When playing piano, you need to read both piano notes on a page and locate them on the keyboard. Practicing the piano and thinking about the names and location of the notes as you play will greatly help to improve your efficiency and skill. Some pianists choose to never learn to read music and prefer to use a method that allows them to hear pitches and play by ear. Either way, there are effective ways to remember where the notes are and find your way around the piano.
'Every Good Boy Does Fine'
Using a mnemonic device for the notes on the treble and bass clef staves provides an effective way to memorize piano note names. On the treble clef, remember the notes that go with the lines, reading from bottom to top, with the phrase "Every Good Boy Does Fine" (for E-G-B-D-F). For the spaces, remember those notes this way: If you look between the lines of the staff, you'll see your F-A-C-E. For the bass clef, also going from bottom to top, use the phrase "Good Boys Do Fine Always," for the notes G-B-D-F-A. For the spaces, use the words "All Cows Eat Grass," for A-C-E-G.
When using notation, the placement of the clef on the five-line musical staff also provides a clue to the notes of the piano grand staff. The grand staff consists of two staves, one with the treble clef and one with the bass clef. The treble clef has a loop that wraps around the G-line. For this reason, the treble clef is sometimes referred to as the G-clef. The bass clef has two dots on either side of the F-line. Appropriately, the bass clef also goes by the name of the F-clef.
Piano keys have a pattern that helps players quickly identify individual pitches. Pianos have two types of keys, black keys and white keys. The group of double black keys consists of the notes C-sharp (or D-flat) and D-sharp (or E-flat). Each key can be called two different note names, even though they sound the same. The set of three black keys consists of the notes F-sharp, G-sharp and A-sharp (or G-flat, A-flat and B-flat). You can find C by looking for the white key to the left of the double black keys, and E to the right. F will always be to the left of the triple black keys, and B to the right.
Once you learn to identify the position of keys on the piano, finding middle C poses no problem. Find middle C by sitting directly in the center of the keyboard and find the C that sits closest to the center. It won't be directly in the center, but it will be close. Remember that C sits to the left of the set of two black keys. If you're reading music, middle C written out on a staff exists directly in between the bass staff and treble staff. On the treble staff it has one line through the notehead and sits below the staff. On the bass clef, middle C also has one line through the notehead, but sits on top of the staff.
Playing by Ear
If you're playing by ear rather than reading music, the suggestions above for remembering the notes will help you find them on the piano keyboard. And once you know what certain intervals sound like, such as a perfect fifth, you can locate that interval in one place (say, C to G) and move it elsewhere (for example, E-flat to B-flat), reinforcing your memory of what the interval sounds like and helping you remember the names of the notes at the same time.
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