by Javier Arau © 2001
Piano players read notes on one big staff made up of ten lines. This is called a grand staff. Because we use two hands to play the piano, the grand staff is split into two staffs made up of five lines each. The upper staff is usually played by the right hand. It is usually seen with a treble clef in front of it. The lower staff is usually played by the left hand. It is usually seen with a bass clef in front of it.
You already know that musical notes are written as circles on the lines and spaces of these staffs. The musical alphabet that goes with these notes uses only seven letters: A B C D E F G. These seven notes on the treble clef staff are written beginning with A on the second space. B is the note on the third line, and so on (see example below). The bass clef alphabet begins with A on the bottom space. B follows on the second line, and so on.
You can see that there are many more lines and spaces above and below the ABCDEFG notes in the example above. The notes that go on these other lines and spaces also use letters from the alphabet. When you get to the end of the seven letter alphabet, you start back at A again. The seven letters just get repeated over and over again (ABCDEFGABCDEFGAB...). Now look at the grand staff and ALL of its notes. The bottom note on the bass clef staff is F. The next note up is G. Then the alphabet begins again with A. The bottom note on the treble clef staff is D. Then the notes move up to E, F, and G. Once again, the note after this is A.ove or below each staff.
Because middle C acts like a link between the bass and treble clef, it is a good place to begin when learning to read two-handed songs on the grand staff.