bass clef Archive

In my article Understanding The Piano Keyboard For Your Piano Lessons, I discussed the layout of the keyboard and that the black keys are referenced as both sharps and flats. What you’ll learn today is exactly how these keys are named and look on the Treble Clef and Bass Clef staff lines.

Sharps And Flats – Understanding Sharps

The first few piano lessons you’ll take will focus on the white keys on your piano keyboard but after you’ve become comfortable, you’ll begin to see sharps and flats in the exercises and songs in your music books.

The sharp symbol is a slanted version of the pound sign (right above the number 3 key on a computer keyboard) or the hashtag you may have seen on Twitter and Facebook feeds. It implies a higher pitch within the musical range of a song and can be placed on either clef staffs. To see the sharp symbol, let’s take a look at the image below as it sits on the treble staff line:

 

D Sharp Symbol on Treble Clef Staff

D Sharp Symbol on Treble Clef Staff

The quarter note sits on the key of D which is where the sharp symbol sits. What this tells you is to play the black key that is half a step up from the D key on the piano keyboard, seen in the image below:

D Sharp Key

D Sharp Key

Many of the advanced pieces you’ll learn to play will place the sharp symbol on the staff next to the clef so you’ll always know to play D# when that key comes up.

In other pieces of work you’ll play, the composer may have you play the key of D but for later sections, he/she may want you play D# for a few bars. To represent that, you can place the symbol alongside the note:

 

D Sharp Symbol Next To Quarter Note

D Sharp Symbol Next To Quarter Note

Both clef examples above produce the same results on your keyboard.

Sharps and Flats – Understanding Flats

Going in the opposite direction, the flat symbol portrays a lower pitch within a musical piece and can also appear on both clef staffs. It’s in the shape of a lowercase “b” but is pointed at the bottom. In the photo below I’ve placed the flat symbol next to the bass clef sitting on the key of B just like the quarter note:

 

B Flat on Bass Clef Staff

B Flat on Bass Clef Staff

Similar to the sharp symbol, you can place the flat symbol next to the note that needs to be turned from its normal key, in this case B, to a Bb (B flat):

Flat Symbol Next To B On Bass Clef Staff

Flat Symbol Next To B On Bass Clef Staff

Let’s see where on the piano keyboard this particular key is located:

B Flat Key

B Flat Key

In the piano keyboard above, the key we’re looking for is sitting an octave, 1 key and a half step down from middle C. That means you will have to move you hand to the left on the keyboard to hit that particular B flat. Read the following explanation to learn more about sharps and flats.

Sharps and Flats – Using More Than One Symbol Per Line And Space

In the examples above, I showed how the sharps and flats would look individually but you can add all 14 (7 sharps and 7 flats) symbols to the staff lines and spaces. Before I show them on the grand staff, here is a list of each one:

Sharps Flats
C# D# E# F# G# A# B# Cb Db Eb Fb Gb Ab Bb

Let’s first see how the sharps would be placed on the grand staff:

Grand Staff Sharps

Grand Staff Sharps

In this image above, the two sharp symbols are on the keys of F and C, making them into F# and C#. When you play the D Major Scale, you end up playing F# and C# and if this score were to continue, you would automatically have to play F# and C# for both the treble and bass clef staffs.

Now let’s take a look at the flat symbol:

Grand Staff Flats

Grand Staff Flats

 

The E Flat Major Scale above has three flats – Bb Eb Ab and in this scale, you automatically start off by hitting Eb (the black key) instead of the white key. This goes for the key of Bb and Ab as well.

Having your sharps and flats listed next to the clef symbols will save a lot of time as you learn how to play a particular song. They stay present throughout the piece and prevents clutter as you read and learn the notes to play it.

