# How to play and read scales when the treble clef appears with the bass?

In the ABRSM scales, eg. Level 3 E Major, the treble clef appears on the bass clef. Do I read as treble but play with my left hand? Thank you in anticipation

• Do you mean the treble clef appears on the bottom staff where the bass clef usually is? – J. Lenthe Feb 10 at 13:26
• Can you post an image of the notation? – Michael Curtis Feb 10 at 14:45

Pretty straightforward. You're playing two hands together, so follow r.h. all the way up on treble clef. L.h. starts on bass clef - that's basically what the bass clef is for - and goes for one octave. After that, the notes go too high for the bass clef, and would have to be all on ledger lines, so they're shown as the lower notes on the treble clef, going up the second octave. You didn't think they all had to be played with r.h., did you?! This is only grade III...

Don't understand 'the treble clef appears on the bass clef'.

Scales will follow the pattern of playing each note sequentially ascending, then return descending, so it's pretty logical.

• Hello Tim, thanks for your reply. In my ignorance I thought you had to play right handed when notated (if that’s the correct phrase) that way – Bryan Feb 10 at 21:26

I think you are mixing up clef with stave.

A stave or staff is the group of lines, five is modern, four is very old, and there are sometimes other unusual numbers of lines. Clefs are the symbols used to assign pitches to the staff.

...the treble clef appears on the bass clef.

It appears on the lower stave of the system.

It's not a bass clef unless the stave has a bass clef.

...Do I read as treble but play with my left hand?

Yes, unless for some reason the part is marked in the score with something like `R.H.` to mean play this lower stave with the right hand.

• Have a look at ABRSM grade III scales. It will make more sense to you, as this doesn't answer the question, I think. – Tim Feb 10 at 14:31
• I don't have those books. I assumed it was a piano grand staff. Is this a single stave, starting with an F clef and then switching to G clef? If a single stave didn't give a hand indication you could use either one. – Michael Curtis Feb 10 at 14:43
• It's Googleable. Comes up with the page of clearly written scales . – Tim Feb 10 at 15:21
• Thank you Michael, yes I did mix stave with clef, I now understand the reason for the notation and how to play the scale – Bryan Feb 10 at 21:19
• @the-baby-is-you - being even more pedantic - staff and stave are interchangeable - in music either is used in the singular. Plural is staves. Staffs is a county in England... – Tim Feb 11 at 8:44

Do I read as treble but play with my left hand?

Yes, of course. Obviously you know how to read both clefs (bass and treble) you're just wondering why in the left hand the treble clef appears. you're practicing scales: they go from the lowest key up to the highest key of the piano. Imagine this notes were written in the bass clef: You had to decipher so many ledger lines that you always had to count them first with your fingers.

There's no difference between the treble clef in the l.h. and the r.h. - only that the l.h. (respectively your brain) is not used to read treble clef for the l.h. and give the command to the l.h. So you can play this passage first with the r.h. and then let the l.h. follow what the r.h. was doing. It will take you only a short time to get adapted to it.

N.B You will encounter the opposite "problem" when the r.h. will play lower than the middle C, the bass clef will appear in the staff for the r.h.

I've just encountered this original handwriting by Bach: In bar 5 you can see how the l.h. is playing in the c-clef staff of the r.h. but here it is quite clear that the lower part is played by the l.h.

• My thanks to you all for taking the time to educate me – Bryan Feb 12 at 19:54