The Musical Alphabet

Donna McFarland
A free video tutorial from Donna McFarland
College Music Instructor and Author
4.7 instructor rating • 1 course • 3,563 students

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Name that Key!

Name the Keys on the Piano and the Notes on the Staff

33:41 of on-demand video • Updated

  • Students will learn the names of the keys on the piano and how to identify note names in treble and bass clefs.
English The first thing we're going to look at is the layout of the piano keyboard and the musical alphabet. If you look at the keyboard you'll see groups of two black keys and three black keys alternating up and down the keyboard. In the center of the piano or keyboard there is a name, usually the brand of the piano company. If you go to the two black keys nearest to the name and the white key that is just to the left of them, that is middle C. Let's take a look at this on a real keyboard. If you look at the center where the name is and then you go down to the two black keys and the white key just to the left of the two black keys, that is middle C. Every place on the piano where you have two black keys and then a white key to the left of it is a C. As you go up on the piano the pitches get higher. As you go down on the piano the pitches get lower. We refer to going to the right as going up and to the left as going down. So let's go back to our middle C and go down two notes. That is the A, the beginning of the musical alphabet. The names of the keys start with A. A, B, C, D, E, F, G. There is our A again. B, C -- that's the next C. D, E etc.. The black keys are named according to the white keys that surround them. Go back to our C. This is a C sharp. The black key to the right is named after the key. D. We have a D-sharp, F-sharp, G-sharp, A-sharp. The black keys are also named according to the key on the left. D-flat, E-flat, G-flat, A-flat, B-flat. So you'll notice that each black key has two names. C-sharp, D-flat. I'll teach you a fancy name for that. That is enharmonic -- two names for the same note. You might wonder if there's an E-sharp or an F-flat. In fact, there is. Here's the E, the E-flat. We go up, this is an E-sharp. It's enharmonic with F. And we go from F down, that is an F-flat, enharmonic with E. But you don't have to worry about that right now. In the next lesson I'll show you a really easy way to remember the names of the piano keys.