Sharps and Flats – How To Reset Them

I mentioned above that certain notes within a musical piece can be turned into a sharp or flat just by placing the symbol next to the note. There are times when that note needs to go back to normal so that the D# or Bb will be played as D or B on the piano keyboard. The natural symbol will tell you to play the regular key on the keyboard:

Treble Clef Staff Lines w D Natural

Treble Clef Staff Lines w D Natural

Bass Clef Staff Lines w B Natural

Bass Clef Staff Lines w B Natural

With the natural symbols in place, you can play the white key of D on the treble clef and white key of B on the bass clef. You can see which keys to play in the images below and notice that the sharps and flats have been removed:

D Natural Key

D Natural Key

B Natural Key

B Natural Key

Conclusion

Knowing the difference between sharps and flats allows you to play a more diversified range of songs. Your piano lessons will continue to increase in performance and having these two symbols understood will assist you along the way.

Using the last two images above, where would Gb be placed? Leave your answer in the comments below.

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There are quite a few finger exercise books my mom bought me when I took piano lessons at a young age and they all helped increase the agility my fingers hadn’t had by getting them use to moving at different paces and reach a wider range of keys. One of the books that were helpful was an exercise book called Hanon-Schaum, Book 1and we’ll go through its contents and creator below.

Finger Exercises Using Hanon-Schaum For Piano Book 1

Charles-Louis Hanon was a well-known French pianist during the mid to late 1800s who wrote a very popular exercise book called
The Virtuoso Pianist in 60 Exercises – Complete (Comb-Bound)
. The finger exercises you’ll learn in Hanon-Schaum for Piano Book 1 contains 32 pages of techniques that strengthen your fingers and aides in learning how to play the piano better. Each piece is written with eighth notes to help you work at a faster pace, separates the play from the left hand and right hand by performing at a distance of two octaves from one another, and is geared towards children and adults.

There are a total of 24 lessons with the first 20 lasting one page each while lessons 21 through 24 are two pages long. Hanon-Schaum wanted to create as much agility in his pupils fingers by arranging notes in both ascending and descending order, getting as much exercise for each finger. This helps you think about the movement of your fingers as you play each note, almost similar to learning how to type.

Finger Exercises Using Hanon-Schaum For Piano Book 1 – Exercise 1 Excerpt

To see what kind of finger exercises you’ll get in this book, I’ve added an excerpt from it. It is the first exercise, simply called No. 1, showing the ascending lesson:

 

Excerpt From Hanon-Schaum For Piano Book 1

Excerpt From Hanon-Schaum For Piano Book 1

There are quite a few finger exercise books my mom bought me when I took piano lessons at a young age and they all helped increase the agility my fingers hadn’t had by getting them use to moving at different paces and reach a wider range of keys. One of the books that were helpful was an exercise book called Hanon-Schaum, Book 1and we’ll go through its contents and creator below.

Finger Exercises Using Hanon-Schaum For Piano Book 1

Charles-Louis Hanon was a well-known French pianist during the mid to late 1800s who wrote a very popular exercise book called The Virtuoso Pianist. The finger exercises you’ll learn in Hanon-Schaum for Piano Book 1 contains 32 pages of techniques that strengthen your fingers and aides in learning how to play the piano better. Each piece is written with eighth notes to help you work at a faster pace, separates the play from the left hand and right hand by performing at a distance of two octaves from one another, and is geared towards children and adults.

There are a total of 24 lessons with the first 20 lasting one page each while lessons 21 through 24 are two pages long. Hanon-Schaum wanted to create as much agility in his pupils fingers by arranging notes in both ascending and descending order, getting as much exercise for each finger. This helps you think about the movement of your fingers as you play each note, almost similar to learning how to type.

Finger Exercises Using Hanon-Schaum For Piano Book 1 – Exercise 1 Excerpt

To see what kind of finger exercises you’ll get in this book, I’ve added an excerpt from it. It is the first exercise, simply called No. 1, showing the ascending lesson:

Excerpt From Hanon-Schaum For Piano Book 1

There’s a lot of information here, so let’s break it down. Underneath the title of the lesson is a note for teachers and if you’re an aspiring piano teacher or a parent that wants to help your child with their lessons, this book has some helpful information in the forward. You don’t have to be a teacher or parent to use this book for your own personal lessons.

