Beginning to Read Music

by John Craton


To help us know the proper pitch of a note, We write all notes on a staff. A staff is made up of five lines:

Placing the notes at different places on the staff tells us how high or low the pitch of the note will be. Notes at the bottom of the staff are lower in pitch, and those near the top are higher pitched. Of course, we can make notes higher or lower than can be shown on the staff itself, but we will get into that a little later. For now we will think about only the notes that can be written on the five-line staff.

Every note has a name. The names we give them are the first seven letters of the alphabet, A B C D E F and G. We give them only these seven names because there are only seven notes in a scale. Once we get to G, we start over again with A. This means, of course, that some notes have the same name, even though one note may be much higher than another. If you sing do re mi fa so la ti do and keep going, that last do is actually the beginning of the next series of notes in the scale. Just so, when we get to G in the note names, the next higher note will be A. This means we only have to think about those first seven letters to name all the notes we can play.

The bottom line on the treble staff (the staff we use for violin music) is for the note E. The next note up is written in the space between the two bottom lines and is F. The second line from the bottom, and the next note up the scale, is G, then the space between the G line and the middle line of the staff is A. So if we start with the bottom line (E) and place notes on each line and space we will have E F G A B C D E and F:

Sometimes it is easier to remember the names of just the lines and just the spaces. Since in music we always go from the bottom toward the top of the staff, the line names are E G B D and F. An easy way to remember these is to think of the phrase “Every Good Bird Doth Fly.” The spaces are even easier to remember because they spell a word: FACE. [Practice these in your workbook.]

Return to Index Go to Next Page