How to Label the Piano Keys

Labeling the Piano Keys

Let’s label the piano keys, so you can start building piano chords! Piano chords are a wonderful way to learn and enjoy the piano, and provide lots of room for personal expression and creativity.

Piano Keys

On a piano or full-sized keyboard, there will be 88 total keys, black and white.

The first white key all the way to the left will be an A. The white keys progress in alphabetical order, so next is B, C, D, E, F and G.

label the piano

Once we reach G, the notes repeat themselves, and we start over again on an A.

The black keys come in sets of two and three all the way up the piano. We can think of them as positioning notes, or markers, to help us identify the location of the white keys. The black keys can be labeled as sharp or flat, depending on the key you are playing in. You can read more about that here.

If your keyboard is smaller than 88 keys, you can still use this information to label it. Regardless of the size of the keyboard, a C will always be the white key just to the left of two black keys. And an F will always be the white key just to the left of three black keys. Since the notes progress in alphabetical order, A – B – C – D – E – F – G, and then repeat, once you identify one key you can label the others accordingly.

learn piano chords charts printable pdf

Learn Piano Chords Printable

Learn the concepts for playing the piano with chords with this comprehensive 42-page PDF. These charts will lay a great foundation for you at the piano, and will be referenced again and again!

Low Notes and High Notes

The notes on the left are low, and the notes on the right are high. The pitch of the notes moves up progressively, with the highest note on a full-sized keyboard being a C.

Other Keyboard Sizes

Some keyboards aren’t full-sized, so they don’t have all 88 keys. The lowest and highest notes are missing, compared to a full-sized keyboard. Some common sizes of keyboards are 76-key, 61-key, and 54-key keyboards.

Regardless of the size of your keyboard, the important thing to remember is that the white keys will always have the same name based on their relationship to the black keys. So any white key just to the left of two black keys will be a C, and any white key just to the left of three black keys will be an F.

Label Your Piano Keys

Now that you know the names of the white keys, you can take some time to practice them.

label the piano keys

One way to practice is to pick any white key at random and identify it, and then repeat. You can also practice finding all the C notes on your piano, and then practice finding all the D notes, and so on.

Conclusion

Now you know how to label your piano keys, and you can use that knowledge to start building chords! Once you know how to build different types of chords, you can create chord progressions and play creatively, which is lots of fun!

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46 Comments

  1. Masum

    Hi, I was wondering what the middle note was for a 61-key keyboard. I just wanted to be sure that I don’t have it labeled wrong(Started it with C). Since it’s also my first time learning as well! 😅

    Reply
    • Julie Swihart

      Hi! Yes, the way you can tell is that any key just to the left of two black keys will be a C, and any key just to the left of three black keys will be an F. The notes progress in alphabetical order, A – B – C – D – E – F – G, and then repeat, so once you can identify one key, the rest can be ordered accordingly. Have fun!

  2. Michael Donovan

    Hi, Juli.

    trust my email finds you well,,Julie i have a young man that wishes to learn piano.

    the question he has asked me to ask you so i can forward to him,

    he currently plays piano using the letter system is ABCDEFGA, from this he uses Sharps and flats along with his chordings,

    he wishes to reset up playing music by the number system,,meaning he wishes to number his keys on the piano,,

    in all honestly I’ve never paid by number meaning i neither play by chocolates im a natural player and play by ear,,,i can here any song and simply apply myself,,as also reading sheet music,

    im assuming therefore whats being asked,,he plays an 88 key keyboard he happens to mention this is,a stage piano em, an RD 2000 i am led to believe.

    can you by any means possible help me to help this 16yr old young manset his new RD 2000 up,

    so we have 88keys that are inclusive of Flats & Sharps and wight keys i believe what he wants to do is number all the keys on his piano,,

    so in hindsight play by number could you possibly forward me the numbering sequence on an 88key piano,

    hopefully this will get him applying himself.

    with

    warmest thanks

    Michael Donovan

    Reply
    • Julie Swihart

      Hi Michael,
      Thanks for the question! I’m sorry I don’t have any resources for the numbering system of piano playing. I know there is a system called the Nashville Number System, which uses the numbers 1-7 to number the chords in a particular key, but using this system means the numbers are labeled based on the key being used. So if he is playing in the key of C major, the C chord would be “1”, Dm would be “2”, Em would be “3” and so on, but in the key of D major, the D chord would be “1”, the Em chord would be “2” and so on. I do have a post teaching how to find the chords for major keys here: https://www.julieswihart.com/chords-by-key/ if that would help as a starting point. Once he is familiar with the chords in a particular key he could then substitute numbers for chord names if he’s interested in that approach.
      Thank you!

