How to Read Music

This is what you need to know at BMC to do a Level One class or above. If you can't read music, you need to start with an INTRO class, which will teach all this.

Music is written on a staff. A staff is five lines like this:

Clefs tell you if the notes on the staff are higher notes, or lower notes:

This is a treble clef:

The treble clef is used by higher instruments like the violin, trumpet, soprano recorder, flute, clarinet, and the right hand of the piano also uses treble clef.

This is a bass clef:

The bass clef is used by lower instruments like the cello, and the left hand of the piano.

Clefs sit at the beginning of the staff:

The notes that are on the staff look like this:

They tell you which notes to play on your instrument.

A crotchet is one beat (count), a minum is two beats, and a semibreve is four beats.

Notes sit on the staff, and they can either sit on the lines like this:

or in the spaces like this:

The notes that are higher on the staff sound higher when you play them, and the notes lower down on the staff sound lower when you play them.

Each note has a name. They are each named after a letter. The musical alphabet is A, B, C, D, E, F, and G.

Notice how Middle C is not on one of the five lines on either staff. If a note is too high or too low to fit on a staff, a ledger line is used. The line through Middle C is a ledger line.

There are easy ways to remember the note names.

In treble clef the notes on the lines say Every Good Boy Deserves Football, and the notes in the spaces spell face.

In bass clef the notes on the lines say Green Buses Drive Fast Always, and the notes in the spaces say All Cows Eat Grass.

Now you're very clever!

Print or copy these onto paper.

What do these notes say? Write down the names of each note and see what they spell!

Draw a line to match!

What are the names of these notes, and how many beats are they?

Remember to check which clef it is!

Hint: One of these notes is upside down. That's because if a note is below the middle line, its stick points up, and if it's above the middle line, its stick points down. If it's on the middle line, the stick can go either way.

The "All Cows Eat Grass" picture comes from this website:

It's a good website for learning more music theory.

Treble Clef

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Treble Clef