The word "keyboard" typically refers to an electronic keyboard, but these guidelines can also be used for a piano. Reading notes on a keyboard requires a knowledge of both the bass and treble clefs. The bass clef notes are played with the left hand and the treble notes with the right. Learning where the notes are on the keyboard is not a difficult process once you know where to find middle C and how keys are laid out on the keyboard.
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Things you need
- Keyboard or piano
- Piano note chart
Find middle C on your keyboard. It will be located in the middle of your keyboard and falls where you find two white keys without a black key between them: the key with a black key to its right but none to its left is middle C. On a full size piano, middle C is typically located right about where the brand name of the piano is located.
Learn the basics of a keyboard. A full-size piano has 88 keys, which is a little over seven full octaves. The starting note on a piano is A and the ending note is C. The keys are laid out in a series of white and black keys. The white keys are natural notes (C-D-E-F-G-A-B) and the black keys are sharp or flat notes (C#, D#, etc).
Familiarise yourself with the music staff. Keyboards use bass and treble clef. Lines for the treble clef are E-G-B-D-F. The spaces are F-A-C-E. Bass clef lines are G-B-D-F-A and the spaces are A-C-E-G. Locate middle C on the music staff by looking at the first ledger line below the treble clef.
Follow the notes up from middle C to learn the treble clef. The space above middle C is D. After D, you come to the treble clef's five lines (E-G-B-D-A) and four spaces (F-A-C-E). The note below middle C is B, which is located in the space above the five lines and four spaces of the bass clef. You can locate any note by knowing the lines and spaces of both clefs and the location of middle C.
Tips and warnings
- As there are 88 keys on a full-sized keyboard, it might be helpful to purchase a keyboard note chart to keep handy until you have memorised where the notes on your keyboard are located on the music staff. You can also find one of these charts online at no charge (see Resources).
- An easy way to memorise the notes on the music staff is to give names to the lines and spaces: "Every Good Boy Does Fine" is often used for the lines of the treble clef and "Face" for the treble clef spaces; "Grizzly Bears Don't Fly Airplanes" works for the bass clef lines, and "All Cars Eat Gas" for the bass clef spaces.
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