Is it harmful to learn the treble clef as well?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by sheepshank, Aug 9, 2020.

  1. sheepshank


    Sep 27, 2013
    Hi Basstalkers,

    Im a musician thats been struggling to learn reading sheet music for most of my playing life. Started out on guitar and read mostly tabs and some sheet music. Lately I´ve only studied bass and bass clef.

    The problem is, I have started practising some etudes i treble clef, and I mix it up so much. I dont notice Im off until things starting to sound awkward and then I realize Im in the wrong key or clef. Some of it actually sounds cool in both clefs tho.

    Has anyone experienced the same? Should I stick to one clef or just continue with both, hoping that I get better at reading both clefs?

    have a nice day,
    Espen :)
    AdeptBerry likes this.
  2. thabassmon


    Sep 26, 2013
    New Zealand
    I read both so I don't think it's harmful, but I do think it may be confusing if you are still getting your sight reading together. It'll probably make the whole process of making it fluent take longer.
    lamarjones, jmlee and sheepshank like this.
  3. BrotherMister


    Nov 4, 2013
    PVG Membership
    It's absolutely not detrimental to learn treble clef. If anything it opens up a lot more music to you. Interesting enough all the bass clef readers I know such as cellists, bassoonists etc are all great readers in treble (some of us in alto and tenor) as well, but the treble readers all struggle with bass clef.
  4. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    Given that a 24-fret 4-string bass range goes from E on the first ledger line below bass clef to G in the first space above treble clef, I think it is useful to learn both.
    YMMV, IME, etc...
    bassb66 and sheepshank like this.
  5. Jefenator

    Jefenator Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2008
    A case could be made to concentrate limited study time on the clef you’ll actually be using with your chosen instrument.
    That said, I’ve never found it to be detrimental to spend some time in treble clef land.
    As a matter of fact, I do sometimes get asked to join in on a figure written in treble clef on a chart. So for me that’s more than sufficient practical justification.
    Wasnex and sheepshank like this.
  6. rufus.K


    Oct 18, 2015
    Totally harmful.
    Never do it.
    dmt, red_rhino, Remoman and 4 others like this.
  7. ugly_bassplayer

    ugly_bassplayer Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2009
    Learn both treble and bass clef.

  8. sonojono

    sonojono Supporting Member

    Feb 13, 2013
    I have to cause I write out charts for guitar players in my band as well as bass. It’s good to learn both clefs including the Alto clef :thumbsup:
    Tosh and sheepshank like this.
  9. Real Soon

    Real Soon

    Aug 15, 2013
    Atlanta, GA
    Something that might help is looking at both clefs together, i.e. piano music. That puts them in context, so the reason they're placed as they are makes more sense. And if you learn a little piano while you're at it, no harm there either!
    dmt, Joebone, Low Crow and 2 others like this.
  10. It is not harmful. Most musicians I know read more than one clef.

    While clefs are second nature to me now, and I can effortlessly slide between them, I do remember what it was like when I first started learning treble. Like you I got confused sometimes.

    All I can say is, stick it out. The long term benefits outweigh the short term confusion.
  11. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    It can never hurt to know both - ask any pianist...
    Low Crow, Joedog and sheepshank like this.
  12. BluesWalker

    BluesWalker Supporting Member

    Jun 17, 2008
    San Diego
    It is a good thing to kniw
    sheepshank likes this.
  13. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    I first learned violin and school choir and we were taught treble clef in 2nd grade. But shortly afterward I studied piano at home and grew interested in cello so bass clef was important. I think the best way to learn to read is concurrently with both bass and treble clefs. That's how music is historically written so it makes sense to not skip half the process no matter what instrument you are learning. In my opinion.

    But also in my opinion the symbolic scripture that we use could use a little tweeking. Like many things in our lives, what worked for European aristocrats a thousand years ago is not bad, just could be more user-friendly.
    sheepshank likes this.
  14. It’s a good thing to know how to read both treble and bass clef, but I might recommend sticking to one clef at first until you feel confident. Then start with the second clef. I became fluent in reading treble clef (clarinet in school band) before learning bass clef. And bass clef came easy very quickly since I already had a solid sight reading base.

    Can you focus on both clefs in the beginning? - yes. Like all things, people learn the same thing in different ways. But if you’re getting hung up, I’d recommend focusing on just one clef for a while until you feel better at sight reading.
    ObsessiveArcher and sheepshank like this.
  15. Dont do it...
    You'll morph into a keyboard player.
    Then you have to get a cape...etc.
    Bad juju. :smug:
    Chrisenbacker69, dmt, Alik and 3 others like this.
  16. Papageno


    Nov 16, 2015
    Harmful? Are you kidding?

    How could it possibly be harmful to be a better educated and more competent musician?

    Treble clef is the most used clef and will give you access to tons of music and enable you to communicate with zillions of musicians.
    Big Hoss, SteveCS and sheepshank like this.
  17. WestyBassBob

    WestyBassBob Supporting Member

    Mar 2, 2020
    You really can't play bass if you don't know what the treble clef is playing. By all means read, listen and learn.
    sheepshank and Papageno like this.
  18. Papageno


    Nov 16, 2015
    Best advice in this thread. You can learn both clefs simultaneously in this way, understanding how they connect to each other.

    You can safely ignore C clefs.
    Tosh and sheepshank like this.
  19. Manticore


    Feb 27, 2016
    I would think it mandatory. Reading well makes life so much easier.
    sheepshank likes this.
  20. Smooth_bass88

    Smooth_bass88 vaxx! Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2006
    North AMERICA, USA
    Having more musical knowledge can't possibly be harmful in any possible way.
    sheepshank likes this.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

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