How to learn the Notes on piano: Here’s a guide to help you learn to recognize & play the various piano notes. In this lesson, we will start with the basics of piano notation, and that would mean learning the names of the various black and white notes on a piano. If you are new to piano or keyboard playing, here is your first lesson in Piano keyboard learning, the layout of a piano, the basics of Piano Keyboard Layout / Lessons.
So you are new to the Piano / Keyboard? Want to know how the notes are named on a Electric Piano / Keyboard? On this page, I will give you a brief overview of what the various notes are on a Piano. What’s the Piano keyboard layout.
If you are a beginner and want to learn How to Play Piano, the very first thing that you need to learn is to know the Basic Piano Notes. Here is a Keyboard tutorial that shows you how to remember the notes on a Piano or Keyboard.
Most beginners would love to bypass this step, but alas that cannot be done. You need to learn to read the notes so that you can play a variety of sounds.
And it might look difficult at first, but the fact is that learning to read the piano notes doesn’t have to be difficult at all.
Table of Contents
Notes on Piano and Electronic Keyboards are the Same
One thing that you need to bear in mind is that the piano notes and the electronic keyboard notes are arranged in the same way. Though the touch and feel of the keys are different on the two instruments, the notes will be called by the same name on both the instruments.
That’s why its not a big deal if you’re unable to afford a piano in the beginning. You can always learn on an electronic keyboard to begin with, and those skills can then later be used on the piano.
Piano notes vs. Keyboard notes – Please keep in mind that the notes on Piano and electronic Keyboards are arranged in the same way. Though they may be made from different materials and the touch may feel different, the notes are identified by the same name on both a Piano and a Keyboard.
Here, you’ll find videos that will show how to recognize the basic notes on a piano or Keyboard. It’s a simple video yet so helpful. It will help you to locate the notes; learn how the notes are named on a piano and where to find them on the keyboard.
Various Notes on the Piano Keyboard
If you closely observe the layout of the keys, you will notice that there are actually twelve different keys or piano notes – 7 white and 5 black keys. The same set of keys is then repeated throughout the instrument, from the left to the extreme right. Even within this group of 12 notes, the 7 white notes are the ones that are named, whereas the black notes are derived from the names of the white keys.
12 Different Notes – If you carefully observe the layout of the piano keys, you will notice that there are basically 12 different keys or notes – 7 white and 5 black keys. The same group of keys then keeps on repeating itself.
So to summarize, the notes on a Piano/Keyboard notes are named as follows.
The 7 white keys are identified as C, D, E, F, G, A, B
The 5 black keys derive their names from the white keys, depending on whether the black key is to the left or right of the white key.
You need to be aware of this repeating pattern if you want to learn the piano notes quickly. This is because at first look it seems the piano has numerous notes that need to be learnt but the fact is it is just a handful of notes that gets repeated.
Examples – Piano Keyboard Layout/Learning
A black key to the right of C would be called as C# or C Sharp. “Sharp” means it is to the right of the white key.
A black key to the left of E would be called as Eb or E Flat. “Flat” means it is to the left of the white key.
Using Mnemonics to Easily Remember the Piano Notes
Using Mnemonics is an effective way to remember, and learn to play the notes of the piano.
You need to learn the notes on not just the Treble Clef, but also on the Bass Clef.
Each clef has five lines and four spaces, and between those two clefs you have the Middle C.
Here’s an easy way to remember the notes on the five lines and four spaces of both the Clefs (beginning bottom to top).
Use Mnemonics as follows:
And always try look at the staff notes from bottom to top!
What are Accidentals?
What about the black keys? How do you identify them? The black keys are identified by placing symbols called “accidentals” next to the name of the note. For instance, the black key to the right of G would be called as G# or G Sharp. “Sharp” indicates it is to the right of the white key. A black key to the left of B would be called as Bb or B Flat. “Flat” indicates it is to the left of the white key. The symbols “#” and “b” are known as accidentals, I have discussed it in detail on a separate page.
There are a lot of students, taking piano lessons, who get frustrated with their progress. One reason for that could be because the style of teaching doesn’t suit them. It’s important that the piano lessons be as uncomplicated as possible. The piano lessons software or book should give you a feeling that things are easier to learn and you should feel that you are making some real progress.
What are Octaves?
The distance from one note to the same note, above or below it, is known as an Octave; this is true for any of the 12 notes. For instance the distance from the note “C” to the next “C” is one Octave.
You need to be aware that the various notes are basically sound waves having different frequencies and certain notes sound similar when their frequencies are in multiples of each other. Notes on a piano that are octaves apart have this property, and that is the reason the set of notes which we discussed above, keeps on repeating itself.
One C-to-C octave includes one set of 7 white notes and 5 black keys, so you may also call this set of notes as one octave. This will help you to know what size a keyboard is, since they come in various sizes. An octave has twelve notes, so a 61 keys keyboard will have 5 octaves (actually it has one more key but you can ignore that) and that is why it is also referred to as a 5-Octave keyboard. A Piano on the other hand has 7 and half octaves.
Notation in other Geographical Regions
Traditionally the seven music notes have always been named using alphabets but some regions do have their own ways of naming these seven notes. A few examples have been listed here.
