Lesson 11: Ledger Lines and Note Stems

Category: Lessons

Ledger lines are used when notes are too high or too low for the staff.  They work like staff extenders.  As you can see they are small lines, and the notes are written either in the space above the lines or on the lines.  Even middle C is on a ledger line – can you find middle in on the image to the left?

Leger lines in the bass clef are much like ledger line in the treble clef.  Middle C exists on a ledger line in the bass clef as well.  Can you find it?

The last thing that we will discuss today is note stems.  You may have noticed already that some stems point up, while others point down.  Believe it or not, there is a method to the madness – so all music is written in standard notation.  When a single line of music is written (that is one note at a time), the notes above the third line will have their stems pointing down, and the notes below the third line will have their stems pointing up.  The notes on the third line will either go up or down depending on the music, but down is preferred.

There is an exception to this rule however.  That is, whenever notes are bound together with a beam (we haven’t seen this yet, but we will), the direction of the stem depends on which note is farthest away from the center line.  The direction of all of the stems will point in the direction of that stem.  In the image to the left, find the note that is farthest away from the center line, and see what direction the stems are pointing. For more practice you can go to the worksheet section of the website to download some practice sheets.

Posted on November 11th, 2008 by sharlene


  1. 12: How Low Can You Go? Pedal Tones « Sound the Trumpet: How to Blow Your Own Horn Says:

    […] leger lines (also ledger): Small lines used below or above the staff for notes beyond the range of the staff. […]

  2. helen scott Says:

    why are ledger lines also called :leger’ are there two names for this. please explain. from Helen scott. in Australia . on Wednesday 27th November. 2013. 10.16 p.m,

  3. Pepa Says:

    Nο espera νеег
    սn ɑгtіϲulο ɑsі еո
    еstа ƿagіnа ,еո camЬiо еѕtߋү ƅаѕtaոtе ɑgгaԁесіdօ
    eո еѕtа οсаѕіοn

  4. Denis Says:

    the note C is a ledger line I want to know what string it is on and what finger position it is

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