After that, you’re given directions on how to manage these exercises on a daily basis. You’ll learn one for the entire week, practicing it five times a day and the following week do the same for the new lesson, but repeat the previous week’s exercise once a day. Taking the time to practice like this everyday will increase your piano playing and reading skills.

The last part is the actual lesson that shows the starting finger positions for each note in the first bar for top and bottom clef staffs. This is done so that you’ll know how to approach each bar there after as you ascend and descend the keys on your piano keyboard.

Finger Exercises Using Hanon-Schaum For Piano Book 1 – Audio Files

Below are three audio files for this particular lesson. The first audio you’ll hear me play the treble clef notes, the second is of the bass clef notes, and finally the entire exercise. Click the play button to listen to the first clip (each audio file will open up in a new window):

 

Hanon Schaum Book 1 Treble Clef Exercise 1

Hanon Schaum Book 1 Bass Clef Exercise 1

Hanon Schaum Book 1 Exercise 1

Conclusion

Hanon-Schaum Book 1Hanon-Schaum, Book 1 is an excellent book for adults and children who are looking to begin taking piano lessons. The finger exercises are detailed in their arrangements but also provide a comfortable way to learn how to play the piano. If you’re interested in buying this book for your collection, click the image to the left to order yours today.

Did you try the lesson above? If so, were you able to figure out the descending part? Leave your comment below.

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My article entitled Beginning Piano Lessons – Learning The Treble Clef Staff, demonstrated how to read the top of two staves within a music sheet. It produces high notes that are played with your right hand.

The bottom staff, which contains the Bass Clef, tends to be learned after you’ve become comfortable with the higher pitch keys. Today, we will run through this staff and become acquainted with its use.

What is the Bass Clef?

The Bass Clef, also called the F clef because of the two dots surrounding the line on its staff, demonstrates the lower pitch keys on your piano keyboard. Sometimes coordinating your left hand with your right during your piano lessons, can be difficult since most people have problems playing well with their left hand. The best answer to this is to practice with your left hand as much as possible until you get the hang of it.

Take a look at the image below and see how the F clef looks and sits on its own staff:

 

Bass Clef Staff

Bass Clef Staff

What Piano Keys Represent The Bass Clef Lines?

The F clef lines represent the following keys on the piano keyboard – G B D F A:

 

Bass Clef with Named Staff Lines

F Clef with Named Staff Lines

Here’s the mnemonic I was taught for these keys:

Good Boys Do Fine Always

And these are the keys you’ll play:

Bass Clef Staff Keys

Bass Clef Staff Keys

 

What Piano Keys Does The Bass Clef Spaces Represent?

The spaces on the F clef represent the following letters – A C E G:

 

Bass Clef with Names for Staff Spaces

F Clef with Names for Staff Spaces

There wasn’t a mnemonic I was taught (or maybe I just don’t remember) for these letters so I just said to myself “ace” with the letter “g” at the end. Meh. It helped me but I’m sure you can think of something more helpful. Give me your suggestions below.

Here are the keys you’ll press for the spaces:

Bass Clef Staff Space Keys

Bass Clef Staff Space Keys

How Are Keys Represented Above & Below The Staff Lines

The keys to be played on this staff doesn’t stop with these five lines and four spaces. The range of the low pitches can go lower or a bit higher using ledger lines. They are short lines that demonstrate the notes you’ll play from the middle to far left of your piano keyboard:

Bass Clef Staff Lines Above Below

Bass Clef Staff Lines Above Below

 

To review the contents of this lesson, take a look at this video called How to Read the Bass Clef Staff.

Exercise

If you’ve absorbed the names of both the lines and spaces for the F Clef, click the following link to download some exercises that will test your memory: Bass Clef Exercises

Conclusion

Familiarizing yourself with the keys for the F clef for your left hand may be a challenge but with daily practice, you’ll know it like the back of your hand. HA!

