, however, the only type of G clef that is in common use today is the treble clef, so that’s all you need to know!

The G clef always indicates the G above middle C. The note on the second line – around which the G clef symbol curls – is the G above middle C:

Here are the notes on the lines and spaces of the treble clef:

For reference, I’ve included one ledger line below and above the staff. The first ledger line below the treble clef staff is middle C.

How to Learn the Treble Clef

Many students are taught mnemonic devices to learn to read music. For the lines of the treble clef, the most common mnemonic is “Every Good Boy Does Fine,” with the first letter of each word indicating the notes on that line (bottom to top: E, G, B, D, F). For the spaces, the acronym FACE is used.

Such devices may be useful memory aids, and if they are useful to you in the very beginning stages, then use them by all means. However, I find them ineffective and therefore do not teach them.

Instead, the professional method used in my How to Read Sheet Music course trains the eyes to recognize reference notes and patterns on the treble clef as well as bass clef. This is the method used by music conservatories to train professional classical musicians due to its proven effectiveness.

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