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Should you label your piano keyboard?

If you are just starting out to learn the piano, you may have asked yourself this question. Whether you've just bought a keyboard or have had a piano at home for a while, you may never have been able to take the time to memorize the notes on the black and white keys. Would it be easier for you to learn if the piano keyboard was labeled? This article shows you the pros and cons.

Because I'm sure you want to learn how to play your first song online soon. After all, learning to play the piano is not only good for the brain, it encourages creativity, helps you express feelings and, most importantly, it's great fun.

What's the point if the piano keyboard is labeled?

Mark or not? Piano teachers are often divided on whether the keyboard should be labeled. Some are for the classic learning method without labels, others find it useful to mark the keys on the piano, because it makes it easier for beginners to learn the instrument. Here are my arguments:

Therefore, you should label the keyboard keys

Beginners and young students often find it difficult to tell the keys apart on the piano at the beginning. During my own work as a music teacher, I have often seen students lose their interest and motivation when they repeatedly mixed up the note names. Because that made playing the piano very difficult. But it doesn't have to be - here at Skoove we recommend absolute beginners, especially if they are younger, to label the piano keyboard.

Because musical training has many advantages, as this article shows. Skoove therefore wants to make this learning process as easy as possible.

After all, learning to play the piano the easy way usually means having a lot of fun too. Once you have labeled the keyboard keys, not only will you learn the structure of a piano faster, but you will also want to try out a few songs right away! How about a few simple songs especially for beginners?

Another idea is that the labels on the piano keyboard will help you learn faster. If you can find the right keys quickly from the start, you can just play them instead of looking for them. Later you will also learn how to read and play notes faster.

In order to be able to play the piano well, it is essential that you learn the piano structure and remember the different keys. Marking the piano keyboard at the beginning can help your memory and be the first step on the way to learning the notes.

The basics:

Before we look at the different methods of labeling the piano keys, let's take a look at these keys first.

The musical alphabet

In music, we use some of the first letters of the alphabet to name the notes: A, C, D, E, F, G, and H.

The white keys

First, let's take a look at where the white keys are. On the piano or keyboard, you will quickly recognize two groups of black keys: the first group has two, the second group three black keys, from one end of the keyboard to the other.

We use these black keys to organize the white keys. The note / key to the left of the group of two is a C.

As you can see, there are quite a few C-notes on the piano or keyboard - they are always right in front of the two black keys. You can watch this exercise in the Skoove app:

View exercise


The white note to the right of the C on the piano is a D. Then come, as you must have guessed, E, F and G. This is followed by the A, B and C - and we are again in front of two black keys.

These 7 notes are repeated over and over on the white keys: A-H-C-D-E-F-G-A-H-C-D-E-F-G.

The black keys

The black keys are the notes with the signs # and ♭, i.e. the semitones.

Elevated Notes (#)

The raised notes are the black keys to the right of the white keys. The first black key in the group of two is therefore C sharp. This tone sounds slightly higher than C.

The cross symbol to write down these semitones looks like a hashtag: The black keys in the group of two are C # and D # (C sharp and Dis), in the group of three they are called F #, G # and A # (F sharp, G sharp, A sharp ).

Lowered grades (♭)

The lowered (altered) notes are immediately to the left of the white keys. The first black key in the group of two can also be designated Des. This tone sounds a little deeper than D.

The ♭ symbol to note these semitones is reminiscent of the small variant of the letter B. So you would write a Des like this: Db.

The black keys in the group of two are Db and Eb (Des, Es), in the group of three they are called Gb, Ab and B (Ges, As, B).

Short repetition: # is higher, b is lower. These musical terms are often used, e.g. E.g. when a guitar player says the A-string is tuned a semitone too high or too low.

The 5 most popular ways to label the piano keyboard

Now that you know where to find the various notes, it should be easy to label the keys on your keyboard accordingly.

There are many different ways to mark the piano keys - each with advantages and disadvantages. Here are the five most popular methods.

1) Color mark the keys

Colored marking is a good idea, especially for very young beginners at the piano. This makes it easier for children who cannot read and write to learn the arrangement of the keys.

Some older beginners, on the other hand, learn by ear at the beginning. This article on the Skoove Blog explains how this works. When you play by ear, you are not reading the sheet music. In this case, too, it can therefore be helpful to highlight the keyboard keys in color.

In my opinion, the color method supports memory. Because you don't write the note names directly on the keys, but connect a certain color with a certain note in your head.

What you need for this:

Colored stickers you can find in every office supply store. Make sure that they are self-adhesive and get the sticker sheets or sticker rolls in AT LEAST five different colors.

How to mark your piano keyboard using the color method:

Find middle C (C4) and put a red sticker point there.

Glue a green dot on the D

a yellow dot on the E,

an orange-colored point on the F

and a black point on the G.