European Style – Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Si
Indian Style – Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Da Ni
As you can see there are still seven basic notes, irrespective of whatever style it is. The European style, also known as Solfege is used mostly for sight-singing.
The Indian style of denoting the notes on piano is used for both singing as well as for playing musical instruments.
Piano Chart: Layout For Quick Reference
Here is a handy chart which will help you get a bigger picture of how the notes are arranged on a piano. The image below will show you how the keys on a Piano keep on repeating as a pattern across the keyboard (this is an important concept to remember if you want to learn to play quickly).
Meanwhile, you can even get hold of a handy reference chart for beginning students that shows the note names and the note positions on the treble and bass clefs clearly, and easily fits behind the 88 keys of any piano.
This keyboard chart will also show you how the keys on the keyboard correspond to the notes on a music sheet.
This piano chart shows notes on either side of the Middle C
Shows both Bass and the Treble Clefs
Mind you, this will only help you learn the piano notes, it doesn’t talk about piano fingering so don’t expect a magical wand sort of thing that can be applied to every song that you play. Many piano books and scale books will have fingerings to help you use the correct fingers, but then it all depends on the sequence of notes to be played.
Besides, the piano keyboard chart above shows only the names of the notes, which correspond to the white keys. Black keys are depicted by accidentals in written music, which will be covered in the advanced topics.
Another thing worth mentioning is that these notes are mentioned in the standard notation format. Certain European and Asian countries have a different way of naming the notes on a keyboard, though the basic concept still remain the same.
Practice makes Perfect
Learning to play the notes of written music can be daunting initially, especially to a beginner. It is also because of the fact that students do not try to visualize the relationship between the written notes and the keys on the piano / keyboard.
If you ever tried taking piano lessons and got frustrated with your progress, may be the style of piano teaching didn’t suit you. The piano lessons and the style of teaching should be as uncomplicated as possible. The piano lessons should give you a feeling that things are easier to learn and you should feel that you are making some real progress.
The piano keyboard chart displayed here will help you to make that visualization between the notes and the keys. Hopefully you should find it easy to play the written piano notes with the help of this chart. You can even choose to get yourself a handy reference chart that will easily fit behind the 88 keys of your piano.
If you are looking for some good books to get started, here are some first-rate choices.
Also read: Top piano learning software reviewed here.
Learn to Play Keyboard
Want to get started quickly on the keyboards or the piano, here’s an excellent course to play keyboard. It’s my number one recommendation on this web site.
So what is an octave? In musical terms, it purely means the distance from one note to the same note which comes immediately higher or lower. Basically from a C to the next C that comes lower or higher. It doesn’t have to be C, it can be any note.
To put it in a slightly technical or scientific term, an octave is defined as the interval between one musical pitch and another with half or double its frequency. And between these two notes, you have the 12 semitones that make up an octave.
Coming to the number of keys, all the Pianos have 88 keys. Keyboards on the other hand can contain lesser number of keys; you get either 61 keys or 76 keys. One group of 7 white notes and 5 black keys is known as one octave and the same set of notes gets repeated in the other octaves. So a 61 keys keyboard can also be referred to as a 5-Octave keyboard (the one extra key is ignored). A Piano on the other hand would have 7 and half octaves.
Song Notes on LCD Display
Most of the digital piano keyboard nowadays displays the piano keyboard notes of the built-in songs on the LCD display. So if you know the piano keyboard layout, you can understand what notes are to be played. With a few lessons under your belt, you should be able to play the built-in songs by yourself.
I have tried to give you a brief overview of the layout/notes on a piano keyboard. Remember that there are seven basic notes, and the five black notes are their accidentals (derived from the names of the white keys). These 12 notes get repeated across the various octaves. Remember that the most widely used piano keyboards come in 61 keys (5 octaves – Casio CTK, Yamaha PSR models), 76 (6 and half octaves – Casio WK series) and 88 keys (7 and half octaves – DGX>, YPG, Privia series).
Basic understanding of fingering as well as the ability to recognise these notes in printed music forms the first steps in learning to play the piano. I hope this understanding of piano keyboard layout/notes encourages you to take the next step towards learning the Piano.
Learning to recognize and play the piano notes forms the basis of understanding music. It not only allows you to play the piano, you can also use that knowledge to play other instruments as well. Besides, it’s a language in which musicians can communicate with each other. And that is one of the primary reasons that you need to acquire this skill, to be able to read the notes on sheet music.
Learning to recognize the seven white notes and the five black notes on a piano keyboard is not that difficult. Once you know what they are called, you won’t forget their names. The next step for you is to use the correct fingering. You need to learn how to play the various keyboard/piano notes with the correct fingers, a fundamental step in piano technique. And just knowing the notes is half the job. You should also be able to recognize the piano keyboard notes in the written form. And if you are going to use a piano learning software, ensure you go with the one that is more interactive. A good piano learning software structures the lessons in such a way, that you see some real progress and also sound well while playing them. Correct fingering, along with the ability to read the piano notes from sheet music forms the basics of piano learning.
Here are some good piano books that can also help you to get started. Teaching Little Fingers to Play for the earliest beginner and kids. Piano For Dummies for adult beginners and how to play piano despite years of lessons for the intermediate level piano keyboard player.