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Learn to Read Music: Leger Lines in Bass Clef

Updated on October 19, 2009
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How do you read those notes that are above or below the staff?

Learning to read leger lines in bass clef is not difficult, but it does take practice.

What are Leger Lines?

Some notes are written on small lines above or below the staff. These small lines are called leger lines.

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

How Do You Read Leger Lines Above the Staff?

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 Bass Clef is A. The note sitting on top of the staff would be B . . . Then C on the 1st leger line . . . D on top of the 1st leger line . . . E on the 2nd leger line, etc.) See picture.

How Do You Read Leger Lines Below the Staff?

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.

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

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Image courtesy of


  • 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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