Piano 101 – Learning Piano Starts From Here

In this Piano 101 post, we will explain the musical notation and pitch.

Learning music is actually a really fun undertaking, regardless of whether the learner is a child or an adult. In reality, the piano is a friendly instrument to start with, especially for learning music fundamentals. In addition, check out 7 Beginner Piano Tips to Get You Started.

At any rate, it is always best to have a piano or a keyboard to play with while you are learning the music fundamentals. Furthermore, you may read this Piano 101 in front of your keyboard and try to match the keys.

Musical Notation

Western music is written on a STAFF consisting of five lines and four spaces. The lines and spaces are numbered upwards as shown:

music 101 - the staff

We use the letters of the alphabet to name the lines and spaces, and the musical alphabet has seven letters:

  • A-B-C-D-E-F-G

The Treble Clef

piano 101, the treble clef

The second line of the treble clef is known as the G line; hence, it is also the G clef. The arrow points out the clef circle is around the G line. All other letter names are figured from the G line.

the line names of the treble clef

The names of the LINES in the Treble Clef are E, G, B, D, and F. For easy remembering, you may think of this sentence: Every Good Boy Does Fine.

the space names of the treble clef

The letter names of the SPACES in the Treble clef are F, A, C, and E.

They spell the word F-A-C-E.

The Bass Clef

piano 101 the bass clef

This sign is the bass clef. As we can see, the fourth line of the bass clef is the “F” line. The two dots in the sign are placed on either side of the fourth line; hence, the bass clef is also the F clef. We can find the other notes in relation to the F line.

the bass clef line names

The lines in the Bass Clef are G, B, D, F, and A. In addition, these letters may easily be remembered by the sentence: Good Boys Do Fine Always.

the bass clef space names

The letter names of the SPACES in the Bass Clef are A, C, E, and G.

And, to help remember the letters, you may use this sentence: All Cars Eat Gas.

Leger Lines

Leger lines are short lines placed above and below the staff. Consequently, for notes above or below the five lines in the staff, leger lines are added. Here are a few examples:

leger line examples

Grand Staff

When we combine both the treble and bass clefs with an added leger line for middle C, it is the Grand Staff. Additionally, the bracket and perpendicular line that joins the two or more different staves is a brace, and the two staves are very typical for piano music sheets.

grand staff

Staff Notation and Keyboard Position

On an 88-key keyboard of a piano, the middle C is the fourth C, counting from the bass on the left. Besides, note C on the piano keyboard is always on the left of the group of two black keys.

The diagram below depicts the staff notation with the corresponding center four octaves on a piano keyboard.

piano 101: keyboard position and staff notations

There is also the term MEASURE when we refer to music in the staff because the staff is divided into measures by vertical lines called BARS. Thus, a measure is the space between two bar lines.

measures and bars on a grand staff

The Pitch

In music, the pitch relates to the frequency of the sound. Therefore, the frequency determines the position of a single sound in the complete range of sound. A high frequency is considered a high-pitch note; in contrast, a low frequency is a low-pitch note.

Conventionally, in orchestral performances or a small ensemble, people use the A note (440Hz) above the middle C to facilitate the tuning of the group. Hence, this particular A note of 440 Hz is the standard pitch.

To Wrap Up…

This Piano 101 is the first part of our Music Fundamentals series. Thus, we explained the written form of Western music and how to read music in regards to the clefs and match the notes on a piano keyboard.

Moreover, you can practice recognizing the notes using some music apps. It is even easier if you are using a digital piano. Many digital pianos for beginners allow you to connect mobile apps and practice like playing a game, for instance, Roland RP102 and Yamaha P125.

Related: Music Fundamentals Series

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