The piano has 88 notes. They are broken into black notes and white notes. Not all keyboards have all 88 notes. The notes to the left of the keyboard sound lower than those to the right. Remember, lower is not softer.
Think of the left side of the piano sounding like ‘elephants pounding on the ground’ and the right sounding like ‘birds chirping in the trees.’ Elephants live low (ground level) and birds high up in the trees. Voila! Now you know low sounds vs. high sounds.
One of the most important notes that we need to find at the piano is the note ‘C’. To find C, first take a look at the black notes of the keyboard. Do you spot the 2-3 pattern? They follow a pattern of 2-3, 2-3, etc. If we play the note to the left of a group of 2 black notes, that note is C.
In this video, Willie explains how to use the sustain pedal to create a legato sound.
You might of heard of the note middle C. This is a C that is closest to the middle of the keyboard. I like to tell students that it is usually close-to, or directly under the name of the piano.
Here’s a tip: try counting up in half-steps from the very far left note on the piano. If you count up 40 half-steps... you have found middle C.
We use our special musical alphabet to name the notes on the piano which goes from A to G. It is easier to see this if we start on C. Notice how after getting to G, we start over at A again. There is no ‘H’ in music!
When we move from one note to the very next note, this is called a half step. Here are some different examples of half steps. There are two places on the keyboard where two white notes next to each other form a half step. This happens between the notes B to C and E to F.
When we raise a note by a half step, we are sharping that note. When we lower a note by a half step, we are flat- ting that note. Sharps raise a note by a half step. Flats lower a note by a half step.
For now, we can think of sharps and flats as being ‘black key’ notes. This is not always the case, but this generalization will make it easier to understand for now.
Each black key has (2) options. It can be either a white note that is sharped or flatted.
Take a look at the black note with the orange dot. See how this can be a C sharp or D flat? Knowing which it should be is not of upmost concern right now. As you learn more about keys and key signatures, it will become clear.