Part 2 – Hack the Code: Tricks to Read Music Fast and Easy

Part 2 – Hack the Code: Tricks to Read Music Fast and Easy Part 2 – Hack the Code: Tricks to Read Music Fast and Easy

In Part 1 of Hack the Code, you learned some valuable music reading skills including how to identify the notes on treble and bass clef.

In Part 2, you will build upon this knowledge and learn about the grand staff, sharps and flats, and some enharmonic equivalents. Make sure you have thoroughly understood everything in Part 1 before beginning!

The Grand Staff

Now that you know the notes on the treble and bass clef staff, it is time to combine their forces into the grand staff! The grand staff is the combination of treble and bass clef joined together with a bracket on the left side.

Check out the diagram below for the arrangement of the grand staff:

Pretty grand looking, right?

The grand staff is used to notate piano music because it provides more range than the treble or bass clef could on their own. Generally, the parts played by the right hand are notated in treble clef and the parts played by the left hand are notated in bass clef.

All the Notes on the Grand Staff

Check out the diagram below to discover all the notes on the grand staff:

Are there any notes on here you do not recognize from your exploration of the treble and bass clefs?

The Truth of Middle C Revealed

Can you find middle C on the grand staff? Do you see how it is directly in the middle of treble and bass clef on the grand staff? Can you connect this visual of all the notes on the grand staff to the piano with middle C as the center point?

New Notes Around Middle C

Two new notes appear around middle C on the grand staff. The note B is directly below middle C on the keyboard, on the first space above the staff in bass clef. The note D is found directly above middle C on the keyboard, on the first space below the staff in treble clef.


What kinds of patterns are you noticing with the notes on the grand staff? How many notes fit inside of each clef? Which notes are repeated? Are any notes not repeated? Which pitches have more than one octave notated on the grand staff?

Can you see how the notes in the bass clef are shifted down one line or space from the notes in treble clef? For example, can you see how G is on the second line of the treble clef and the first line of the bass clef? Or can you see how C is on the second space in the bass clef and the third space in treble clef?

More on Sharps and Flats

So far, you have only seen natural (♮) notes on the grand staff. Natural notes are notes that are not sharp (♯) or flat (♭). Remember sharp means the note is raised one half-step, or one key, and flat means the note is lowered by one half-step, or one key.

This note is called C sharp or C♯ and is notated here in treble clef:

And is found here on the keyboard in case you got a little lost:

Now can you find D on the keyboard? And then move down one key from D? This note is called D flat or D♭ and is notated on the staff like this:

And here on the keyboard:

Enharmonic Equivalents

What do you notice about the position of C♯ and D♭ on the keyboard? They are the same key, right? Two different pitches, written in two different ways on the staff but played by the same key on the keyboard. How is this possible? C♯ and D♭ are called enharmonic equivalents . Enharmonic equivalents are two notes that are notated differently but share the same pitch and key on the keyboard.

Check out the diagram below for all these combinations notated in treble clef:

Sharps and Flats in Bass Clef

All of this is true for bass clef as well. Find the C on the second space of the bass clef on your keyboard. Next, move up one key from this C to find C♯. After that, find the D on the third line of the bass clef and move down one key to find D♭. Is it starting to make sense?

Here are all the enharmonic equivalents notated on the bass clef:

Tying it All Together in Part 2

In Part 2 of Hack the Code, you learned how to tie the treble and bass clefs together into the grand staff, the truth behind middle C, and some basic information about accidentals and enharmonic equivalents. You are well on your way to becoming a full-fledged musical wizard!

Reading music is a beneficial skill to add to your production repertoire. It will open new doors to understanding music and can deepen your creative skills as well. However, like anything music-related, it takes time and practice to hone your skills. Hopefully, this two part article will help you strengthen your music reading skills and aid you on your musical journey!

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