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I learned to read sheet music as a member of my schools choirs, 7th grade through
senior year, some 28 years ago, but I can't remember which goes where or what
order they go.

I remember Every Good Boy Does Fine representing E G B D F and

Good Boys Do Fine Always representing G B D F A and

All Cows Eat Grass representing A C E G

My question is: what are the names of the notes on sheet music?

  • I learnt the first mnemonic as "every good boy deserves fruit". – No'am Newman May 12 '14 at 8:02
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    This is the bad way to learn to read notes, can you tell me what the note on the third ledger line above the staff is on the treble cleff, I can it is a E, good luck knowing that if you learn it this way. – Neil Meyer May 22 '17 at 18:28
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EGBDF is for the lines on the treble clef.

So the line on the very bottom is E and the line on the very top is F. The spaces in between the lines are F A C E. So you end up with a treble clef EFGABCDEF

Just remember EGBDF - Every Good Boy Does Fine is for the lines of the treble clef. FACE is for the spaces in between the line. F being the space in the bottom of the staff and E being the space on the top.

GBDFA is for the lines on the bass clef.

Similar to the treble clef, G will be the line on the very bottom and A will be the line on the very top. ACEG - All cows eat grass works, I learned it as ACE gorilla. Those are for the spaces in between the lines. So you end up with GABCDEFGA. A being the space on the bottom, G being the space on the top.

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Further to the answer above, don't forget the missing 'middle C', which floats in between the two staves. The treble has E as its lowest note, and the bass has A as its highest,so there's room for the C on its own little line whenever it's needed.Above it, hanging just below the bottom line, is where D lives, and on top of the bass stave, under C, is B.

This is complicated by the fact that sometimes, notes below C are written in the treble , and will need their own ledger line. Thus an A below middle C, for example,will be found on the second little ledger line down.

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This post will help the older beginner - or those that struggle with music. I learned the sayings years ago. Had years of classical and play well by ear. For those that have struggled for years , like me this may help them. I have always been a a poor note reader. When you first begin little sayings will help you and I still use them, but I have moved away from them...I became a much better music reader when I forced myself to learn the notes for what they were. Patterns have helped me. Things I have noticed: middle C is shared . D directly above and below the base clef is equidistant. Two lines down below the base clef is C. Two lines above the treble clef is C also. There are a few others that may be of assistance.

Three lines or spaces make up a fifth. (I will give a lot of info here not as a way to be erudite, which I'm not, but to fully explain terms). The fifth of C is G, so a good example is middle C (which is a line) to second line G. It works consistently. Of course this works out as fourths going down. Note that this automatically takes care of the major minor intervals. Look at the lines in treble clef EGB; the B is the fifth of E. I realize this may be old hat to many, but I want to be thorough. Pick any three lines, or spaces, they will form a major triad eg. CEG, or let's try spaces ACE; this will be the A minor triad. The beautiful thing about this is that the fifth will not change.

The third will change so that will not be a consistent way to remember your notes This is useful in a myriad of ways. The bottom clef lines are GBDFA. I see a D line and I temporarily forget its name. Now remember this bottom clef. I mentally look three lines up and see A. I now know that the note in question is D. For reference the circle of fifths is BEADGCF and is basically derived by saying what's the fourth of B? Oh E. What's the fourth of E? ( I will go in depth here for clarity) remember to go up in the key of E in this case.. so E,F#,G# A, so A is the fourth of E. So let's say I'm in the bass clef. I can't remember what the space just above the bass clef is ( it is a B), so I re go down three spaces (remember this works for lines or spaces) I go down three spaces B,G,E .. now that would be one way, but the faith is much faster.

Three spaces down is E. You don't need to go down the notes that is time consuming and makes you have to do three of four things, which will hinder music reading. Just see the space above the clef and know that's B, then think that's easy, B is the fifth of E.

I am doing this on a flip phone I hope this is clear.I have gone from reading music very poorly to just poorly. I am working on the hard parts of Fur Elise, Alla Turca, Solfegietto etc., and various things I have done years ago. I think Menuette in G by Bach is an excellent piece to learn. I also have found slow play is a good way to learn and memorize pieces.

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I don't think you need to memorize all the notes. Once you definitely memorize a few landmark notes, so to say, you can instantly work out the gaps alphabetically, with a little bit of practice on your instrument.

Here's an example of a mnemonic that helped me: enter image description here

So let me explain:

  • You can see that the C note repeats on the third white row in both directions (treble and bass cleff) from middle C.
  • Then, on the second staff line of both cleffs, comes the note that gives the cleff its name. Yes, the treble cleff is also known as the G cleff, while the bass cleff is also known as the F cleff. That's easy to identify graphically, given the cleff symbol.
  • Then comes the first note to use a ledger line, for both cases. I like to memorize them as GA (baby language) and FE (feline).

I hope this can be helpful.

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When I was teaching privately, I taught all the students music reading the same way, no matter what instrument, because it worked. I used flash cards; I just made them rather than having the student buy them. Maybe five notes a week. On the front was a picture of the note, and on the back was the name. They had to see the picture, name the name, and that was Part 1. We went through he deck until they had all five quickly (not in order because they would memorize it rather than the note names...) Part 2 was different. They had to see the note, and play it on their instrument. So learning the names and where to play it were separate processes. Good music readers do not see the note, think "oh that is a D so I have to play it here;" they see the picture and play it. They can still tell you the name (which is necessary when a key signature is present....all the Fs are # so you have to know what all the Fs are, etc) but the two processes, in my belief, should be separate. having to name it before you can play it slows your time to half what it would be if you didn't have to name it. Yes you need the names, but don't do it the long way. Learn both, separately, and you can end up being a good sight reader. Rhythm can be taught similarly, but I like to teach the "rhythm by ear" first, and then show them what it looks like to make the mental connection. So they can play four notes to a beat before they know what that looks like on music. Then it's old hat because they already know how to do it, and lo and behold this is what it looks like.

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