I do not understand why there are two treble cleff staves and why there are music notes in the middle of the two staves. Which hand should I play those notes with and why are there two treble cleff staffs? Thanks for any help! :)

Here is a picture of what I am talking about just in case someone needs clarification.


  • Good question. The sheet music for the song 'Steppin Out' by Joe Jackson has two treble clefs just like this and I was wondering how that was to be played.
    – Rich
    Commented Jan 31, 2020 at 18:47

5 Answers 5

  • The top staff is the (vocal) melody. In principle this could be given to the vocal performer by itself for him/her to sing from in a vocalist+pianist type of situation; as the pianist, you do not play these.
  • The lower two staves comprise the grand staff common to piano music. As indicated in other answers this is organized so as to show the right vs. left hand parts to be played on the instrument. In principle, the grand staff by itself could be provided to the piano player in a vocalist+pianist type of situation.

The two staffs on a piano grand staff are primarily used to differentiate between your left and right hands. Sometimes, the left hand will need to play notes in the treble clef range, and sometimes the right hand will be playing notes in the bass clef range. In those cases, you will have two treble or bass clefs. In this case, however, the piano music is only in the two staffs with the brace around them at the left. The treble staff at the top of the page is only for a singer.

When you have notes between two staffs, you will still be able to tell which staff the notes are associated with based on where the ledger lines come from and where the note stems go.

In this case, the notes in the middle of the grand staff are on ledger lines that extend from the treble clef, and the stems are pointing down, indicating they are in the lower voice of the treble clef. In your example, they are As and C#s.


Notice that on the middle stave, the notes with up tails are exactly the same as the notes on the top stave.This is because the right hand, playing the middle stave, is producing the melody line.

On the middle line are also notes with down tails.These are part of the accompaniment, played with right hand. The bottom line is standard bass, played with left hand.

The top line in songs written out in this way will always be the melody line, to go with the words printed above.

The other part of your question is answered with - the notes on LEDGER LINES are too low to fit on the middle stave, but too high to be played using the left hand. So they are written like that to make the tune playable. As in the second bar, the A and middle C# can be reached using the right hand, while the left hand plays a low F#.You wouldn't reach the A/C# with your left hand, whilst holding the low F#.

Also note that with ordinary music, written in standard form using treble/bass clefs, the tails are generally put up or down to keep it all looking tidy, so it's not going to be the same format as your example.

  • Actually, in the second bar, there should be a note to represent the word 'the' shown on the 'middle' stave.
    – Tim
    Commented Jul 30, 2013 at 6:07
  • that would indicate that the note is to be sung, but is not included as part of the accompaniment.
    – Dave
    Commented Jul 30, 2013 at 16:35
  • All the other notes are included in the top of the right hand tune, why not that one?
    – Tim
    Commented Jul 30, 2013 at 21:02
  • 2
    The top voice of the accompaniment does not have to be identical to the sung melody; in this case it is 99% the same, but there are other songs where the top piano voice diverges more from the sung melody.
    – Dave
    Commented Jul 30, 2013 at 21:09
  • @Tim: If pianist uses the right thumb and index finger to play the lower A's and C#'s in the treble clef, the distances between the fingers will be reasonable, but adding a "D" to the mix would require that it be played with the middle finger--quite a stretch from the upper "A". That having been said, I'm surprised the fourth beat doesn't omit the C# so as to free up the index finger for the E. Otherwise, playing that beat smoothly would seem to require six fingers.
    – supercat
    Commented Apr 25, 2014 at 18:30

I know this is wrong in a pure sense. BUT think of the three staves as a lead sheet. The top G clef is the melody line and the both two staves are the chords. This assumes a piano solo.


May this not be counted as a complete answer for I unfortunately do not have enough reputation to comment.

A few possibilities:

  • the top staff is for another instrument or vocals (in which case I think it would possibly be smaller);
  • I think the piece might be written for an organ as well.
    (see Bach's Toccata and Fugue example);
  • as others have stated, the two lower staves are the grand staff;
  • the player might play the first staff with the right hand, and the two lower ones with the left hand; I've encountered such a piece once.

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