  3. Romeo Danquah

    Thank you so much Julie for this information. I’ve been trying to learn the keyboard for years, but the mere sight of the 61 black and white keys have always scared me off.
    However, I visited a friend today and met him playing a keyboard. So I asked him to teach me. And he gave me a brief beginner’s oral tutorial. When I returned home, I decided to google for piano/keyboard foundational tutorials to reinforce the lesson I’ve obtained. I was immediately drawn to your website among all the search results google gave. I believe I was unconsciously led by the Holy Spirit. To the glory God, as I began reading, I am just understanding every information. Your lessons are presented simply and succinctly yet very profound. God richly bless you.

    Reply
    • Julie Swihart

      Oh that’s wonderful, I’m so glad to hear that! What an encouraging message – thank you for sharing, and I’m so glad to know this is helpful! Maybe you’ve already found this, but under the “Start” tab in the menu, you can click on “Learn Piano” to find a series of numbered blog posts which you can read through to help lay a great foundation for learning the piano with chords. Thank you!

  4. Rui Sarmiento

    Hello Julie,

    Hope you are doing well. Thank you very much for this information. I just recently purchased a 61-key keyboard.
    I just wanted to ask, since you’ve mentioned that for 61-key, the first key will start at C, does it mean I should label my keyboard like this:
    C-D-E-F-G and then A-B-C-D-E-F-G and so on..

    or like this:
    C-D-E-F-G and then start again with C-D-E-F-G?

    Looking forward for your kind response 🙂

    Reply
    • Julie Swihart

      I’m glad to hear you have a keyboard! Yes, a 61-key keyboard will look like this: C – D – E – F – G – A – B – C and so on. The pattern is A – B – C – D – E – F – G, and then repeats, so if a keyboard doesn’t start on A, the pattern will be the same but will start on a different note. Enjoy learning piano!

  5. Anaiah

    Hi, I am a beginner and I need to learn a song for a school test could you please help me. I have a 36-key keyboard and I was wondering what each key is.

    Reply
    • Julie Swihart

      Hi, yes the way you can tell is that any key just to the left of two black keys will be a C, and any key just to the left of three black keys will be an F. The notes progress in alphabetical order, A – B – C – D – E – F – G, and then repeat, so once you can identify one key, the rest can be ordered accordingly.

  6. Leni

    Hi Julie,
    I’ve started my son off with a smaller keyboard to see if he gains interest in it, etc. before moving up to something more complex.
    The keyboard he has is the Casio SA-76, which has 44 keys. Would you be able to advise or point me in the direction to understand how to label the keys on this one?

    Reply
    • Julie Swihart

      Hi Leni, Yes these keyboards start on an F. The way you can tell is that any key just to the left of three black keys will be an F, and any key just to the left of two black keys will be a C. The notes progress in alphabetical order, A – B – C – D – E – F – G, and then repeat, so once you can identify one key, the rest can be ordered accordingly. I hope your son enjoys learning piano!

  7. Ian Saph

    Hi Julie Swihart,
    I am 70; I took piano lessons when I was 8 but didn’t last long — [Cherny 2]?
    Then the Music teacher expelled me from Music Class when my voice changed (to a tone-deaf) when I was 15; out of rebellion I took lessons on Korean instrument, Gayageum, for a little while (don’t remember a thing)…
    When I spent some time at a Mental Hospital, one of the Counselor played piano; she played a song then changed the chords and played the same song flawlessly then changed the chord again & had no trouble playing same song with different chords; I still marvel how that is possible…

    Reply
    • Julie Swihart

      Yes, transposing a chord progression from one key to another can look somewhat complicated, but the process behind it comes down to understanding the chords for a particular key. For example, if she was playing a chord progression in the key of C major, she would be using the chords from the key of C (you can learn how to find those chords here: https://www.julieswihart.com/chords-by-key/). Then if she wanted to transpose to the key of G major, she would move each chord from C up 3 1/2 steps to the key of G (the distance from a C to a G). The chord types remain the same (major, minor, etc.) but the chords are built with the notes from the new key.

  8. Carrie L Menough

    I have a 54 key keyboard. I’m just an older beginner and would like to know where to begin. If you could help me as to where to start and what letter. I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Julie Swihart

      Hi Carrie, Yes, a 54-key keyboard starts on a C. The way you can tell is because any white key just to the left of two black keys is a C, and you can apply that rule to any keyboard. Also, I have a series of posts under the “Start: Learn Piano” tab in the menu of my blog that will walk you through the basics for learning the piano with chords if you’d like to check that out: https://www.julieswihart.com/learn-piano/ I hope that helps!

