Lesson 4: Bass Clef


The treble clef is on the upper stave of your music.




The bass clef is on the lower stave

Like the treble clef, the notes alternate being on the lines or in the spaces and they just move through the octave A-B-C-D-E-F-G and then start again A-B-C-D-E-F-G but, unfortunately for beginners, the names are different from the treble clef.

Middle C on the piano (which you will remember means the C nearest the middle of the piano keyboard) is usually the C just above the clef, with a single line through it, as above.


However, when music for female singers is written in the bass clef, the notes are sung one octave above where they are written on the bass clef - which should be shown by a little number 8 above the bass clef sign. This makes "middle C" appear to be one octave lower.


All Cows Eat Grass

On the bass clef, you can remember "All Cows Eat Grass" to remember the notes in the spaces. Notice the horns and eyes on these cows are the bass clef.


Good Burritos Don't Fall Apart

The notes on the lines read "Good Burritos Don't Fall Apart" - I guess because these ones are on skewers... Notice that the burritos look a little bass clef shaped.


Here is another game. Practise until you can quickly name all the notes (You may need to come back a few times over a few days!).


And now putting everything together from last week, this game tests your notes on the stave and on the piano. (Go back to Lesson 1 to practise the notes first if you need to)

Sad Bass Clef Story

Here is a story. Try to work out what it says.

One day, two friends


took a

to a



They brought with them a


to play with. The

had a

. In the corner of the

there was a bird

. The

was empty except for a tiny

and a wooden toy

sitting on the

of the

The friends both ordered a





to his order and

ordered an

Why is the


asked. The waiter

them with a sad expression. There was a bird in the

. He was old-


but we

him every day and he was happy. But one day a

came and stung him and now he is


, that's




Lesson Summary

I hope you are managing to remember all we've done so far. There is a lesson summary which you can print out as a reminder. It includes all the lessons in the course - so don't worry if you don't understand all of it yet. It will become clearer each week.

Lesson summary US version
Lesson summary Int version


There is no video this week but (shock, horror...) homework instead. Your homework is to take a piece of music that is in the key of C major (this means there are no flats and sharps in the key signature at the start of each line) and learn to play the first page of your part of it on the piano so you can sing along to it.

When I first started, I had to get a pencil and write the name of every note underneath it because I found it WAY too hard to read the note fast enough AND remember the flats and sharps AND work out where it was on the piano all at the same time. Some teachers find this heretical and insist that you manage without the pencil - but my feeling was that I wanted to know how to sing, not play a piano concerto and if a little cheating helped that happen, that was fine by me. (Note: after a couple of years - I'm a slow learner - I could manage without writing it in pencil first.) So at this stage, you have my permission to use a pencil.

Real pianos are big and expensive, so I understand if you don't have one of those. However, an electronic keyboard can be bought for around $120 (or cheaper second-hand), doesn't take up much room and can be a great investment (I would really recommend it, if you can get one). But if you don't have one of those either, you can use a virtual piano on the computer.