How to Teach Tenor Clef

I remember learning tenor clef. My bassoon teacher told me I needed to learn it, but didn’t tell me how. I went to the music store and asked for tenor clef flash cards. They didn’t exist (this was pre-internet, of course). After a few months of hard slog, I finally had it figured out. I hope I’m doing better with my own students, but I may not be. One of my students made me this shirt:

I compiled the following list of tenor clef teaching ideas from a Facebook thread on the Bassoonists United Facebook group. Thank you to those who contributed!

Ideas for Teaching Tenor Clef:

Beginning/Intermediate Students:

Late Intermediate/Advanced Students:

  • Use any bassoon method (Weissenborn, etc.) and place small sticky notes with tenor clef symbols over bass clef signs on short etudes. Convert the key by adding one sharp to the existing (bass clef) key. Have the student read the etude in tenor clef.
  • If you want the Weissenborn exercises written out in tenor clef, try:
  • Metodo popolare per il fagotto, by Etienne Ozi has duets in tenor clef in a variety of tonalities.
  • Use a book written for trombonists or cellists.

(Most of the links are to sellers in the UK—please comment below if you find them from a US retailer.)

4 thoughts on “How to Teach Tenor Clef

  1. Reply
    Steve - June 1, 2016

    What about mnemonics? Don’t Forget Aunt Clara’s Earrings*; Every Good Boy Does (or Dies – gruesome but memorable.).

    *I prefer a ruder one: Don’t Flipping Ask Chris Evans. But not “Flipping” iuswim**.

    ** If You See What I Mean

    I am a (very) mature student, not a teacher.

    1. Reply
      Cheryl - December 19, 2016

      That is one I will remember. Whatever it takes. Thanks

  2. Reply
    Donna Foley - June 1, 2016

    I use them, but “Dogs Fight All Cats Equally” and “Elvis’ Guitar Broke Down”.

    I teach school age kids and start Tclef why I introduce the high notes. I have also transposed the early Weissenborn etudes and familiar tunes.

  3. Reply
    Kaye - June 1, 2016

    I find this site very informative and well done. The author is to be commended.

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