The best thing about learning to play the piano is that all the keys are laid out in front of you. There is no need to adopt a certain finger position just so you can play a chord.
However, for you to play the piano, you will need to know what each key is for. This is exactly what we are going to try and find out in this article, so you can elevate your learning.
A Quick Look at A Piano Keys Chart
At some point, you have probably wondered: how many keys are there on a piano?
Basic Piano Keys Chart
Now that you know how many keys there are on a piano as well as the general use of each colored key, it is time to learn the corresponding note for each key. Do not worry as this is going to be very easy. When you begin learning to read music sheets, you will find this information very useful!
First, let us discuss octaves and scales on the piano.
If you look closely at a piano keyboard, you will see that there is a pattern for every 12 keys. This pattern is 2 black keys bracketed by 3 white keys and then 3 black keys bracketed by 4 white keys.
The notes for white piano keys from left to right are C, D, E, F, G, A, and B. Pressing the next key will land you on another C.
Try playing this on your own piano! You will realize that the notes are very familiar.
Remember Julie Andrews’ The Sound of Music? The sound of the notes is similar to Do-Re-Mi-Fa-So-La-Ti, and then back to Do. The notes you play from one C to another is called an octave.
Sharps and Flats
Next, we will go over what sharps and flats are.
The black keys on the piano keyboard are sharps and flats. A sharp is a note that is half a step (also known as a semitone (1) higher than its corresponding white key. On the other hand, a flat (2) is a note that is half a step lower than its corresponding white key. An easier way to memorize this is to remember that sharps are always on the right of a note while flats are always on the left.
Sharps (3) are marked with this symbol ‘#’ on a music sheet while flats are marked with this symbol ‘♭’.
Another thing that you might notice is that flats and sharp share the same key. For example, C# is the same key as D♭.
Let us take a look at this major scale again.
Most of the white keys on the piano keyboard have corresponding black keys. However, C and E, as well as B and C, do not have corresponding black keys. The reason for this is because these white keys are also half notes.
Look at the white keys on the image. It is clear here that sometimes, one note can have two names (Example: C and B#, E and F♭, F and E# and B and C♭). These notes are called enharmonic notes.
Scales and Keys
Scales (4) play an important role no matter what instrument you play. Even as a singer, scales, and octaves are very useful to learn as it is one of the fundamentals of music theory.
Take a look at the image above.
Playing the white keys from one C to another means you have played a C Major scale. The C Major scale is made up of two whole steps, a half step, three whole steps, and another half step. If you keep this formula memorized, it will be much easier to play any Major scale!
Here are a couple of examples:
- This is what it would look like if you started a scale on B♭ going down:
We have two whole notes (C and D) and then a half note (E♭) followed by three whole notes (F, G, and A) and finally ending on another half note (B♭).
- This is what it would look like if you started on D going up:
Once again, it is made up of two whole notes (D and E), a half note (F#), three whole notes (G, A, and B) and ends with another half note (C#).
Piano Keys Chart in Relation to Sheet Music
Lastly, we are going to figure out where the keys we just learned fall when it is translated into sheet music.
To play the piano, you will have to learn 2 clefs (5):
- Bass Clef – If the F Clef falls on the fourth line of the staff, it is considered a bass clef. Today, this is the only bass clef still in use. The F Clef is often synonymous with the bass clef. Notes written on the bass clef are an octave lower than the written pitch.
- Treble Clef – When the G clef falls on the second line of the staff, it is considered a treble clef. Nowadays, the treble clef is the most popularly used today. It is also the first clef that musicians learn and the only G-clef still in use. Notes with high pitch are often placed on the treble clef.
The notes on the treble clef and the bass clef can intersect. This happens when notes on the treble clef go down and notes on the bass clef go up. The point of interaction is often on Middle C, that is why it is always important to be able to recognize where it is placed on your piano keyboard.
Take a look at this image below:
This is where you would find the middle C on the keyboard and on the staff. I have connected the Cs on the keyboard to the ones on the staff to make it easier to see.
There are plenty of ways to remember where the notes fall on the staff. However, as long as you know where the C is, it will be easier to remember the rest!
If you need more in-depth lessons in playing the piano, do not forget to check our curated list in the Sound Fro reviews!
- 1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semitone
- 2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flat_(music)
- 3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sharp_(music)
- 4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chromatic_scale
- 5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clef
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