Sight Reading: Ignore Treble Clef?

I’m teaching myself to sight read for bass. I’ve site read music for years as a singer, so I’m faniliar with the notes and such. But as a singer I don’t (necessarily) need to know that this note is an Eb. I primarily need a good reference note and a good ear.

Focusing on the bass clef, I spend some practice time naming the notes without my bass. Then I’m taking some choral music and playing the bass and tenor lines. It’s going quickly. Gotta love Deep Practice. Gotta shore up key signatures as well but that’s another post.

Here’s my question. I took a stab at doing the same with the treble clef. I kept finding switching back and forth between bass and treble notes (and doing a fair share of thinking Every Good Boys Does Fine.)

Would I potentially slow my progress by focusing on both staffs, when ultimately this particular goal is about sight reading for the instrument? Or in the long run does it get me reading both staffs sooner? I don’t want to confuse myself.

In case the question comes up, I’d like to play some melodies from sheet music. (Also want to be able to play by ear. Also another post.) And melodies aren’t often in the bass clef. I’ve been around musicians that were rubbish in whichever staff their instrument didn’t often have music in. But ultimately the bass is more important.


I think if you want to keep singing, it’s very useful to read both clefs. But for bass, treble clef doesn’t seem very important.

1 Like


I would guess “yes” to your question. I already knew the treble clef and now I am training my brain to also be able to decode in bass clef. If I were to learn both at the same time, this might be confusing - for me.

Then again, that is what pianists basically learn from the get-go as they often have the right hand in treble clef and the left hand in bass clef. So, it is certainly possible… but progress might be slower.


I read both and it’s like riding bicycles once you know it doesn’t go away. Unlike many skills reading is not a perishable skills. Once you know it it takes a little time and you’ll be back reading like a pro again.

Yeah. It’s basically reading. Even if you do forget the note spacing it takes seconds to relearn it, as long as you can remember FACE and ACE-G. (the note names for the spaces between the staff lines for treble and bass clefs, respectively.) Then just adjust by one for the lines until you remember. You’ll still spot the basic shapes like triads, and the note and rest durations will be instantly familiar forever.

Sometimes it takes me a bit to remember some of the Italian used as I don’t speak Italian, but no big deal.

1 Like