Learning the notes on a keyboard is an essential step in learning to play the piano, organ, or a MIDI controller. Although the shape and order of notes on a keyboard are always the same, it may take some time to memorize and master them. After you've learned where to find the notes on the keys, you can begin to learn to read sheet music and practice scales fluently.
Method 1 of 3: Identify the Notes on the Keyboard
Step 1. Learn the order of the white keys by first locating the C note
The first note in a scale is the C note. The order of the scale is do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, and si, and the same pattern is repeated after the note si. You can find the do key on a keyboard by locating any pair of black keys that are surrounded on both sides by two white keys instead of one. The C note will always be the key immediately to the left of the black key on the left side of the key pair.
- Observe the pattern of the white keys: three white keys that enclose two black keys, and four white keys that enclose three black keys. The C note will be the white key to the left of the two black keys.
- This pattern is consistent across all keyboards. Each note on the keyboard is represented in this single 12-note octave, which is the term used to describe a range of notes that appear in the same order. The different octaves will be either higher or lower in key, depending on where they are located based on the octave in the middle.
Step 2. Familiarize yourself with the black keys by locating the note do♯ / re ♭
Each black key can represent two possible notes depending on the musical context in which you are playing. For example, C sharp (C♯) and D flat (D ♭) are located on the same piano key, but the note will change depending on whether you move up or down on the keyboard, or whether or not you press the pedal. This happens because the sound produced by the quarter notes is imperfect, and does not correspond exactly to the natural scale. In general, the black keys play a supporting role in most compositions, so it will be helpful to remember their order starting just above the white note C in the middle, which is do♯ or re ♭.
- The symbol ♯ is read as "sharp," and the symbol ♭ is read as "flat."
- The white keys are known as "natural" notes, and they are the main keys used in most songs. The black keys are known as "accidents", and consist of sharp and flat sounds in the notes located between the natural keys.
Black key notations
The 1was Black group key is do♯ or re ♭.
The 2gives Black group key is re♯ or e ♭.
The 3was Black group key is fa♯ or sun ♭.
The 4ta Black group key is sol♯ or ♭.
The 5ta Black group key is or yes ♭.
Step 3. Familiarize yourself with the octaves of the keyboard
In the direction from left to right, each group of notes between C and C is called an octave. A standard 88-key piano will have 12.5 octaves. A note will determine the key of a key, while the octave will determine its frequency. Notes on the left have a lower frequency, while notes on the right will have a higher frequency. You almost always start playing a song from the middle C note, which is a term you use to describe the octave located right in the center of the piano.
A grand or upright piano has 88 keys, but there are electronic and modified keyboards that have 44 or 49 keys. The more keys a keyboard has, the more octaves that can be played on it
Method 2 of 3: Interpret the Music Notation
Step 1. Learn to interpret musical notation by first understanding how the staff works
The staff refers to the 5 horizontal lines where the musical notes are written. It is used to visually represent the letters of the scale, where the 4 spaces in between represent the letters in between. The order of the notes will change depending on whether the staff is in the treble clef or the bass clef.
- In the treble clef, the note located exactly on the bottom line is E, and the note located between the first and second lines is F. The note located just above the second line is a, and the note located between the second and third lines is yes. The pattern repeats itself from there.
- In the bass clef, the note on the bottom line is G, and the note between the first and second lines is a. The note placed just above the second line is yes, and the note C will be located between the second and third lines. The pattern will continue as you move up the scale.
Step 2. Start by learning the treble clef before learning the bass clef
The treble clef is the symbol that looks like a curled number "6", which has a line running through the center of it. This indicates what the notes of the next staff will be. On a keyboard, the treble clef is used to indicate what the right hand has to play, while the bass clef is used to represent the notes of the left hand.
- Start by learning the treble clef first, as the use of the right hand is usually required to play most of the notes in beginner or intermediate level sheet music.
- The G scale begins with the E note at the bottom of the staff, while the F scale begins with the G note at the bottom of the staff.
Some instruments run in other keys. Violas and trombones use the key of C in third. The key of C in fourth is used with the bassoon and cello.
Step 3. Learn to distinguish the round, white, and black ones
A round is a hollow circle that does not have a protruding bar and indicates that the key should be played for the entire duration of the note. A white also has a hole in the center, but has a vertical bar to indicate that the key should be played for half the duration of a round. A quarter note is the most common note and has a solid black circle with a vertical bar. Equivalent to a quarter length of a round when played on the piano.
A straight line at the top of a staff line indicates a rest, on which no notes are played for the duration of the measure
Step 4. Read chords observing those notes that are stacked on top of each other
In a score, a chord is represented by several notes occupying the same vertical space at the same time. These notes should be played together at the same time, almost always with the same length. Duration is governed by a song's time signature, which tells you how many beats will exist within a given measure. Major and minor chords can radically change the mood of a piece of music, and if you want to start composing it will be essential that you learn them.
- The two numbers just to the right of the clef are known as the time signature. They will tell you how fast you are supposed to play the notes based on the tempo of the song.
- Major chords are chords that start at C, while minor chords start at E.
Method 3 of 3: Memorize the Keys
Step 1. Place a piece of tape on each key in the middle octave and label the keys
Take a piece of duct tape or electrical tape and place it in the place of the C note in the middle octave. Write "C" over this key using a permanent marker, and repeat this process for each note of the center chord. Label each note according to the letter used to represent it. Use this chord as a reference as you learn and memorize each of the notes on the scale.
Use tape that has a texture you can instantly recognize so you don't need to look at the keys to find the scale.
Step 2. Use mnemonics to remember the order of the notes
In the treble clef, the notes that are located exactly on the staff lines will be mi, sol, si, re, fa. They can be easily remembered by memorizing the phrase "My sun always shines fabulously." The notes between the lines will be fa, la, do, mi, so you can memorize the phrase "Missing the docile Micaela" to remember the order.
In the bass clef, the order of the keys can be easily remembered with the expression "Solange always shines fantastic" for the notes on the lines, and with the phrase "The docile Micaela solfea" for the intermediate notes
Step 3. Train your ears to identify notes by matching sounds to some key
Over time you will be able to train your ears to register the resonance and tonality of each note. To do this, select a key in the middle octave and hold it down. While the sound is playing, begin humming the melody of the note. Try to match the note exactly. Repeat this process over the course of several practice sessions, and you will end up identifying the notes by their sound yourself, which will help you improve your ability to hear mistakes when you make them during practice.
This is a good way to internalize the sound of the notes and will come in handy when you eventually want to imagine what the musical score would sound like in your mind
Step 4. Transform notes into muscle memory through practice
The more you practice moving your fingers between notes and reading sheet music, the easier it will become. Practice the scales regularly, ideally every day, playing the notes in order, one after the other, with both hands. This will help you memorize the sounds and get used to the feel of each key under your fingers.
A useful practice exercise: Sit up straight and place your right thumb in middle C. Play the following 6 notes: re, mi, fa, sol, la and si, in order to use each finger of your hand. Practice doing it as quickly as possible, then try doing the same with your left hand. This will help your fingers get used to the movements necessary to produce the sound of each note.