The Treble Clef: A Beginner’s Guide

By Jade Bultitude
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Staff Lines, Notes and More

The treble clef is perhaps one of the most common clefs out there. If you play the piano you will most likely see this on the top line of your staff as it is used for the right hand notes.

If you would like to learn how to read treble clef notes then read this blog post carefully as we will teach you how to read the treble clef note names and more.

A clef is a symbol written at the beginning of staff lines. This symbol helps to determine a pitch for each line and space and therefore helps the performer to know what notes to play. The staff represents the music a composer would like the performer to play and by placing a clef at the start of the staff, each line and space will have an assigned pitch.

What is the treble clef?

The treble clef is used for notes above middle C. The treble clef is also sometimes called the G clef because it shows where the note G is on the staff lines, specifically the G just above middle C.

G in treble clef

If you find middle C you can easily count up from here to find out the notes in the treble clef staff.

The treble clef staff will have five lines and four spaces.

The 7 Musical Notes on the Treble Clef Staff

The notes of the treble staff are, from the bottom line to the top line are as follows:

E, F, G, A, B, C, D, E, F

Notice how once we get to the D the musical alphabet repeats again.

treble clef, all notes on staff labelled

You can also count the treble clef notes from middle C and the same musical notation pattern will be follows.

treble clef, all notes from middle c to f labelled

Lines and spaces for treble clef notes

As you can see above, every note is either on a line or in a space. If you separate these out it is much easier to remember!

Below you can see the line notes:

treble clef notes on lines named

Below you can see the space notes:

treble clef space notes named

There are some very easy way to help you remember these lines and spaces note names and these are different mnemonic devices.

For the line notes we can use the mnemonic device – Every Good Boy Does Fine. This rhyme goes from bottom to top on the five lines and the lines correspond with the mnemonic above. The bottom line will be E ‘every’, the second line will be G ‘good’, the third line will be B ‘boy’, the fourth line will be D ‘does’ and the top line will be F ‘fine’.

every, good, boy, does, fine, treble clef notes

For the space notes we can remember F A C E in the space. The word f a c e also goes from bottom to top just as we saw with the line notes. The bottom space is ‘F’, the second space is ‘A’, the third space is ‘C’ and the fourth space is ‘E’.

FACE mneumonic for remembering treble clef space notes

By using these rhymes you will be able to learn how to quickly read treble clef notes.

Line Note Reading Practice

Want to do some treble clef line note reading practice? Take a look at the short piece of sheet music below and see if you can read the treble clef notation.

two measures in treble clef on line notes

The answers are:

C, E, C, E, G, G, B, G, B, D, G

Space Note Reading Practice

Want to do some treble clef space note reading practice? Take a look at the short piece below and see if you can read the treble clef note names.

two measures in treble clef on space notes

The answers are:

F, A, F, A, E, C, C, E, G, E, A

How To Draw A Treble Clef Properly

Perhaps one of the hardest things about the treble clef is actually drawing the treble clef!

As you have seen, it is quite an intricate clef to draw. The treble clef is also known as the G clef and this is important when thinking about drawing it!

The whole treble clef circles and decorates the note G. If you place your pencil on the second line of the staff, draw a circle up and over to the right, draw it down to sit on the bottom line. Bring your pencil over to the right again and continue drawing up to the top of the staff, curl it over and then draw straight down the middle and flick!

treble clef

Below you can see the different stages of drawing a treble clef.

like this but different!

Grab some staff paper and give it a go!

What Instruments Use The Treble Clef?

The treble clef is used for many instruments some good examples of these are:

  • Flute
  • Clarinet
  • Oboe
  • Violin
  • Trumpet
  • French Horn
  • Right hand of the piano

Although this list in not exhaustive, it is important to recognise what all of these instruments have in common. What they have in common is that all of these instruments play notes above middle C.

Middle C is a note that uses one ledger line right at the bottom of the treble clef staff.

middle c in treble clef

A ledger lines are short lines that are placed outside of the usual staff lines to add extra notes.

treble clef ledger line notes from A to G

Other instruments will use different clefs, such as the bass clef, alto clef or tenor clef.

Musical Staff and the Piano Keyboard

As we have seen, the piano is one of the instruments that uses the treble clef. However, when playing the piano we don’t just read notes only in the treble clef.

As we have seen, the treble clef is for notes written above middle C (the notes in the right hand). But the piano has a much larger range than this.

In order to read this large range, the piano also uses the bass clef. Bass clefs are used for notes below middle C and is therefore the notes that will be played by the left hand. In the case of a bass clef, the middle C will be written at the top of the staff. It will still use a ledger line, which is a short line, but this time it will be at the top.

treble and bass clefs, middle c labelled

Take a look at the piano below and you can see where middle C is on the keyboard.

middle c labelled on keyboard

Want to Learn More About Music?

If you want to continue learning more about musical notation and the different clefs in music theory, then make sure to check out our overview of all the main clefs.

The best place to look next is to learn what is the bass clef and how to read music notation in the bass clef. If you can read bass clef you will find it much easier to play the piano!

There are of course other clefs in music notation and these are:

  • Alto clef
  • Tenor clef

The alto clef and the tenor clef are much less common than the treble clefs and bass clefs, but they are still important to learn none the less!

alto clef and tenor clef
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Jade is a flute player and music educator with a passion for educating the next generation of musicians. She is a Masters Graduate from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. Jade has been helping people learn music theory for more than 10 years from pre school children all the way to degree level studies.