Just how do you draw a Treble Clef?

I know this seems like a really stupid question, but when Kevin and I were working on the first Printable Music Theory Book, we had this debate!

We never realized that everyone had a slightly different opinion. Kevin and I had been working in the same schools and using the same system of music teaching, yet we were amazed to find out that we had been teaching how to draw a treble clef differently all these years until we looked at writing the book.

I had always thought that because it was also called a G-Clef it needed to start on the G Line , but when we checked out Wilkopedia, I was amazed to find that I had been wrong all these years and it didn’t exactly start in the G line

Of course we checked out Wilkopedia, but even that didn’t clear things up totally for us.
So tell me what you think. Just how do you draw a treble clef?

Printable Music Theory BOoks


  • By Patricia Reply

    As far as I know, that “G” of the g-clef has its roots in the medieval first use of clefs (and the first examples of diastemic notations): a letter on a staff of two or more lines indicated the note associated with the line…, a F, C and later G. Fron that time on, they have suffered so much stylization that I think is hard to find a “perfect” clef (for instance, in the 16th century, the flourished g-clef shape reminds a “S” more than a “G” (maybe from the solmisation of g-solreut?).

    Nowadays we all have learnt to copy the printable g-clef that is found in any modern edition. But the funny thing is that every person makes his/her own interpretation of this shape. I learnt to write it from the “snail” centre, placing the beginning on the g-line and rotating clockwise, but indeed the printable type does not lie there… Later, I have seen people that writes it from the tail below the staff, and even who writes it facing the left!

    G-clef is possibly one of the more creative tasks of the first years of music learning!

  • By Martha Reply

    Start with a line straight down, then back to the top and make the little bump, cross over the line and make the big bump, curl it around.

  • By Debbie Reply

    I learned in my early music classes that the “snail” part centered around the G on the staff–just as the “F clef” has the two dots above and below the fourth line for the bass clef. (The Harvard Dictionary of Music has it like this.)I never considered it looking like the letter G, because it doesn’t. It’s in reference to the note it centers around.
    I make the long central line down first with the tail on the end then go back up to the top with a small curve to the right then a large curve to the left ending with the last of the “snail” on the second line.
    Remember that Wikipedia is written, not by the experts in the field, but by ordinary people like you and me. It’s a creative commons site.

  • By Piano Lessons by QM Reply

    Great post. Will have to share this with my students!

  • By Chris Wolf Reply

    For the very young, I teach it with 3 letters, P, G and J. Capital P first, then a G where the hump of the P met the pole, and the tail of the P needs a little J hook at the bottom. It isn’t stylized as the books but we all know what it is supposed to resemble as we write. hope it helps!

  • By Jennifer Henry Reply

    It’s great to hear all of these ideas about how to teach the drawing of the illusive G clef. Of course, we all want our students to be able to identify one and know what it means; I’ll be that drawing it, using any technique, helps students remember. When I teach treble clef, I use my brand of teaching it (using a straight line down, making a half-cirlce here, a letter c there…., kind of like what Chris suggests), and then have students rotate their paper in any fashion they desire to camouflage the clef by turning it into any type of drawing they wish (Gary the Snail is pretty fun!). It’s serious and important, but it’s gotta live, too! A G-clef by any other design is still a G-clef?

  • By Robbie Reply

    What a great question! Actually, I learned something about this in my first College Theory class. The G-Clef is more or less a fancy-looking G. It started as a G, and the top part (which looks like an S) was probably added to reference Sol (in fixed Do) for countries that use Solfage systems instead of letter systems. In the classical period, the design was probably finalized, although everyone draws them differently. My opinion: as long as the circle of the clef circles what G is supposed to be, it’s okay!

  • By Carol Reply

    I draw if from the bottom up in one continuous motion. I agree with Debbie’s explanation – that the ‘snail’ centers around the sol (G) line, just like the big dot on the “f” bass clef is on the fa line with the two little dots on either side of it!

  • By Sherryl Reply

    I tell my students there are 4 easy steps. !. Draw a line downward with a monkey tail. 2. D at the top. Where the D stopped make a C at the side. 4. Where the C left off, draw a curly-Q up and around to the left.

  • By Linda Reply

    I always make a ‘bullseye’ around the G line, moving clockwise, and then back up in a slight curve, then straight down at a very slight angle, with a hook to the left, last. Works for me.

  • By Emma Reply

    For my little ones I do this: Concemtrate on 5 words: DOT, CURL, SWISH, ZOOM, CURL.

    1. start with a ‘blob’ or ‘dot’ on the g line.
    2. curl to the right all the way round your dot.
    3.’swish’ up to the top,
    4.’zooom’ down the middle and
    5. curl at the bottom.

    They think it’s great fun especially if you make ‘swish’ & ‘zoom’ sounds as you draw it. Kids learn great if you put actions to the sounds so get away from the piano or put your instrument down to teach the order of the words ‘zooming’ round the room!
    It may seem a bit extreme, but the little ones love it.

  • By Mary Reply

    Use a large sized cut out clef.
    Trace with the finger. Start in the middle on the “G” line saying….

    “Start in the middle,
    Wiggly round…
    Up to the top…
    Down to the ground..
    and around…”

    Feel it first!

  • By Dave Morgan Reply

    Get a good book on engraving and look at the Breikroft or LeDuc editions of pieces. Using a caligraphy pen with real ink begin by circling the second line. The pen will naturally draw the ink thicked in the fat part of each curve. Sweep in one continuous motion-around-up-down, the blob at the end of the line is the release.

    Dave in NYC (an old school pen and ink copyist for years)

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