Memorize the Notes of the Grand Staff
Learning to read music notation is often difficult for many musicians on
any instrument. Piano players mostly use the grand staff, which is a form of notation that includes the treble
staff a bass staff being shown simultaneously.
The design of the piano keys and the way notes are placed on the grand staff are both based around the C major
scale. Memorizing the notes of the grand staff on the piano is substantially easier than many instruments because
of this similar design.
Both the treble staff and bass staff consist of five horizontal lines each. The treble staff is the higher of
the two sets of lines. Each line or space between the lines corresponds to a natural note of the C major scale. The
natural notes of the C major scale consist of all the white keys on the piano.
Even though it is not normally shown on the grand staff, there is an additional line in the grand staff between
the bottom line of the treble staff and the top line of the bass staff. The note on this line corresponds to the
middle C note on the piano.
You can determine all of the notes of the grand staff just by knowing the location of the middle C line. Each
time you move up a space or line on the grand staff, you move one natural note up. For example, the space above the
middle C corresponds to the D note.
The line above this space, the bottom line of the treble staff, is the E note. The space above the bottom line
of the treble staff is the F. Whenever you reach the G note in the grand staff, the next highest note returns to
the A note.
If you move down the grand scale, you go through the notes in reverse. For
example, the space under the middle C line is the B note. The top line of the bass staff, which is directly
under that space, is the A not.
The black keys on a piano are notes that are not present in the C
major scale. As a result, these keys do not have a unique position on the grand staff. Once you memorize the notes
of the grand staff, you can locate all the black keys by the “#” or “b” marking next to a note. The “#” symbol
indicates a note that is one semitone higher than the one indicated on the grand staff.
For example, if you saw a “#” symbol next to a middle C note, it indicates you should play the black key to the
right of the middle C key. The “b” symbol indicates a note that is one semitone lower than the one indicated on the
grand staff. You would play the black key to the left of any note modified by the “b” symbol.
A quick way to memorize the notes on the grand staff is to use a pneumonic device. For example, the notes in the
spaces are F-A-C-E when going up the treble staff. You can remember these notes because they spell the word “face.”
If you remember the phrase “Every Good Boy Does Fine,” you know the notes on the lines of the treble staff are
For the bass staff, “All Cows Eat Grass” can be used to remember the notes in the spaces between the lines are
A-C-E-G. The notes on the lines of the bass staff are G-B-D-F-A or “Good Birds Do Fly Away.”
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