For some reason, piano pupils tend to pick up reading the treble clef more quickly and easily than the bass clef. Actually, I suspect there are two reasons. Firstly, as children, when schools introduce us to the world of music notation, they go with instruments that use the treble clef – the recorder, for example, or violin – and so we feel some familiarity with the treble clef as a result. The other is that the majority of us are right-handed, and the treble clef tends to be restricted to right-hand use, the left-hand taking on the bass clef.
Whatever the reasons, the left hand and the bass clef need a little extra focus to keep them up to speed with the right.
There are at least three tools that provide this focus. Firstly, we have flashcards. These show a note in the bass clef and you have to find/name it as quickly as possible and then check if you got it right. While you can buy physical flashcards, there are several mobile apps available that provide this service for free. Here’s a link to Music Flashcards to get you started.
The second tool is sight-reading. By sight-read, I mean being presented with a short piece of music you haven’t seen before, which you then play. The Improve Your Sight-Reading series by Paul Harris is one of the best books, though it covers treble and well as bass clef sight-reading. The best place to start would be the Grade 1 book. I would suggest looking through the passage of music to sight-read, then play it through three times, improving it each time as necessary.
The third tool is learning a piece of bass clef music. The piece of music in question shouldn’t be so easy that you can sight-read it. Rather it should present enough of a challenge that you can spend a few weeks turning it into a proper musical performance. To this end I have put together a sheet of tunes in the bass clef, which should be suitable for most piano pupils who have been playing for a few months.
You can download the PDF here: Bass_Clef_Tunes_for_the_Piano.pdf