Looking at the piano keys without knowing what they are for can be pretty intimidating for a beginner. Do not worry, though, as every beginner starts here.
This article aims to help anyone struggling with labeling their piano keys. We have created an easy chart for you to use as a reference, so you can familiarize your instrument with ease.
Piano Keyboard Layout
First, you need to take a look at the piano keyboards without the labels. A standard piano has 88 keys, 52 of which are white keys that are also known as natural notes. The remaining 36 are black keys also referred to as flats and sharps.
Here is an example of a standard 88-key keyboard:
Aside from that, there are other variations. The 76-key keyboard has 45 white keys and 31 black keys. Here is an example:
Another variation is the 61-key keyboard. This keyboard has 36 white keys and 25 black keys. Check out below:
Finally, we have the 49-key keyboards. These keyboards have 29 white keys and 20 black keys. Here is an example of a 49-key keyboard:
Meanwhile, take a look at this image below. You might notice that the same pattern of keys repeats throughout the entire keyboard. The pattern is 2 black keys bracketed by 3 white keys and then 3 black keys bracketed by 4 white keys.
Keyboard Keys Names
Knowing that you will have to memorize all 88 keys and the corresponding notes can be overwhelming. However, it is actually a lot easier than it looks! The secret is that the 12-note pattern (including all the notes) is the same throughout the keyboard.
For now, let us focus on naming the 12 keys and their corresponding notes.
The first thing you need to do is to find the Middle C on your piano, which is the 24th key from the left on an 88-key keyboard. You will notice that after 7 white keys, the pattern repeats all over again. Here’s why:
The image above contains the names of the white keys on each pattern. Starting from Middle C, it is followed by D, E, F, G, A, and B.
I am sure by now you have noticed the other C right after B. If we play this key, that means you are playing the octave. Playing an octave will land you back to C. Think of it like Do-Re-Mi! Notice how when you sing the song, you start at Do and end at Do? It is the same on the piano.
Even if you go in the opposite direction, completing an octave will still land you back to C!
Let us go back to the Middle C. This time, however, focus your attention on the black keys instead of the white keys. The black keys are shorter and further back on the keyboard than the white keys. When you play a black key, you are playing both a sharp and a flat of a white key.
Look at the keys again. Notice how the black keys land in the middle of 2 white keys? That is because white keys are whole notes while black keys are half notes, which are also known as semitones (2).
As you can see, sharps and flats share a single key. However, an easier way to tell them apart is this: sharps are always on the right of a white key while flats are on the left.
Now that we know the name of the notes on each key within an octave, let us combine both of them! Take a look at this image below:
Some notes have two names, which are called enharmonic notes. These notes are created because of musical patterns. Here is a visual representation of the musical pattern of a scale:
A major scale (1), for example, contains 2 whole notes, a half note, 3 whole notes, and another half note. If you memorize this formula, it will be much easier to play any major scale. Let us take a look at some examples:
Here we start on B♭. Going down the scale we have three whole notes, F, G, and A. We then have another half note E♭. Finally, we end with 2 whole notes, C and D.
If we start on D, going up we have the second whole note E, a half note F# followed by three whole notes G, A, and B and ending in a half note C#.
Before moving on, I would like to show you how the notes on your piano keys would look like once it is translated into sheet music:
In piano, you will need to learn 2 clefs (5), the bass clef, and the treble clef. The bass clef is usually used for low notes and often played by the left hand. Meanwhile, the treble clef is used for high notes and is often played by the right hand.
Looking at the staff above, you see that there is a possibility that these clefs would intersect. This happens when the notes in the bass clef go up and the notes in the treble clef go down. The point of intersection is called the Middle C.
Full Piano Keys Labeled
Now that we know the pattern on a 12-note scale as well as the formula for a Major scale, let us get into naming every key on the piano. As I have mentioned before, the keys follow the same pattern throughout the entire keyboard!
Here is what it would look like on an 88-key piano keyboard:
As you can see, the pattern C, D, E, F, G, A, and B repeats over and over again throughout the entire keyboard. The same pattern applies to sharps, flats, and enharmonic notes.
So, are you ready to play some music? Learn more about how to play the piano by checking out our list of the top online piano lessons in 2020!
Table of Contents
- 1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chromatic_scale
- 2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semitone
- 3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sharp_(music)
- 4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flat_(music)
- 5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clef
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