Alto Clef – Reading Music Lesson #17

This reading music lesson is a supplement to the Alfred’s Essentials of Music Theory self-study workbook. While no book is perfect for learning how to read music, this is one of the best available. The concise explanations, brief practice exercises, ear-training CD’s, glossary of music terms, and answer key make it an excellent value. Buy this top-rated self-study course for beginners to advanced musicians and follow along with me.
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When we place the C Clef on the 3rd line of the music staff, we have the alto clef.

Alto Clef

This means that when we put the center of the C Clef (where the 2 C’s meet) on the third line, that is indicating the note middle C.

Alto Clef Notes

Here’s what the notes look on like on the alto clef staff:

alto clef notes

As you can see, when we move up the staff, we go forwards in the music alphabet.


alto clef notes

Moving down the music staff means we need to go backwards through the music alphabet.


Start Anywhere

You can start anywhere on the staff using the third line “C” as your starting point and go up the staff moving forward in the music alphabet or down going backwards through the alphabet.

Just remember that notes appearing higher on the staff also sound higher.  Notes that are placed lower also sound lower.

It’s now time to put some of this learning together and discuss the the grand staff.

Alto Clef Flashcards for Extra Practice

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