There are rhymes I use for each clef. The first letter of each word represents the note on the line or space starting from the bottom of the clef. I have found that these rhymes are the easiest to remember.

Treble clef
EVERY GREEN BUS DRIVES FAST (EGBDF) for the lines and FACE for the spaces.
Bass Clef
GOOD BIRDS DONT FLY AWAY (GBDFA) for the lines and ALL COWS EAT GRASS for the spaces.

When you get to the top of the stave the rhymes switch around. Starting from the top line of the treble clef the lines become FACE and the spaces become EGBDF from the top space. This works also for the bass clef.

There are also rhymes that I use for the order of sharps and flats:-
You will notice the order of sharps is the same as the flats reading backwards.
These rhymes are also helpful when learning key signatures and scales. If you start with C (cats or cold) using a 0 underneath it, then the numbers follow in order, eg. G has 1 sharp, D has 2 sharps etc. Or F has 1 flat, Bb has 2 flats etc.

Furry Cats Growl Dangerously After Eating Bones
6 0 1 2 3 4 5

Be English And Don't Get Cold Feet
2 3 4 5 6 0 1


To get a minor scale you can use the rhymes above. Each minor has a related major scale, that means they share a key signature. You must count down 3 semitones from a major scale to find its related major scale. Eg. Bb major, down 3 semitones is G minor, they both share the key signature of Bb and Eb.
I always think of it as a minor is in the ground and a major is higher up.
There are three different types of minor scale.
Diatonic or Natural Minor play as the key signature says
Harmonic Minor play as the key signature and also raise the 7th note
Melodic Minor play as the key signature, but raise the 6th and 7th going up and lower the 6th and 7th going down.


An interval is the distance between 2 notes, counting both the bottom and top note and every letter name in between. The bottom note of an interval represents the tonic (first) note of a scale.
An interval of a major 3rd from D is F#, DEF for the 3rd and the F# because this is the third note of the D major scale.
All 4ths, 5ths and 8ths are called perfect because the major and minor scales have the exact same note as the 4th, 5th and 8th notes.
A diminished interval is a semitone (the very next note) less than a minor interval.
An augumented interval is a semitone more than a major interval.
An inverted interval is an interval turned upside down. Eg. C-G is a perfect 5th but inverted, it becomes G-C, a perfect 4th. When intervals are inverted they turn into the opposite of the original. Augumented becomes diminished and major becomes minor, and vice versa. 2nds become 7ths, 3rds become 6ths and 4ths become 5ths.


Tonic 1st note
Supertonic 2nd note
Mediant 3rd note
Sub Dominant 4th note
Dominant 5th note
Sub Mediant 6th note
Leading Note 7th note


A tonic triad is a chord that starts on the 1st note of a scale, like an arpeggio, using the 1st, 3rd and 5th notes, but played together, and so written on top of each other.

First inversion triads are where you take the bottom note and place it on top. Tonic Triad of C major = CEG. In its first inversion it becomes EGC and then 2nd inversion it becomes GCE.


Transposing is quite easy if you write the scale that you are in and write the scale directly underneath it of the key you want to transpose the piece into.

If you have a piece in F major and you want to transpose it to A major

F G A Bb C D E E
A B C# D E F# G# A

This table makes it easy to transpose and also to check your work if youre doing an exam.
As I teach multi instruments I often transpose on sight.
If playing my alto saxophone, it transposes down to the next space or line and 3 semitones down for the key signature. Eg. If reading a piece of music in Eb, I transpose it down to C. If Im reading cello music with the bass clef, I transpose the key signature, but read the notes as they look in the treble clef, so its very easy.
The Alto saxophone is in the key of Eb and the tenor saxophone is in the key of Bb. All the saxophones alternate as they go down, starting from the soprano in Bb,Eb, Bb, Eb, Bb.
The same is with clarinets, the smallest is in Eb, the commonly used one is Bb, then the alto in Eb, the bass in Bb.
To transpose on the Bb clarinet, you must go up a tone (two steps) and also change the key signature up one tone.
Transposing is just practice, I find it fun.
Violins, violas, cellos, flutes, oboes, the piano, organ, keyboards are all in the key of C.
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