How to read treble clef sheet music.

This free lesson on reading the treble clef will help you to better understand music notation and get you started reading "easy play" music sometimes called "speed music" or "fake book" music.

The lesson will include basic notation, chord symbols, and rules for fingering simple melodies and chords.


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It you studied the lesson on musical notation you learned briefly about a lot of musical symbols used in reading music.

In this lesson we will begin to use some of the most common of these symbols in the context of a couple of simple recognizable songs.

These songs and thousands of other will be written in "speed music" or "fake book" format which is used by professional musicians and beginner piano hobbyists alike.

The treble clef is used in this type of music to give us the basic melody, either sung or played by the right hand on the piano or any number of melody instruments such as flute or horns etc.

Above the treble clef we will add chord symbols which in effect take the place of the Bass clef as they are generally played by the left hand as accompaniment.

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Fingering hint.

Before you begin any piece of music you need to know what finger is best to start on.

A general rule to follow is that the lowest note in a phrase of music will be [played with the RH (right hand) thumb and the highest note, (in this case G) will be played with the little finger called the 5th finger.

Having said that, place you 3rd finger (middle) on the first note E to begin the song. Your thumb will play the C's and B's and the rest of the fingers will rest lightly on the adjacent keys.

The 4/4 time signature.

The 4/4 time signature at the beginning of the treble clef tells us that there will be 4 beats or counts in each measure and that a quarter note (the black notes), will receive one count. Half note2 will receive two counts and whole notes all four counts.

Remember that if you see a tie ( the curved line under two notes of the same pitch) that note is held for the values of both notes.

In measure three we have a half note tied to another half note and in measures 7 and 9 we have a half note tied to a whole note.

If the melody is easy for you then use a root position C chord in the left hand and play it along with the first note of the song.

Repeat signs and 1st and 2nd endings.

The repeat signs are the double bar lines with the two dots in the middle. Music between repeat signs will be repeated.

In this song the first part of the melody is going to be repeated so instead of writing the whole thing out twice we can use repeat signs.

Only the last two measures are different so we use our 1st and 2nd ending brackets at the end of the song. The 1st ending is played only once and we are to skip to the second ending after repeating the melody.

About the left hand.

We have only two simple chords to play in this song, C maj and G7.

Actually we can forget about the seventh in the G chord as it is in the melody via the F note we play over the G chord.

If we start on a root position C chord as suggested we have from the bottom up the notes, C, E, and G.

In order to keep from hand jumping all the way up or down to a root position G triad, it is best to use the first inversion of the G maj chord.

This is accomplished by a process called voice leading in which we tie over the common tone, in this case the G note contained in both chords and find the notes needed to play the next chord below our G note. so the G chord is spelled from the bottom up B, D, and G.

The result is that our hand stays in position and ready to return to the C chord without having to take our eyes off the music to find the root position G chord.


To continue your study of treble clef songs explore the links below. Use the contact form below to suggest a song you would like to have featured is a lesson!!

More treble clef lessons.

Click the links below for lessons designed to increase you speed music skills.

treble staff lesson for Silent Night

from reading treble clef to- How to read music


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