Though I started playing piano at age six, it took me almost two decades to befriend it for good. The piano is big, and its music has its own language of symbols, I was somewhat afraid of it even after having played it for many years.
As I describe in my short book Piano without Tears, I discovered a simple formula in graduate school that helped me release my fear of the piano, for good.
As long as I could count to twelve, I could get the piano.
The piano has 88 keys (notes) in all. That's a lot of notes. But these can be seen in a simple pattern of 12 notes:
5 black keys + 7 white keys = only 12 different keys!
There are five black keys on any keyboard. Take a look at the picture above. Notice that the black keys come in groups of three black keys and groups of two black keys. They appear in an alternating pattern: a group of two / a group of three / a group of two / a group of three, etc ... (The lone black key on the far left side is a solo member of an unfinished group of three).
There are seven white keys. They are organized according to their position among the black keys. Notice that there are four white keys directly touching the three black keys. There are also three white keys directly touching the two black keys.
So you see, all piano notes are organized in a pattern which has, in all, twelve notes with distinct shapes and positions that help us tell them apart.
It took me more than twenty years to see the simple pattern that is the basis for the piano layout. But I help my students understand this simple formula right away. To find out more about my eight-week Befriend the Piano series, click below to give me a call.
Elisabeth C. Swim
Playful Mindful Music Guide