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Learn to Read Music: Leger Lines In Treble Clef

Updated on November 18, 2009

Introduction

If you have been learning to read music, you may have noticed that all of the notes cannot fit on the 5 lines and 4 spaces of the staff. Once you have learned the basics of musical notation and how to read the notes on the staff in Treble Clef, you are ready to learn to read those notes that are above or below the staff.

What are Leger Lines?

The small lines you may have seen above or below the staff are called leger lines.

Reading Leger Lines

To read the notes on leger lines, you simply "count" up or down through the note names for the clef you are using.

Line and Space Names

Now let's look at Treble Clef. Do you remember the names of the lines and spaces in Treble Clef? (If you need to review the basics of music reading, see the resources section for an article about reading notes in Treble Clef.)

In Treble Clef, the line names are: E, G, B, D and F, and the space names are: F, A, C, E.

To figure out the names of the notes on or in between the leger lines, simply "count" up through the note names. (For example, you know the top line of the staff in Treble Clef is F. The note sitting on top of the staff would be G . . . Then A on the 1st leger line . . . B on top of the 1st leger line . . . C on the 2nd leger line, etc.) See picture.

To read music on leger lines below the staff, "count" backwards through the note names. (Tip: It's like saying the alphabet backwards--except that you only need 7 letters instead of 26.) The note names are A,B,C,D,E,F and G. Backwards, this is G,F,E,D,C,B and A.

Let's "count" backwards to figure out the names of leger lines below the staff. We know that the bottom line of the staff in Treble Clef is E. The note sitting directly under the staff would be D . . . Then C on the 1st leger line . . . Then B directly under the 1st leger line . . . A on the 2nd leger line, etc. See picture.

As you read leger lines more and more, you will become faster at reading. It will get easier with time.

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Tips

  • It will take a little time before you recognize each note on a leger line at sight. Until you are able to recognize these pitches at sight, "count" up to the leger line notes from the staff.

  • Flash cards of notes with leger lines will help you learn to read these notes at sight in a shorter amount of time.

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      Quinn, The Percussionist 4 years ago

      Thanks, a lot!This really helped me on my notes. I never noticed how it worked until I read it here!!! This is awesome! Thanks! :D

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      asdfghjkl 4 years ago

      This really helps so much :) thank you

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      kelly 3 years ago

      this helps me so much thanyou:)

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