How to Label Piano Keys?

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Who is this article for? Answer one of these questions: Are you new to the world of piano music and just beginning your studies? Have you recently bought your first musical instrument? Or maybe you have had a piano for a long time, but you have not started lessons before? Do you want to play your first song but don’t know where to start?

If this is about you, cheers! Learning music is a fantastic way to strengthen your brain. By the way, it will encourage your creativity and help you express your emotions. And at the very beginning, you need to learn how to read piano notes and learn the piano keyboard layout.

Let’s begin our musical journey!

Should you label the keys on your piano?

We have one very important question  –  to label something or not? Opinions of musicians and piano teachers on key markings are generally divided. Some believe that it is not necessary to designate the keys in any way and study the piano the old-fashioned way.

Other piano teachers are fully supportive of making the instrument as easy to learn as possible for piano beginners, and of course, labeling the keys with piano keyboard stickers.

Let’s name these key notes!

how to label piano keys

Removable piano keyboard note labels

What are the benefits of labeling piano keys?

  1. It is very difficult for beginners, especially young children, to remember the layout of the piano keys. I am a pianist and music teacher. In my experience, students who can’t name notes correctly in class for a long time often get frustrated and lose inspiration.
  2. Learning piano should not be difficult! Absolute beginner students, especially younger students, are encouraged to label their piano keys. So the learning process will be easier and faster.
  3. Let’s turn learning to play the piano into learning with pleasure! You might want to have some fun after you’ve finished labeling the piano keys, so try out some easy beginner tunes!
  4. According to another point of view, labeling piano keys can make learning easier. You won’t waste time looking for music, and your progress will go faster.
  5. You must study and memorize all of the piano keys if you want to be a good student and successful pianist. When you initially begin studying, labeling piano keys can increase your memorizing abilities, help you learn piano chords and scales more quickly, and can be regarded as “step one” of teaching notes.

Let’s start with the basics of music! Before labeling keyboard notes, you must know what they are called.

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The Music Alphabet

What are notes on the piano?

In music notation, notes are symbols that represent the pitch and duration of a sound. There are 88 keys on a full-size piano keyboard. Each key has its own sound, and we must record each sound with a note.

There are 12 notes while studying the piano. The main notes—C, D, E, F, G, A, and B—are as basic as the letters of the English alphabet. This is our music alphabet! We reach the letter G and the white notes repeat the same alphabet.

On the piano, all keys can be divided into groups of twelve keysoctaves – seven whites and five black in each group.

The white keys

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Let’s begin by using the white keys. Look at the keyboard. You see black and white piano keys.

There are two sets of black keys on a piano or keyboard, as you can see. While the second group has three black notes, the first group only has two. These alternate between the piano’s bottom and top.

There will be two, three, two, three, two, three… Nearly forever, but you should understand what we mean.

Find a group of two black keys. To the left of them, there will be a C note. Next, we move from left to right and name all the white keys – C, D, E, F, G, A, B.

The Black keys

The black keys are arranged in groups of two or three keys. For ease of remembering, they can be called like this – chopsticks and a fork.

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These keys do not have their own letters in the alphabet. To name these notes we use special symbols – sharp and flat.


Sharps (#)

A sharp is a special symbol that raises the sound by half a tone (the minimum difference in sound between two adjacent piano keys). The black notes to the right of the white ones are the sharps. If you play C sharp, you will notice that it sounds a little higher than C.

Sharps are marked with a hashtag-like sign, so you can write C#, D#, etc. for black notes.

The two groups of black notes are C# and D#, since the black note to the right of the white note is that note’s sharp. F#, G# and A# are the groups of three black notes we see.

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Flats (♭)

A flat is a special character that, on the contrary, lowers a note by a semitone. Black notes to the left of white notes are flat. As a result, D flat is the first black note in a group of two black keys. As you can see, it sounds below D and is located a little to the left of it.

The flat character looks like a lowercase B. Bb is the correct spelling for B flat.

The two groups of black notes are Db and Eb. Three groups of black notes: Gb, Ab, and Bb.

An interesting feature is that we can write the same sound mi in different ways – using a sharp or flat. For example, C sharp and D flat are the same sound and the same key.

How to Label Piano Keys?

We have already talked about the importance of the piano keyboard layout for beginners and what piano notes are. Now let’s look at what ways and methods of labeling keys exist.

How to label piano keys?

Finding the middle C is critical

The first preliminary step is to find the average. You remember that note C is to the left of the two black keys (chopsticks). But we need only one note C – in the middle C key of the keyboard. It is also called a note С of the first octave, the fourth C key of the keyboard. It is with her that you should start marking the keyboard.

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Have you found her? Wonderful! Now let’s look at 6 ways to label piano keys.

6  Ways to Label Keys on the piano keyboard

1. Marking with multi-colored stickers

The first option is to label the keys with stickers of different colors.

What do you need?

7 colors of self-adhesive paper. Stickers can be rectangular in the shape of the keys, or small circles.

Choose a color for each note. For example, C is purple, D is indigo, E is blue, and so on until note B. Then we start again with the note C.  You can use any colors you like. Mark in this way at least five octaves.

