How to Read Xylophone Music

By Charlotte Johnson
Toy version of a xylophone.

The xylophone is a member of the percussion family. You play a xylophone by striking the wooden bars with one or more mallets. Being able to read music for the xylophone can help you widen your repertoire of songs. Music for the xylophone is written in standard musical notation, with both the bass and treble clefs.

Look at the bass clef on the sheet music. This is the lower set of five staff lines. The lowest note on a xylophone is F, which is on the fourth line of the staff. The fourth line is just above the top line. This F will be on the far left of the instrument and usually is labeled with an "F." To the right of the F is G, written in the top space of the bass clef. Following G is A, written on the top line of the bass clef.

Look at notes that are just above the top line of the bass clef or just under the treble clef (the top set of five staff lines in a piece of music). The notes B, C and D can be written in the bass or treble clefs. In the bass clef, B is resting on top of the top line. C (middle C) is just above B and has its own line through it (called a ledger line). D is just above C and rests on top of the ledger line that C would be written on. In the treble clef, D is just under the bottom staff line. Middle C is just underneath D, with its own ledger line, and B is just under middle C's ledger line.

Read the notes that are to the right of the first D from the treble clef. E is on the first line. F is in the first space. G is on the second line. A is in the second space, B is on the third line, C is in the third space, D is on the fourth line, E is in the fourth space, F is on the top line, and G rests on top of the top line. The rest of the notes that continue to the right follow musical alphabetical order (A, B, C, D, E, F, G). They are written using ledger lines, alternating between being on a ledger line and being between ledger lines. A is on a ledger line, and the notes progress from there (see Resources for note chart).

Sharps and flats are the notes above the standard line of bars. They occur in groups of two or three, just like the black keys on a piano. If you see a "#" symbol next to a note, it means to play it sharp, or just to the upper right of the regular note. If you see a "b" symbol, it means to play the note flat, or just to the upper left of the regular note.

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.