Most of the pieces and exercises for beginners use these five first notes of the C major scale. For some, you even need fewer notes, like the Jaws theme, which actually only uses two different notes. Here's the proof at Skoove:

View exercise

But don't focus too much on the colors, they are ultimately just an illustration. You can also use other five colors and if there are more in your package, mark the next two buttons, i.e. A and H, in color.

By the way, at the University of California, Berkeley, some time ago scientists discovered the following: Our brains associate music with certain colors depending on how we feel when we listen to this music. You can find more details on this in this article.

2) Write notes on the keys

With this method, you label the piano keys directly with the appropriate notes. This is without a doubt the easiest way to start playing the piano.

What you need for this:

A roll or sheet of white dot stickers, which you can also find in any office supply store. You can also use other blank white stickers or decals that you cut to the required size.

Highlight the piano keyboard: Label the keys with the notes

If you know which notes are on each key, it's quick to do.

Find middle C (C4) on your piano or keyboard.

Then stick one of the white sticker dots on all white keys from C4 to the next C, a total of eight. Then place five stickers on the five black keys of this scale.

Now you can write on the stickers! The first sticker is on the C key? Perfect. Then write C - D - E - F - G - A - H - C one after the other on the stickers of the white keys.

Finally, you mark the black keys. You can choose between the note names of the raised # tones and the lowered ♭ tones. I recommend labeling the buttons with both names.

It can look like this:

In the group of two black keys, label the first with C # / Db, the second with D # / Eb. You mark the group of three black keys one after the other with F # / Gb, G # / Ab and A # / B.

When all the keys are labeled, you can start playing the piano! How about a song from the Skoove app? This simple editing of "Don't worry be happy" by Bobby McFerrin is a good start:

Start exercise

3) Mark only a few notes on the keys

Another option is to label just a few keys on your piano or keyboard. You can decide how many notes you want to label or how many markings you need to make your learning process easier.

What you need for this:

A roll or sheet of white dot stickers that you can find in any office supply store.

How to label some notes on the piano keyboard:

There are different methods for doing this. You could highlight just the white keys, or just some of them, for example the A, H, and C notes, or the C, E, and G notes.

Some students start by labeling all the keys on the piano and gradually removing stickers as they can play better, until only a few are left. If you love challenges and have some experience, this could be a good method for you.

There is also an article on the Skoove Blog on the art of practicing the piano properly. If you want to play without any markings on the keys as soon as possible, you will find practical tips there.

4) Go all out - notes and notation

If you want to jump in with all your might, try this method. You can also see what the notes you play would look like on a sheet of music. To do this, you label the keyboard keys not only with the note names, but also with a small illustration of the notation.

What you need for this:

Get a set of piano stickers or keyboard stickers that are available for exactly this purpose. In this case, that's actually better than trying to make these stickers yourself.

Many music stores or sheet music dealers offer various accessories for learning to play instruments. There you will find tools like these here:

You can also find such stickers at various online retailers.

How to mark keyboard keys with printed stickers:

Note: These stickers tear easily - so be careful when you open the package and then place it on the piano keyboard.

Then go to middle C (C4) on the piano. If you bought a sticker set with several octaves, pay attention to the other C notes. Attach the appropriate stickers to the respective C keys.

Then stick all the D stickers on the piano keys, then the stickers with E etc.

When you're done with the white keys, move on to the black keys with the semitones. Start with the groups of two (C # and D #) and then label the groups of three (F #, G # and A #) at the end.

5) Show me how to start ...

I call this method "show me how to start" because that is what it is all about. Beginners at the piano often find it difficult to find their starting hand position at the beginning - but once they have found this, the practice pieces are easy for them to do. To help you with this, you can only mark the starting position with this method.

What you need for this:

Any type of sticker or sticker is suitable for this.

How to label the keyboard for the starting position of your hand:

Your stickers should have a size of about 1 x 1 cm.

Go to middle C (C4) on the piano, place a sticker there, and use a marker to write “C” on it.

That should be enough to find the starting position for your hand, where you usually start with your thumb on the C that you just marked. Now you can try to play the melody of Beethoven's “Ode to Joy” from this position. This Skoove exercise will help you:

Start exercise


With these five methods of labeling your piano keyboard, you can easily begin your musical journey. The methodology of the Skoove Piano App will help you with this, because you learn at your own pace. And the better you can play, the sooner you will be able to do without the labeling of the keyboard keys. Have fun learning the piano!


Author of this blog article:

Roelof Strydom is a copywriter whose content has been published worldwide. Born with perfect pitch, he honed his music reading skills during his time at the world-famous Drakensburg Boys Choir School. When he's not writing, he plays the piano, drinks red wine, reads good books or drives his old Benz through the vast landscapes of South Africa, where he lives. He runs a music school with currently 250 students and is a well-known piano entertainer who performs regularly in Johannesburg.