How to Read French Horn Music

By Charlotte Johnson

The French horn is an instrument that belongs to the brass family. The horn consists of coiled brass tubing and is played with one hand in the bell of the instrument. Learning to read music for the French horn is a matter of learning standard musical notation. While most music for the French horn is written in the treble clef, you may occasionally see some melody lines written in the bass clef as well.

Treble Clef

Notice the lines of the staff. These notes are E, G, B, D and F going from the bottom line to the top line.

Notice the spaces on the staff. The notes in the spaces are F, A, C and E moving from the bottom space to the top space.

Look for notes slightly below or above the staff lines; notes progress below and above the staff lines in musical alphabetical order (A, B, C, D, E, F and G). Since E is the note located on the bottom line of the staff, a note directly under this line is a D, and the note below that (which has its own small ledger line) is middle C. Likewise, the note positioned directly above the top staff line is G, and the note above that with its own small ledger line is A.

Use mnemonic devices to help you memorize the notes. A commonly used phrase for the treble clef's lines is "Every Good Boy Does Fine," and a word for the spaces is "FACE." You can also make up your own phrases to remember these.

Bass Clef

Notice the lines of the staff. These notes are G, B, D, F and A, going from the bottom line to the top line.

Notice the spaces on the staff. The notes in the spaces are A, C, E and G, moving from the bottom space to the top space.

Look for notes slightly below or above the staff lines. The first two notes above the staff lines are B and middle C, and the first two notes below the lines are F and E.

Use mnemonic devices to help you memorize the notes. A commonly used phrase for the bass clef's lines is "Good Boys Do Fine Always," and a phrase for the spaces is "All Cows Eat Grass."

About the Author

Charlotte Johnson is a musician, teacher and writer with a master's degree in education. She has contributed to a variety of websites, specializing in health, education, the arts, home and garden, animals and parenting.