There are 12 notes in Western music (music originating from the Western hemisphere of Earth). These notes are labeled using the letters A, B, C, D, E, F, G and the symbols ♭ (flat) and ♯ (sharp). Additional symbols like (double flat), (double sharp), and ♮ (natural) are also used in music notation. Seven of the 12 notes are referred to as natural notes and are the white keys on a piano. (We’ll talk about the black keys a little later.) Natural notes are labeled with just a letter and no symbol.

Memorize This

The natural notes are A B C D E F G.

Piano Keyboard Patterns

Take a look at a full piano keyboard.

Full piano keyboard

Notice the patterns on the keyboard:

  • The black keys repeat in groups of 2, 3, 2, 3, 2, 3,…
  • Every black key has a white key to each side. Black keys are never side by side; they are always separated by one or two white keys.
  • There are two white keys side by side between every group of black keys.

Memorize This

The white key to the left of each group of two black keys is always the note C.

Piano keyboard showing all C keys.

Middle C

The C in the middle of the keyboard is called Middle C. Well – it’s not exactly in the middle, but it’s still called that. There are three lower C’s to its left and four higher C’s to its right. Beginning pianists use it as an approximate border between keys played with the left hand and keys played with the right hand. Middle C is the same pitch as the second string’s second fret on guitar.

Location of Middle C on both piano and guitar.

Check Yourself

Study the previous piano keyboard diagram and then answer the following questions.