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Lesson 3: More about the Treble Clef
By Debbie Ridpath Ohi - 06/04/2007 - 10:51 AM EDT

In my last column, I introduced the treble clef.

As I mentioned last time, the treble clef is also referred to as the G clef because of the fact that the curly bit in the treble clef wraps around the "G line":

Thus you already know that the second line from the bottom in the treble clef is named G. Suppose we place a note on this line. If you sang or played this note, it would sound as concert pitch G:

As I'm sure you remember from the first lesson, the note on the above staff is a quarter note. When figuring out a pitch of a particular note, ignore the "tail" of the note and just look at the circular note itself. In this case, the note is on G.

Each space AND line on a staff are associated with a particular pitch.

Names of the spaces in the treble clef

There are four spaces in the treble clef, and these notes spell out the word "FACE":

Names of the lines in the treble clef

There are five lines in the treble clef, and these notes spell out the word "EGBDF". Okay, so maybe this isn't a real word. To help music students remember the names of the lines, teachers have come up with a number of different sayings, such as "Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge". PC-conscious types steer away from this saying for fear of being pummelled by rabid feminists ("Why is it that just BOYS deserve fudge, huh? What do the GIRLS get, tell me that?") and angry dieters.

Feel free to make up your own acronym. In fact, please do let me know if you come up with anything interesting, and I'll post it in my next column. If it's appropriate for family viewing, that is. :-)

Learning the names of the notes

Unfortunately there's a bit of drudgework involved've got to be able to know the names of the lines and spaces in the treble clef. You could just memorize the rules above, but this would mean a hasty muttering each time you try reading a note. If you do this enough, however, you should (in theory) start recognizing what notes are which without having to rely on the rules each time:

A better way (but involving more effort on your part, sadly) is to find a way to ingrain the rules into your brain so they become second-nature. Without a private tutor to give you reams of exercises with immediate feedback, your best bet is probably to use flash cards.

How to make treble clef flashcards

I've provided the images for your flashcards at the end of this column. Print out the images on a piece of paper, and then use a pair of scissors to cut them up so that each one is on a separate piece of paper.

1. Buy a pack of blank white index cards (3.5 x 5").

2. Glue the music-notation section of each image on one side of each card. On the other side of the card, glue the corresponding letter (or write it with ink that won't show through the other side).

3. Shuffle the cards.

4. Go through the entire deck of cards, with the note portion facing toward you. Name the note, then turn the card over to see if you're right. At first you'll probably have to remember the rules ("FACE", "Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge") to identify each note.

5. This will be frustrating at first, and likely very slow-going. Don't Give Up! The more you practice, the more automated the process will get.

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