Piano Notes

In this lesson on piano notes identification we will learn the names and location of the notes on the piano keyboard and their corresponding position on the treble and bass clef (together called the grand staff). This will enable you to begin learning the notes and chords of a song from sheet music.

Before we begin, you need to know that a “full size” piano keyboard is comprised of 88 keys. It (the keyboard) begins with an A tone (note) on the lower end and ends with a C tone (note) on the high end as you can see on our piano graphic below.

The piano 88 keys displayed and middle C marked for reference

While there are 88 keys on a full size piano, you can buy shorter versions with 73, 66, or fewer keys, there are only 12 different notes or tones on a keyboard. These groups of notes or tones are repeated up and down the keyboard and are referred to as an “octave”. C to the next C, either up or down the piano is an octave as is C# to C#, D to D, etc.

You will notice that the five black notes or tones have two (2) different spellings. Both are correct and for now, just concern yourself with their location on the keyboard. For a detailed explanation of a sharp (#) or flat (b) following a note, refer back to our section on Piano Scales. The 12 notes are shown on our graphic below.

Illustration of piano keys with names of each note on corresponding key.

Now before we begin our piano note identification on the treble clef, bass clef, and grand staff we will need to identify where “middle C” is on the piano keyboard. As the name implies middle C “splits” the keyboard down the middle. To find it begin on the lower A tone (note) we discussed earlier and count up 40 tones (notes), black and white piano notes. The 40th tone (note) is middle C.

The top part of the Grand Staff is called the Treble Clef (or Treble Staff) and the bottom portion is known as the Bass Clef (or Bass Staff). The two together form the Grand Staff. The graphic below shows the tones (notes) as they appear on a Treble Clef and Bass Clef and their corresponding position on the piano keyboard.

Piano diagram showing right hand and left hand in relation to the notes on the treble staff and bass staff.

By viewing this graphic you can see why I took the time to explain about middle C on the piano. If the piano notes are located on a Treble Clef, they will be played above middle C. If the notes are located on the Bass Clef, they will be played below middle C. While it looks like there should be more tones (notes) between the B located just above the last line on the Bass Clef and Middle C located just below the D tone (note) below the Treble Clef, these two tones (notes) are side by side on the piano keyboard.

Do not let the information provided here overwhelm you. With our enhanced virtual piano keyboard you can see the notes on the keyboard and their corresponding location on the treble and bass clef. Use the virtual piano link at any time if you need help.

In addition to learning how to identify piano notes on a piece of sheet music, you also need to know what key signatures are. Click on the link below for a complete explanation of key signatures.

Key Signatures – Graphic for key signatures and accompanying table of notated sharps and flats.