Note reading for piano is a lot easier than many people think – it all comes down to your ability to memorize and repeat what you’ve remembered. As soon as you have the basics down, you’ve developed the ability to start reading notes. Just practice those skills again and again until they become second nature and you’ll soon be a whiz at piano note reading.
You’ve probably run into the basic musical staff – it’s just five lines and four spaces used to organize the notes. The staff always has a clef at the left side, indicating you you should read the notes in front of you. The two most common clefs you’ll see are the treble and bass clefs. Treble clefs refer to the octaves just to the right of middle C (which we use to position our hands when we sit at the piano). You can recognize a treble clef easily. It looks a bit like a backwards “s” or like an ampersand. Bass clefs on the other hand, shows that we’re playing in the octaves to the left of middle C, and look like a backwards “c”, or perhaps a large comma, with a pair of dots beside them.
No matter what clef is on the staff, the lowest line will represent the note of lowest pitch, and the highest one the highest note. All the lines in between are arranged in ascending order. Treble clefs have E located at the bottom line, followed by G, B, D and F. Pianists use the mnemonic “Every Good Boy Does Fine” to help them remember these notes. Notes are also placed on the spaces between lines. The mnemonic for these notes is easy – in order, they spell “FACE”. If you see lines above or below the staff, treat them just like extensions of it, going down in order.
Piano Note Reading Flat and Sharp Indicators
All of the notes we’ve covered so far are those found on the white keys. The black keys on your piano keyboard are either flat keys or sharp keys, based on their relative positions to the note being played. For example, a note with a “b” indicates to play the black key to the right of the white key representing the note. A note with a “#” indicates to play the black key to the left of the white key representing the note. Also, if the “b” or “#” appears at the beginning or end of the clef, all notes represented by that line, regardless of octave, should be played as if they had a “b” or “#” next to them, unless otherwise individually indicated.