Piano basics: learning the keys of a piano

One of the hardest parts of playing the piano is learning how to read the notes on the sheet and relate it to what the keys are. However, with a few simple rules and a little bit of practice, it becomes easier.

Piano basics: learning the keys of a piano

Playing the keys on the piano can be a little bit trickier than reading notes on anything else. Unlike any other instrument, piano has two different registers to be playing in, high and low. Besides this, there are 88 keys to be played on the piano. No other instrument comes close to having that much of a range. When beginning to look at the piano, finding the notes and relating them to a piece of paper may seem overwhelming, but with a few simple rules it can become something simple to figure out.

The Staff

The first part to being able to pull apart what is on the page is knowing what the different symbols are. You start out with the grand staff. This consists of 10 lines, being separated in the middle. The bottom five lines is the lower register of the piano, meaning from the middle to the lower sounding notes. The five top lines are the higher register of the piano, meaning the middle to higher sounding notes. The lower register is known as the bass clef, with a symbol of something that looks like a question mark and two dots by the side. The higher register is known as a treble clef, with a symbol of a straight line that has a small oval at the top and a circle at the bottom.

Finding The Notes

There are only seven notes on a keyboard, all are the white keys. (Black keys simply raise or lower the main pitch of the white keys). They go in alphabetical order from A to G. On the piano, the first note to find is the middle C. You can find the middle C by finding the two black notes somewhere in the middle, then two white notes below the last black note without a black key in between the two white notes. Another way to find the middle C is if you have writing on your keyboard, such as the name of the piano (Yamaha), then the middle C should be about in the middle of the name. After finding the middle C, the notes go in alphabetical order: C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C, etc. (going up) or C, B, A, G, F, E, D, C, etc. (going down).

Relating the Notes to the Staff

The middle C is the break between the treble and bass clef. When reading the treble clef, there are spaces and lines to find the notes. The lines in the treble clef (from bottom to top), spell out E, G, B, D, F, which can be remembered as Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge. The spaces (in between the lines) are F, A, C, E, which of course, spells face. When finding these notes on the piano, find your middle C. The E on the first line will be after the middle C. Spell up from C, D, E and you have found your note! If there are notes written above or below the staff, you use the same method. Just keep going up the alphabet. For instance, there is a note written with a line across it above the F in the treble clef. You would count one space, which would be a G, then one line (because the note has a line across it), which would make the note an A. To find that on the piano, you start at your bottom C, and count up from your middle E, past the next F to the A, which should sound somewhat high in range.

The bass clef has a different way of counting. Everything, of course, is below the Middle C. Going from bottom to top, the lines spell G, B, D, F, A or Grizzly Bears Don’t Fly Airplanes. The spaces spell A, C, E, G or All Cows Eat Grass. The A at the very top line is going to be the A closest to the middle C. If you are at middle C, you go down to the A by spelling C, B, A. That determines your highest note on the line on the piano. Everything will then go down on the staff and piano from that point. Like the treble clef, the bass clef can also have notes that are not on the staff but may have lines through them, or not. As in the treble clef, just continue down the alphabet until you find the note.

With a little bit of practice, being able to read notes and find them on the piano will become second nature. The most important thing to do when learning to read notes and use them on the piano is to practice a little bit every day. Little by little, reading notes will become easier for you.

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