Finding the Notes on the Keyboard

Question: How does one really remember to look at the key note on paper and find where it is on the piano? I want to be able to see the note and play it on the keyboard. It takes me forever to figure out where the key is. I had this problem when I was in high school, so it is not an age-related problem. Maybe I am not meant to read the notes the way a musically inclined person is? Help!

Albert’s reply: This problem should be considered in several stages. First, are you able to recognize the note on the staff at sight immediately, without a moment’s hesitation? Your preliminary goal should be to be able to name notes on a staff as easily as you can read letters in a text. It is only once you are able to do this with perfect fluency that you should progress to the next step of finding the notes on the piano keyboard.

Assuming you can read music notes as easily as you can recite the letters in your own name, the next step is locating the notes on the piano keyboard. You should start by orienting yourself at the piano. Remember that middle C is located one ledger line above the bass clef and one ledger line below the treble clef:

Next, you need points of reference on each clef that you will then translate to the piano keyboard. The clefs themselves are nothing but symbols that define a particular note on the staff: The treble clef defines the G above middle C, the bass clef defines the F below middle C, and the C clef defines middle C. (C clefs are no longer used in piano music.) It is from these points of reference that the surrounding notes are located.

I designed the How to Read Sheet Music course specifically to handle these two aspects of reading music in detail. I’m certain it’s the fastest way for a student in your position to overcome this obstacle to playing piano. Otherwise, start with the above tips and remember to practice every day. I wish you much success!

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