Looking to further your mastery by learning the black keys on the piano? Then we’re here to help you on your journey.
If you haven’t mastered the white keys on the piano yet, check our last post. Also if you’re interested in learning more music theory/piano, check out our other tutorials.
Black Keys On The Piano: What Are Sharps & Flats?
The black keys on the piano are also known as the sharp and flat keys. So, if you’ve ever seen a note written like this:
C# or A♭ these are known as sharps and flats. The ‘#’ is known as the sharp and the ‘♭’ is known as a flat.
Each black key is either a semi-tone up or down from it’s respective white key.
So, for instance…
If we take the white note: ‘D’ and move to the black note above it we get a sharp ‘D#’.
If we move down a semi-tone, to the black note below D, we get ‘D♭’.
Make sense? Don’t worry, if not we’ll put some examples below for you.
Now each key can act as sharp (#) or a flat (♭). Don’t get too mixed up over this, the signs are simply placeholders for what the note means.
C# is also known as D♭.
How Many Sharps & Flats Are There?
If you look at the keys on the piano, you’ll notice that the black keys are in groups of 2 and 3.
This therefore means that, in an octave, five sharps will appear. You can use these notes as kind of placeholders to help you find the names of the white keys on piano.
Now we know that there are five notes, we need to understand what their respective names are.
C#, D# F#, G#, A#
D♭, E♭, G♭, A♭, B♭
The notes listed are the EXACT same notes, when played in the order we’ve given them in.
Give it a try and you’ll see!
When following these blog posts/tutorials we recommend you stop to apply what you’ve learned and carry on.
If you keep doing this, you’ll learn a lot faster and the information will sink into your brain & stay there for good 🙂
How Can I Find A Sharp Or Flat?
Finding sharps and flats are easy. It’s just the black notes right?
Although that’s correct, we’re going to give you a simple technique you can use to find the sharp or flat of any note.
Sharps are always to the right of a note.
Flats are always to the left of a note.
Now we know how to find a sharp or flat and understand the logic behind them, it’s crucial that we get the technique down.
You want to take time on this bit as, if you don’t, you’ll end up learning bad habits.
Unlike the white keys on the piano, you don’t want to touch the black keys with your thumb.
In fact you want to keep your thumb off the keys as much as you can.
When playing the black keys you want to try and use your middle three fingers as much as possible.
You can use your pinky when playing black notes on the piano, but this makes it harder to play more than 1 octave (we’ll explain further down).
There are times when using your thumb will be unavoidable, but try to avoid it as much as possible as it’s extremely easy for your thumb to slip off the black keys on the piano.
You really want to be leaving your thumb to hit any white notes, if possible.
In many scales you’ll find that there are both black keys and white keys, so it’s useful to learn this now before you create a bad habit.
With a lot of these scales you may be required to tuck your thumb under to play a white key on the piano from time to time.
We’re going to give you an exercise to practise, so when you encounter this, you’ll be more than equipped to deal with it.
We want you to practise this:
C#, D#, F
Start off with your 2nd finger (the one after your thumb) on the C#. Then you want to play D# with your next available finger.
When you get to the ‘D#’, you’ll need to swing your thumb under your third finger to the ‘F’ (white note).
Keep practising this as it’ll help with technique when you come to play scales as you continue on your learning path.
Anyway that’s it for today!