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How to Draw Ledger Lines Above and Below the Staff

Ledger lines are short horizontal lines that are written above or below the staff. They indicate the exact pitches of notes that are not in the staff. Ledger lines are the same distance from the staff as the staff lines are from each other. When writing a note on a ledger line, make sure that the note is centered on the line.

The first note above the staff that requires a ledger line:
The first pitch above the staff that requires a ledger line

 

The first note below the staff that requires a ledger line:
The first pitch below the staff that requires a ledger line

 

Notes above the staff can also occur on top of a ledger line:
Note above a ledger line

 

Notes below the staff can occur below a ledger line:
Note below a ledger line

 

There can be many ledger lines above or below the staff:
Several ledger lines above and below the staff

 

 

Notes that sit on top of a ledger line above the staff do not require an extra ledger line. Avoid writing another ledger line, as shown below. The same rule applies to notes below the staff as well.
Avoid writing an extra ledger line above the pitch

Avoid writing an extra ledger line below notes below the staff

 

The notes just above and just below the staff do not require ledger lines:
The note on top of the staff does not require a ledger line

The note just below the staff does not require a ledger line

 

 

 

Make sure that the ledger line extends slightly beyond the notehead, but not so far that it interferes with the surrounding notes.
Ledger lines that are too narrow and too wide

 

The ledger line should be the same distance from the staff as all of the staff lines are from each other. In the example below, the ledger lines on the left are too close to the staff. They should be written like the ledger lines on the right.
Avoid writing ledger lines that are too close together

 

In the example below, the ledger lines on the left are too far from the staff. They should be written like the ledger lines on the right.
Avoid ledger lines that are too far apart

 

Remember to follow the rules for the proper placement and size for drawing noteheads, too.

 

 

Music Notation

How to Write Music

Besides blank staff paper, this site includes instructions on how to draw music notes and symbols. You can learn how to draw notes, ledger lines, clefs, rests, note values, accidentals, time signatures, and other musical symbols.

Getting started with the basics:
Noteheads
Ledger lines
Treble clef
Bass clef
Accidentals

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