  9. Olivia

    I need help know how to lable my 76 keyed piano

    Reply
    • Julie Swihart

      Yes, a 76-key keyboard starts on an E. The white keys are labeled alphabetically from A – G, so the next white key will be F, then G, and then the pattern begins at A and continues until the next G. A full-sized 88-key keyboard starts on an A, so you can think of a 76-key keyboard as just missing a few notes on each end compared to a full-sized keyboard, which is why it starts on E instead of A.

  10. Arunava

    Really happy to find out such wonderful visuals on Piano theory. Thank you so much for sharing such content! Helping me a lot towards my piano journey for sure!

    Reply
    • Julie Swihart

      You’re welcome, I’m glad it’s helpful!

  11. Joe Man

    Thanks very much dear for the good work

    Reply
    • Julie Swihart

      You’re welcome, I’m glad it’s helpful!

  12. PETER SMITH

    Whilst the importance of Middle C has been recognised for decades, I am so pleased to see that you adopt the intuitive approach of starting the musical journey at A… ABCDEFG. I know at 66 I am a dinosaur but I can distinguish the notes on the piano keyboard much easier by learning from and starting from A. Music and piano purists must be fainting at the thought of such sacrilege.

    Reply
    • Julie Swihart

      I enjoyed your humor! And I’m glad you appreciate this approach!

  13. Ethan Metz

    Thanks this helped a lot!!!!!!!

    Reply
    • Julie Swihart

      I’m glad to hear that!

    • Dave Buchanan

      Julie, well done. I hadn’t touched a piano in 40 years. I do recall only playing sheet music and piano solos during a few years of lessons. I do not recall learning chords, progressions, etc. Only scales. I very recently fixed a couple keys on an inexpensive keyboard. I have been trying for a couple weeks every day to see if I will stick with it. Well, it appears that I will. I purchased your 25 pager. I like the 1 stop shopping as that appears to have everything I will need for quite a while! Today I pick up a much higher quality keyboard. Cannot wait. Also, your songs are beautiful. I did see a link where you teach Amazing Grace. Will get to that soon. My father went to heaven 15 years ago and it was his favorite song. I expect to play it for my mother. Oh boy, that will be a tear jerker. Haha. God Bless you and your family. Dave.

    • Julie Swihart

      I’m so glad to hear you’re learning the piano with chords and getting a keyboard! Thank you for purchasing the charts, and thank you so much for the encouragement! I hope you enjoy learning and playing Amazing Grace for your mom.

  14. gods love tile

    love it get to learn new things thanks a lot

    Reply
    • Julie Swihart

      You’re welcome, I’m glad it’s helpful!

  15. Jeff J Fontano

    Wow I’m actually learning the piano instead of trying to follow along wit a teacher that is pushing music theory very heavily. I applaud your teaching style Julie!! Keep up the constant simplicity. Love it!!
    Jeff

    Reply
    • Julie Swihart

      I’m so glad it’s helpful!

  16. Liz

    Thank you for this! I’m just re-learning piano (my last class was 30+yrs ago) and was feeling rather intimidated and overwhelmed. I love that you explain things so well and make it easy to understand. Keep up the good work!

    Reply
    • Julie Swihart

      Thank you so much Liz! I’m so glad you’ve picked it back up!

  17. Terese R Conklin

    Thank you for this great info! It helps me tremendously.

    Reply
    • Julie

      I’m so glad to hear that!

  18. Dave Miller

    Every musician has a mentor. May yours be those instructing hands.

    Reply
    • Julie

      Thank you for the encouragement!

    • Rubab Sakina

      WITH MOST RESPECTED MAM,
      REALLY APPRECIATED MATTER
      OF EXPLAINED EACH ONE TOPIC OF MUSIC THEORY.
      THANKS.

    • Julie Swihart

      You’re welcome, I’m glad it’s helpful!

    • c goude

      this is really nice but i just purchased a 41 key and dont know how to start the chords. Im just a beginner

    • Julie Swihart

      I’m glad you want to learn piano! Yes, the way you can tell is that a white key just to the left of two black keys will be a C, and a white key just to the left of three black keys will be an F. The notes progress in alphabetical order like this: A – B – C – D – E – F – G, and then repeat. So once you identify one key, the rest can be ordered accordingly.

    • DANIKA

      hello i was wondering if you can help me letter my MIDI KEYBOARD?

    • Julie Swihart

      Hi Danika, yes a MIDI keyboard will be labeled the same way a regular keyboard would be labeled, so the white key just to the left of two black keys will be C, and the next white key will be D, and then E, F, and G. Then the notes will start over at A. Have fun with your MIDI keyboard!

    • Alexis Bante

      I am excited to play my digital piano and relearning after decades of not playing. Maybe placing a sticker on each key will help me remember.

    • Julie Swihart

      That’s great, I’m glad to hear that!

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