The staff

The staff, also known as the stave or the staff lines, is a set of five horizontal lines and four spaces that are used to notate music. Each line and space represents a different pitch or note, which allows musicians to read and play music from sheet music.

To begin, let’s start by looking at a blank staff. Here is what it looks like:


As you can see, there are five lines and four spaces. The lines and spaces are numbered from bottom to top, starting with the bottom line as the first line, and ending with the top space as the fourth space.

The notes are placed on the staff by their pitch, or how high or low they sound. Here is a diagram showing where the notes are placed on the staff:


As you can see, each note is placed on a specific line or space on the staff. The note names are as follows:

  • The bottom line is E
  • The first space is F
  • The second line is G
  • The second space is A
  • The third line is B
  • The third space is C
  • The fourth line is D
  • The fourth space is E (an octave higher than the bottom line)

To help you remember these note names, you can use a mnemonic device such as “Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge” to remember the notes on the lines, and “FACE” to remember the notes in the spaces.

Now that you know the basics of the staff, let’s try writing some notes on it. Here is a simple melody:


As you can see, the melody consists of four notes: G, A, B, and C. Each note is placed on a specific line or space on the staff, and the duration of each note is indicated by the shape of the note (e.g. a filled-in circle represents a quarter note).

To play this melody, you would start on the second line of the staff (G), then move up to the second space (A), the third line (B), and finally the third space (C).

Practice writing and playing simple melodies on the staff until you feel comfortable with it. The staff is an essential tool for reading and writing music, so it’s important to master it as a musician. Good luck!

Grade 12 – Reading List

Learning to Read