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Beginning Piano Lessons: Naming the Black Keys

In this lesson I will teach you how to find the names of the black keys on the piano.

In my previous video I covered the names of the white keys. You will need to know them as the names of the black keys are based off of the white keys.

When musicians talk about the notes A, B, C, D, E, F, and G, they are referring to the natural notes or the white keys on the keyboard. Notes can be altered with the use of accidentals, which are known as sharps and flats. Accidentals are used to raise or lower the pitch of a tone.

Think of the black keys as having nicknames. Each black key has two names: it’s sharp name and its flat name depending on if we had to raise or lower the closest white key to get there.

A Sharp is a symbol that tells us to raise that note by a half step. A half step is the smallest step we can take on the piano going up or down.

If we take Middle C and raise it by a half step we get to this black key, which is known as C#. If we find D and go up a half step, we get to the black key known as D#. If we find F and go up a half step we arrive at F#, etc.

A Flat is a symbol that tells us to lower a note by a half step. If we take D and lower it a half step, we come to Db. If we find E and lower it a half step we arrive at Eb. If we find B and lower it a half step we arrive at Bb, etc.

Sometimes, you will run into a white key who’s nickname or enharmonic name is a sharp or flat name depending on how it is written. An example of this is Cb. Cb is actually B natural. Another example is E#. If we raise E by a half step, we get to the note F, which is sometimes written as E#. White notes written as sharp or flat notes show up depending on what scale you are playing in.

Now that you know how to name the sharp and flat name for each black keys, let’s practice naming enharmonic notes. When a black key has a sharp and flat name that are written differently but are actually the same note on the piano, they are called, enharmonic notes. C# and Db are enharmonic notes because they are written or spelled differently but are actually the same exact note on the piano.

Homework:

1) Pick a random black key and name it’s sharp name and flat name.
2) Find all the Sharp keys: A#, B#, C#, D#, E#, F#, and G#
3) Find all the Flat keys: Ab, Bb, Cb, Db, Eb, Fb, and Gb

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