Do you read both treble and bass clefs?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by the ombudsman, Apr 1, 2005.

  1. I'm currently working on my reading skills. Should I concentrate exclusively on the bass clef or should I learn both? Won't it be confusing learning both clefs?

    How many of you read both clefs, and how useful is it?

    How many of you read only bass clef, and do you feel it's holding you back in some way?

    I guess not too many of you read only treble clef!

  2. JazzBassvb


    Aug 5, 2003
    I know both.

    I learned treble first as I first learned Trumpet, then in high school I played Tuba, then Bass, then Baritone.

    I can go back and forth between the two pretty well I guess. Treble is still easier for me since I have more time with it, but it works out.

    Personally, I don't see anything wrong with learning both. Much sheet music (band books and such) have piano scores that you can get a rough idea of how their basslines work. It'll help a little if you know Treble clef, since melodies are pretty much always written on the treble clef.

    When I've written stuff, if I divide between treble and bass clef, it's easier for me to read. I'll divide at C and keep the low parts on bass clef, and whatever tapping or chords on treble.

    I really should learn how to read notes higher up on bass clef (above F), but I haven't had a reason to yet. I did some when I played Baritone, but not very much and it's been almost 10 years.

  3. Dincrest


    Sep 27, 2004
    New Jersey
    I read both. I was mostly a bass clef guy because prior to playing bass I played baritone horn. But my bass teacher taught me how to read treble clef because he said, "Neal, you never know when a guitarist or someone will give you a sheet with his part of the music and you have to work off it. So that is why I'm going to teach you to read treble clef." I loved my old bass teacher. He was a major advocate of good reading skills.

    And it has helped me tremendously to be able to read both. When I was teaching kindergarten, I would learn the melody parts of Disney songs and stuff to play for the kids. Since those music books were written for piano, I needed to be able to read treble clef to transpose it to bass.

    Was it difficult learning to read initially? I certainly got the clefs confused, but after some practice, I was able to sight read treble and bass clef parts without confusing the two. It was just a matter of turning my brain's cognitive transfer process into something automatic through practice.
  4. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    I read both. It's very useful.
  5. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    Treble clef, bass clef,alto, and tenor clefs....being a music major kinda forces you to do everything...
  6. Marcus Willett

    Marcus Willett Supporting Member

    Feb 8, 2005
    Palm Bay, FL
    Endorsing Artist: Bag End - Dean Markley - Thunderfunk
    At work, I gotta read charts so bass clef is my main thing. I can read treble fine, just that it might take a sec if I gotta sight read a line or figure. I have to make charts for the band, so I have to be able to do both. It's really not too bad. They're just off by a 3rd, i.e., A is still a space, just one higher, D is still a line, etc. Most of the music world functions in treble clef, plain and simple. If you want to communicate effectively, it's best to know both.
  7. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    What Dincrest said.
    reading both is no more or less confusing than reading English and Spanish. You gotta practice both and the more you do it, the easier it is.
  8. Yeah, definitely read both. It took me a while to get totally comfortable with treble clef, but practice, practice, practice
  9. HamOnTheCob

    HamOnTheCob Jacob Moore Supporting Member

    Nov 21, 2004
    Cambridge, Ohio, USA
    Endorsing Artist for Warwick Basses, Mesa Engineering, Joyo Technology, Dr. J Pedals, and Levy's Leathers
    For whatever reason, I learned treble and have never really learned bass clef. LoL Kinda backwards for a bass player, I know...

  10. Tash


    Feb 13, 2005
    Bel Air Maryland
    +1...nothing like failing a sightreading exam because the teacher throws you a bunch of examples in Alto...
  11. Sweet! I'm a plain treble and bass clef guy myself. Glad to hear someone has their alto and tenor clefs down. I hear if you play string bass that's one of the things you just HAVE to know.
  12. CQBASS


    Dec 1, 2004
    Asheville NC
    I read both but admittedly my treble clef is a little better. It's from growing up playing horns I guess. It's nice to be able to use anyone's realbook though.
  13. Chris A

    Chris A Chemo sucks!

    Feb 25, 2000
    Manchester NH
    I was a music major and we heard about alto and tenor clef, but never had to read it or sight read it. I see it now because my son is learning viola and he reads it well. I have to work at it. The point of the clef is on the line that's supposed to be middle C. It's weird having C be the middle of the staff.

    Chris A. :rolleyes: :bassist:
  14. Whafrodamus


    Oct 29, 2003
    Andover, MA
    Yes. But that other silly cleff, nobody reads besides those damn viola players.
  15. Commreman

    Commreman Faith, Family, Fitness, and Frets Supporting Member

    Feb 12, 2005
    New Jersey
    Yes. It helps with my understanding of harmony. It also helps me help my kids with thier piano lessons!
  16. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    I read both. Took me months to learn treble ten years ago. Years to learn bass clef after picking up the instrument. Still can't do alto or tenor clef.
  17. i cant sight read....but i learnt treble clef years ago, being a pianist.....then i learnt bass clef when i swapped to bass....and i started to learn alto clef at the same time
  18. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    A Sears music degree or a Real music degree ? lol
  19. Don't you have to read both when playing piano?
  20. pretty much yeah