Did you practice playing the keys from the staff above? Share your experience in the comments below.

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As I began to learn how to play the piano some years ago, it was much easier for me to play with my right hand being that I use it more often and struggled for awhile with my left. Whether you’re left or right handed, you’ll become a better piano player once you learn how to properly use each finger for the lessons you’ll begin and continue to learn.

In today’s lesson, you’ll learn how each finger works individually with the Treble and Bass Clefs and go through an excerpt of Schaum Fingerpower, Level One (Book) first exercise.

Learn How To Play The Piano – Right Hand Position

In my Treble Clef post, you learned that it produces mid-range to high pitches on your piano keyboard. The exercises in the books you’ll buy will display numbers from 1 – 5, telling you which finger you should use to play these high notes. Here is how the fingers on your right hand are numbered:

 

Right Hand Finger Positions

Right Hand Finger Positions

 

My thumb above is referenced as number 1, my index as number 2, middle finger as number 3, ring finger as number 4, and pinky as number 5. As you begin to learn how to play the piano, you’ll see the RH, Right Hand, in beginner lesson books, mainly for kids, but there are many that are adult-friendly, providing the necessary information for you to easily understand.

Learn How To Play The Piano – Left Hand Position

Your left hand will attune itself to the keys that are played in the bass clef staff and is also numbered but in a mirrored version of the right hand:

 

Left Hand Finger Positions

Left Hand Finger Positions

 

For our left hand in the picture above, the thumb is number 1, index finger number 2, middle finger 3, ring finger 4, and pinky 5. The letters LH will refer to your left hand in some music pieces but when you learn how to play the piano for advance pieces, the fingering positions and the LH & RH notations won’t appear. By then you should have a feel as to which fingers you should use to play certain notes.

Learn How To Play The Piano – Schaum Fingerpower Lesson One

Now that you know the purpose of each finger for both hands, let’s see how to use them in a sheet of music. The image below is a partial lesson from Schaum Fingerpower, Level One (Book)and it shows both the treble and bass clefs and the notes you will play. I added the additional content below the grand staff just so you’ll know what they mean. We’ll get into what each one does as you continue to learn how to play the piano in future posts:

 

John W. Schaum FingerPower Lesson 1 Excerpt

John W. Schaum FingerPower Lesson 1 Excerpt

 

The first two bars for both the treble and bass clefs have a number next to the half notes. These are the fingers that you’ll use to play them. Number 1 on the treble clef staff is your RH thumb and number 2 is your RH index finger. Number 5 on the bass clef staff is your LH pinky and number 4 is your LH ring finger.

This exercise, as well as the many you’ll see in your journey to learn how to play the piano, will guide your fingers in the proper manner. Take a look at the images below and place your fingers in the same positions on your piano keyboard:

Right Hand Finger Positions For Schaum Piece

Right Hand Finger Positions For Schaum Piece

 

Left Hand Fingering for Schaum Piece

Left Hand Fingering for Schaum Piece

Now with your hands in the proper position, try to play the notes within the music sheet above. To help you out, I’ve added three audio files of me playing this piece. The first one is of my right hand, the second is of my left, and the last is of the entire exercise. Click the links below to hear them individually (each file will open up in a new window):

Right Hand

John W. Schaum Right Hand Play of Exercise 1

Left Hand

John W. Schaum Left Hand Play of Exercise 1

Full Piece

John W. Schaum FingerPower Exercise 1 Book 1

Conclusion

Schaum Fingerpower, Level OneUnderstanding how your fingers work when playing your piano lessons is the first step to becoming a better pianist. There are more exercises like this in the Schaum Fingerpower, Level One (Book) and to get them, click the image to order your copy and begin building your piano repertoire.

Did you try the piece above? Were you able to figure out the pattern based on the excerpt? Share your experience in the comments below.

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