Sunday, 14 September 2014

A trick to help beginners learn the names of the white piano keys

Notice that the black keys have a pattern.  They are in alternating groups of 2s and 3s.  It also helps to know that “up” on the piano means moving from left to right, and “down” means moving from right to left.  Go up and down the piano finding the groups of 2s and 3s to familiarise yourself with the geography of the keyboard.

We’re going to call the groups of 2 black notes “dog houses”.  Inside the dog house is D for dog.  Find some D’s, and say out loud “D in the doghouse” as you play them to help drill it into your memory.

Underneath the dog house (the key to the left of D) is C for cat.  Cats and dogs don’t get along, so the cat isn't allowed inside the dog house.  Find some Cs.  Remember they Cs are under the dog house, or down the piano from D.   

On top of the dog house (the key to the right of D) is E for elephant.  He’s too big to fit inside the dog house!  Find some Es. Remember the elephant is on top of the dog house, or up the piano from D.

Now you can find 3 out of 7 key names.  Find all the groups of C-D-E on the piano, and test yourself finding D for dog, C for cat and E for elephant.  

Next let’s look at the white keys in and around the groups of 3 black keys.  We’re going to call the groups of three black keys “grandma’s houses”.  Living in grandma’s house are grandma and Auntie A.  These are the two white keys on the inside of the groups of 3 black keys. G for grandma has a bad hip and has to stay downstairs (inside left) and Auntie A lives upstairs (inside right).  Find some Gs and As, making sure not to get them the wrong way around!

Now let's find the last 2 notes - B, and F.  Grandma’s house has a back door (B – the note to the left of grandma’s house) and a front door (F – to the right of grandma’s house).  

Find all the groups of F,G,A,B and test yourself finding F for front door, G for grandma, Aunty A and B for back door.

Drill yourself on all 7 letters for a couple of minutes. 

Where’s F for front door?  D for dog?  G for grandma?  C for cat?  B for back door?  E for elephant?  Aunty A?


Even though this trick uses an imaginative child-like approach, it can be really helpful for adults too.  Hopefully by the end of working through this page you’ll have a useful tool to help you name notes anywhere on the piano without first having to go to the bottom of the piano and count up from A!

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