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2. Marking with a dry-erase pen

The second way is even easier – use a dry-erase marker to label the piano keys. This marking is very easy to apply and easy to remove if necessary.

What do you need?

Black marker for white keys and white for black keys.

Just write the note names on the white keys and the notes in sharps or flats on the black keys. With constant practice, the markings will gradually disappear. However, you can write them again at any time. This will only help you memorize the notes even faster.

Check that all written music notes are correct.

Important! DO NOT use a permanent marker, dry erase marker only!

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3. Labeling with letter-note stickers

The third way is marking with the help of stickers with the ABC note names. This method is very similar to the first one.

What do you need?

Self-adhesive stickers in different colors and a permanent marker.

Write the name of the note on each sticker. You can also use white stickers for black keys and write the name of the note with sharps and flats on them.

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4. Marking with single-color stickers

Another method is to label all the keys with the same color and write note names on them with a marker.

What do you need?

Stickers in your favorite color and marker.

Just stick stickers on the keys and write the names of white notes. Also, you can label sharp keys or flat keys with white dot stickers.


5. Labeling with pre-printed labels

The fifth way is to use special piano stickers to mark the keys, which can be bought at any music shop.

What do you need?

Special pre-printed piano stickers.

Such stickers are presented in different versions – just colors, colors with the names of notes, and even with the image of a musical notation. Choose the option you like best or ask your teacher for advice.

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6. Labeling SOME of the notes on the keys

And the last sixth method is to mark only a few notes on piano keys. All the other keys can be left unmarked.

This method will be useful when learning a specific song, as well as for a more advanced level.

How to use it? For example, if you are learning a piece that only needs five notes, you can only mark those notes on your piano.


If you are no longer a beginner and are learning scales, then you can use stickers to mark the necessary keys or fingerings.

Notes for the D major scale.

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Fingering in D major scale for the right hand.

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Different Types of Piano Labelled

Among modern musical instruments, there are electronic and acoustic pianos with different keyboards. They differ in the number of keys. Let’s see what different types of labeled keyboards look like.

88-Keys Piano

A complete eight-octave piano or grand piano keyboard has 88 keys.


76-Keys Piano

The next type has 76 keys.

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61-Keys Piano

Often there are digital pianos with 61 keys.


49-Keys Piano

You can find synthesizers with a smaller scale keyboard and only 49 keys.

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There are also very small keyboards – 37, 36, and, even 32 keys.

Why Should You Label Piano Keys?

We looked at different types of keyboards and different ways of labeling keys. Let’s once again answer the main questions about why you need to mark the keys.

Key labels help you remember them faster!

Every aspiring pianist wants to get through the entry-level as quickly as possible and play their favorite pieces freely. This is impossible without knowledge of notes and keys. So the sooner you memorize the keyboard keys layout, the sooner you’ll move on to harder levels and more interesting songs.

Key labels help you learn scales and arpeggios!

Every student knows how difficult it is to remember notes and fingerings in scales and arpeggios. And here we come to the aid of labeling keys. In this way, it will be easier for you to master these important exercises.

Key labels help you learn chords!

We can say the same about piano chords. This difficult part of the piano technique can also be taught with the help of marking.

Key labels help in learning easy songs for beginners!

And of course, if you’re just starting with your lessons, key markings will help you learn your favorite songs for beginners with ease. So your lessons will be fun and interesting.

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How do you mark a piano key for beginners?

For the first lessons, you only need to mark some keys in the center of the piano. To do this, you need to find the middle C. Let’s label it, 7 keys on the right and 7 keys on the left.

This is enough for a starting position for beginning students. I am sure that piano labeling is especially necessary for younger students.

How to label your piano for a starting hand position?

The starting position is the five-finger position, with each finger assigned to its note. Usually, these are notes middle C (С4), D, E, F, G for the right hand, and notes C, D, E, F, and G in small octave (bass clef) for the left hand (C3, D3, E3, F3, G3).

How are keys numbered on a piano?

Every musical instrument has a specific pitch range (from lowest to highest note). The full-size piano keyboard has 88 keys. We use numbers from 0 to 8 to indicate the pitch. The lowest starting note is A0, then comes B0. The lowest note C has the number 1. The middle C is C4 and the highest note is C8.

How do you write letters on a piano key?

We have already discussed the 6 best ways to label piano keys. If you need to write the name of a note on a key, be sure to use only a dry-erase pen or sticker.


Today we talked to you about the importance of learning the notes and their location on the piano. Don’t neglect this step in your learning to make great progress in music. Now you know what notes are on the piano, where they are located, and 6 ways to mark them.

Learning the basics of music theory – notes, keys, etc. – is indispensable for successful learning to play the piano. But with a little effort, in less than two weeks you will be able to play songs and pieces on the piano.

Don’t forget to also learn what piano pedals are. I hope that this material was useful to you. I wish you great success in learning to play piano!

Best regards, your Lucy.

2 thoughts on “How to Label Piano Keys?”

  1. I’m 22 and I’m just starting to learn the piano, it seems difficult for me to remember all these notes. I will try this solution with key labeling to play simple songs.


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