LESSON 21 The Grand Staff

What you'll learn

Notes on lines and spaces
High notes and low notes
Guide notes Middle C, Treble G, and Bass F

Casio Privia

Mr. Hoffman's Top Pick for Digital Piano: Casio Privia PX-150

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75 Responses

  1. You are an awesome teacher…I have to say! I almost gave up on wanting to play the piano until I watched your videos…I finished the whole first unit today and the way you teach is so good that I am so motivated to learn! God bless you and thank you for doing what you are doing :)

    • Thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful message! I am so glad to hear that you are enjoying my lessons and are having fun learning! Keep up the great work and happy playing! :)

  2. Hi Mr. Hoffman. I’ve been using your lessons to help me learn piano. I began my music career by playing saxophone from elementary through high school. As a result, treble clef is firmly planted in my mind, but I am very weak on bass clef. For example, when I see bass F on the bass clef, my mind quickly and automatically thinks of that note as a D, because of my experience with treble clef. Do you have any suggestions for drills or practice techniques I can use to help me learn bass clef better?

    • Learning to read notes on the staff is like learning a brand new language! It takes time and patience for anyone. I suggest taking a step back to work on “re-calibrating” your brain to think about the treble and bass staves in a more unified way. Instead of thinking of them as two separate concepts to master, think of them both as part of one unified system, with Middle C being the “border” or “bridge” between the 2 staves. Please re-watch lesson 21 completely to allow the basic concepts of the grand staff to really sink in. Then, watch lesson 82 on Guide Notes. Each staff has certain “landmark” or “guide notes” that I encourage you to master thoroughly. Those guide notes working from lowest to highest are: ground G, bass C, bass F, middle C, treble G, treble C, then flag F. Whenever you see a note on the staff, rather than trying to figure it out by thinking “hmm, that’s the 3rd line, bass clef…must be D!” Instead think of every note in relation to one of the Guide Notes like this: “Hmm, that note is a step above Bass C, and a step above C is D!”. The strength of the Guide Note system is that it relates each note to a specific note or key on the piano. It’s important to know not just that a note is “D” (there are many Ds on the piano), but to know WHICH D… in the case of this example, bass D. I should note (excuse the pun!) that this approach requires a great working knowledge of the musical alphabet, thinking both forward and backward, and even in skips.

      For drills, you may want to try flashcards or a sight-reading app like the Piano Maestro iPad App. I hope this helps! Please keep me posted about your success with these suggestions.

  3. Thanks, anyway.In the past, I have already played the guitar-both modern and classical music-so I get through your instructions smoothly.I hope I will progress in my study of piano lessons with you.

  4. I really enjoy refreshing the basics of piano and music notes with you. You are a great teacher with a great sense of humor. I did play keyboard at younger age. I enjoy the grand piano sound better and taught myself again with an upright Baldwin piano. It was a little out of tune. I been out of practice for awhile since I lost my home and my piano too. :(. I am hoping to get a Yamaha portable keyboard with real piano sound and begin anew again. Thank you so ever so for making me laugh while remembering how much I enjoyed playing piano. God Bless you.

    • Thanks so much for sharing that! I hope you have a wonderful experience refreshing your piano skills, and I’m happy to be your piano teacher! – Mr. Hoffman

  5. Mr. Hoffman, do you teach any other instruments besides piano? Im just wondering because i really want to learn violin but we havent found any teachers close to where we live.:( But i really like your lessons! I enjoy playing piano!

    • I’m so glad you enjoy my lessons! I’m sorry, but I don’t teach violin. We do hope to someday post lessons for other instruments, but the focus for now is just piano. As you search for a violin teacher, you may want to consider some of the principles in this article we posted about How to Find a Piano Teacher. Although referring to different instruments, the basic concepts apply in both situations. I hope that helps! – Mr. Hoffman

  6. Mr. Hoffman, thank you for everything and I am going to tell you more about me, I am nine years old, and I am mormon, and you are great and I would love to meet you someday!!!


  7. Mr. Hoffman,
    First, thank you so much for what you do. I’m teaching my 11-yr old and 8-yr old to play and they are loving it. Secondly, I always try and sign in with my login but it doesn’t seem to recognize my info. I end up watching as guest but wanted you to know in case there is something wrong with that part of your site.

    • I’m so glad your family is enjoying my lessons! Thanks so much for letting us know that you’re having trouble with our site – Would you be so kind as to email our technical support team at Support@HoffmanAcademy.com and let them know what operating system and browser you are using? We would love to get that working for you. – Mr. Hoffman

  8. I am super happy, Mr. Hoffman! These lessons are super duper great! The special logo is cool. I was reading some comments and noticed one of the students saying the logo was the treble clef, and I agree! It certainly looks like a treble clef!

