Introduction: How to Read Notes on the Staff for Beginning Pianists

The first thing that any beginning piano student (of any age!) learns is how to read notes and then how to find those notes on the piano keyboard.

This lesson is going to teach you the first part - how to read notes on the music staff. The musical alphabet is a lot smaller than the full one that we learned when we began learning how to spell our words.

Words are written in lines that form sentences, paragraphs, and stories. Music is written on what we call a Staff and we find all of our notes in both the treble and bass clefs on this staff.

Let's find out what the staff is before we start learning what each note is on that staff.

Step 1: What Is the Staff in Piano Music?

The musical Staff is made up of lines and spaces.

For each clef, there are 5 lines and 4 spaces in between those 5 lines. There are other notes that fall above or below the staff as well, but for this lesson, we're just going to learn the notes on the part of the staff that we can see.

What's really important here is to know that on each of those lines and spaces is a unique and specific note.

As you look at the image showing the lines and spaces of the staff, notice how the numbers start from the bottom line or space and go up the staff to the top. This is exactly how we're going to learn our this same order.

Make sure you verbally count each line going up and then each space to give you a preview of how we're going to learn our notes.

We're going to take the Treble Clef notes first and learn the note names for each line and space in this clef before moving on to the bass clef.

Step 2: Treble Clef Notes

The first image shows us what a Treble Clef sign looks like. You'll always find this and even the Bass Clef sign at the beginning of each line in your piano music.

Next, we're going over the notes on each of the 5 lines in Treble Clef.

Starting with the very bottom(first) line, the notes are:

  • E - G - B - D - F: I also give you a saying that you can learn to help you remember the notes. "Every Good Bunny Deserves Fudge" Notice how the first letter of each word is also the name of the note on that line.

Now, we'll go over the notes on each of the 4 spaces in Treble Clef.

Starting with the bottom space, the notes are:

  • F - A - C - E: The saying that goes with this one isn't really a saying, because the letters themselves spell out the word "FACE". Easy to remember!

You have 9 notes to learn here - 5 notes on lines and 4 notes on spaces. Just as you verbally counted the lines and spaces in the last step; do the same now, except replace the numbers with the actual note names. Practice saying the lines and spaces separately first, and then practice saying them all consecutively; going from one note to the next without skipping a line or space.

Next, we're going to learn our Bass Clef notes the exact same way.

Step 3: Bass Clef Notes

We've got bunnies and fudge in the bass clef too!

Just as we did with the Treble Clef notes, we're going to take the lines first and then the spaces.

The notes on the 5 lines in the Bass Clef are:

G - B - D - F - A: The saying that you can use to remember these notes is: "Good Bunnies Deserve Fudge Always". Remember, the first letter of each word corresponds with the name of the note on that line on the staff.

The notes on the 4 spaces in the Bass Clef are:

  • A - C - E - G: This time the letters don't spell out a word like they did in the Treble Clef so I've given you one to learn: "All Cows Eat Grass". (The bunnies have it better!) Again, the first letter of each word is the same as the note on that space.

Go through these note names in the Bass Clef just as you did with the Treble Clef notes and always start at the bottom and work your way upwards.

Before we go through all of this together, let's make sure that you know exactly what letters are used in the musical alphabet.

Step 4: The Musical Alphabet

If you were singing the musical alphabet like you do the "real" alphabet song, you'd only get through a little bit before you were finished! Sing it with me...

"A-B...C-D...E-F-G"...and we're done!

Once we reach G, we simply go back and start over at A.

All you have to learn is 7 notes to know the entire musical alphabet. When you start moving into harder music, you will see all kinds of variations of these notes and it's amazing how many different sounds that these few notes can actually make.

In the final step, I will show you where each note is on the music staff in both the Treble and Bass Clefs so you can make sure you're reading the notes correctly and you'll get off to a good solid start in your note reading.

Step 5: Come Practice With Me!

Remember how we talked about verbally counting through the 5 lines and 4 spaces in each clef and then doing the same with the note names; always starting from the bottom! This prepares you for this next step.

Now, we're going to visually look at the musical staff and I will show you the lines, spaces, and what the name of each note is for both clefs.

This will clear up any questions you might have as well as reinforce your understanding and knowledge. You can come back to this video anytime you want to make sure you are saying your notes correctly and you will be a master at note reading in no time at all if you go over this a lot when you first start reading music.

Ready to practice with me?