Learn to read the Bass Clef

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Reading the Bass Clef is important if your are to become a well rounded keyboard player and overall musician. While it is essential if you want to become a classical pianist it is also important to the "play by ear" musician as well.

Why learn the Bass Staff?

The focus of this website is primarily geared toward teaching you to play by ear and also to read what is know as "Speed Music" or "fake book music" which normally will not include the F clef.

If you are a frequent visitor you know that reading this type of music requires that you understand how to play piano chords by using the chord symbols which are written above the melody on the treble clef.

By learning this method of playing we are essentially "faking" our improvising or left hand part.

What about written music with no chord symbols?

I have been handed music that is written using both the treble and F clefs and because I am able to identify the notes on the lower clef I am able to figure out what chords symbols could be used above the treble clef to allow me play my own left hand part and avoid the long and tedious chore of reading both hands.

One place where this ability is particularly handy is playing hymns in a church setting.

I have taken many a hymn and converted it to speed music by being able to understand the bass part in relation to the melody and therefore be able to write in the correct chord symbol on top where I am more comfortable.

Having said that....

Reading the Bass clef or F clef.

For musical notation we add another staff with a different symbol called the Bass Clef or F clef sign.

Notice that the two little dots are above and below the F line on the Bass clef. Any note placed on that line is the F below middle C.

From the bottom up the lines on the Bass staff are named G, B, D, F, A, and can be remembered with the sentence Good Boys Do Fine Always.

The spaces are named A, C, E, G, and can be remembered with the sentence All Cows Eat Grass.

The video at the bottom of this page offers a suggestion for another trick to remember the lines and spaces as well as a short drill to help you memorize the lines and spaces on the F clef.

Another helpful hint...

If you are familiar with the treble clef you already know that the second line from the bottom is the G line.

On the f clef the G line is the first line so every thing is moved down one line and space.

Sometimes it easier for me to remember that the whole staff is shifted down one line rather than using the silly sentences to remember the names of the lines and spaces.

Playing left hand Bass.

Fairly early in my career as a professional musician playing mostly in bands I was called upon to replace a full time Bass player by splitting my keyboard and playing piano in the right hand and the Bass part in the left.

Knowing the F Clef becomes more important if you are someday called upon to fill in for the Bass player.

If you are a Bass player it is essential to be able to identify notes on the Bass clef.

Best Home Study for "Ear Players"

After checking out dozens of home study courses that teach you to play by ear and focus on chord progressions I am convinced that the folks at Hear and Play have the best, most well rounded program available for just about all styles of music from Gospel to Jazz. Read my review or visit Hear and Play for more information.

Contact me

If you have any questions, suggestions, or ideas for future lessons feel free to Contact Me.

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