  9. Hello,
    today I started to watch your lectures. Your way of teaching is a very interesting and exciting . First of all, sorry for my mistakes in English . Since I have a foreign language and I do not speak it well enough.
    I have some questions that interest me. Why do you start training in 1.lesson with musical names Do, Re, Mi ( as it is in my experience )- then however you go to the alphabet , which generally represents musical piecework harmony – for example ” J.S.Bach Toccata in f moll “, or letters used to denote harmony , playing guitar. I am interested in the question of how children in this case are taught properly intone correctly intervals and at all – sing? Can intone Do – Mi (thirds), as the same music note title is already helping to do it … but how can properly intone C – E, or F – B?
    When taught to sing it is used in classical music notation symbols?
    Previously thank you if you answer me.

    • In some countries, a fixed Do system is used, where Do always means C. However, I find it most helpful as a teacher to teach using both a fixed system (ABCDEFG) and a movable system (Do, Re, Mi, etc). Some kind of fixed system is essential to provide structure and certainty. D is always a D on the piano or on any instrument. However, a movable system is best for helping students easily hear and recognize the function of each note in a scale and relationships between each note in a melody or intervals, no matter what key the music is in. So, I try to give my students the best of both worlds by actively using letter names as a fixed system and solfège as a movable system.

      I hope that helps, and that I’ve understood you correctly. Feel free to follow up here or by emailing Support@hoffmanacademy.com if you have further questions. – Mr. Hoffman

  10. Mr Hoffman, why don’t you do something like uh, lol I have to go! bye!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. Thanks for the lessons sir. Absolutely amazing stuff!!! now understand to read music in the grand stuff…… wow! I lack words. Thank you thank you thank you….!!

    • If you are a beginner, doing 2-3 lessons each day is probably going too fast. I suggest that kids start with 2-3 lessons per week, spending the other practice days on finger power exercises, reviewing old songs, working on activity pages, etc. If you move through the lessons too quickly, you can’t really master the new material; then, if you haven’t mastered the basics, you will probably find it frustrating when the lessons become more challenging. However, if you have a background in music or have taken piano lessons before, you can certainly pick up the pace. Here’s an article we posted that gives more information: When to Move on to the Next Lesson. Good luck! – Mr. Hoffman

      • its just i did the the whole unit one, then i stopped for like 6 months so we had to over unit
        one so we did about 2 to 3 lessons per day

        • That’s great. When you’re reviewing lessons you’ve already done, it’s ok to go faster. Keep up the good work! – Mr. Hoffman

      • The 2 dots are to help you identify the ‘F’ line in the bass staff, and are part of the “evolution” from an old-fashioned way of drawing the letter ‘F’ into the bass clef we have today. To see this evolution demonstrated by the Hoffman Academy finger puppets, watch the end of lesson 21, after the credits (start at 10:56). – Mr. Hoffman

    • Thanks for noticing, Moriah! Our logo was designed by my brilliant sister-in-law Brittany Hoffman, who is a freelance graphic and web designer. She thought that the treble clef was such a cool and interesting shape that it would make for a great logo.

    • People people people, calm down! I’m sure that Mr. Hoffman is aware of the fact that the puppets don’t appear in all the videos, wait patiently – I am convinced that he is taking care of this..

    • If you want to buy the puppets they are from IKEA so you could get them.

      p.s. I know some locations : San Fransisco , San Diego and Costa Mesa, all in California

    • Good for you, Lia! Practicing every day can be tough, but it makes a big difference in improving your piano skills. Congratulations and keep up the good work! – Mr. Hoffman

  12. Mr. Hoffman Thanks a lot! Im learning so much and doing so much better everyday. Also you are helping with my therapy which is amazing :)!! thanks for making me happy again :,)

  13. Great lessons! I am trying my best at this so that I can help my family by playing some cheerful music! And for the hallidays! Thank you so much that this is free!

  14. You have an excellent program that teaches the piano slowly and with easy to understand methods. I truly think you are a good teacher and a even greater person for doing this to help people.

  15. This is a great start for me and my little brother elijah, also with my older sister Shane. We just started the lesson and it’s really helpful and easy to follow. Thank you very much.

  16. I never comment on any websites but I feel compelled to write and thank you for an amazing series. I have always wanted to learn to play the piano but whenever I have looked online I have been overwhelmed by all the music jargon. Your lessons are broken down to introduce key concepts in an easy to understand way that is fun at the same time. You really are a fantastic teacher. Thank you for letting this be free!

  17. These are excellent lessons that are really helping me learn to play piano, but once I finish the basic lessons, I was wondering; do you provided advanced ones as well? I really do want to commit to this instrument as I’ve always had a passion for music, and piano is the perfect way to translate what I am feeling to music. It would be really great if you do because I want to learn the most I can. Once again, thank you for the top notch lessons!

  18. Mr. Hoffman, I’m a 66 year old man and I’m very excited with this marvelous Piano for Kids of yours. And I have a dream. I want to teach poor children piano for free in the future, so I’m studying very hard get my dream come true. I study by myself and I’ve been learning a lot with Piano Kids for free of yours. God bless you!

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