How to Read the Bass Clef for the Piano

The piano plays in both treble and bass clef simultaneously. When a pianist approaches a new piece, he is required to read both clefs. Learning to read the bass clef is simple if you already understand how the treble clef works. Even if you don’t know how to read the treble clef, there are some tricks that will help you learn to read the notes of both clefs. By taking the time to understand the bass clef, you will improve your understanding of music and your ability to play it.

Step 1

Examine the bass clef symbol. It resembles a backwards "C" with two dots placed on the third and fourth space. The line directly between the two dots represents the note F.

Step 2

Establish a mnemonic phrase to help you memorize which notes the spaces represent. From top to bottom, those notes are A, C, E and G. The phrase "All Cows Eat Grapes" can help you remember that.

Step 3

Create another phrase to help you remember which notes the lines represent. Those notes are, from bottom to top, G, B, D, F and A. One phrase might be "Great Brains Drink Fluids Always." Another could be, "Good Boys Deserve Fudge Always."

Step 4

Search the music for numbers above notes. The numbers refer to fingering patterns. If you see a 1 in the score, it means to use your thumb to play the note. Finger numberings work from the thumbs to the outside fingers, resulting in a range of one to five. The number will give you a clue about which note to use. A 2 would indicate that you should play the note with your index finger.


The bass clef is sometimes called the F-clef since it identifies F below middle C.

The notes of the treble clef are spelled two note names lower. For instance the A space in the bass clef is the F space in the treble clef.


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