The most important thing to remember is that a piano has 7 white notes namely C,D,E,F,G,A,B and 5 black notes C#, D#, F#, G#, A# or Db, Eb, Gb, Ab, Bb (depending upon which key your in). Nevertheless there’s only 7 white plus 5 black which equals a total of 12 piano notes.
The next thing to notice is that the keys repeat again and again and again.
This diagram demonstrates how it works:
Diagram number 1 shows the 12 notes in total
Diagram number 2 demonstrates how this pattern keeps repeating over and over across the entire piano’s keyboard.
So in actual fact if you think about the nature of this wonderful instrument you will notice that it is a repeated keyboard designed to fit a human’s reach. (If we had very, very, very, long arms, we could have a 10 meter wide piano repeating the notes again and again – although this would probably not make much sense as we would not be able to hear the extremely low and high frequencies!)
I hope you’ve enjoyed this little article about how the piano works. It’s essential to understand the nature of an instrument in order to enjoy it more. Piano students who understand the nature of the instrument and how it works will make much faster progress than those without this basic understanding.
A small tip for beginners: Buy a small little keyboard that you can take with you wherever you go. (At work/holiday or a business trip). You can then use that mini keyboard to visualise this exercise in more depth and to practice some of your scale patterns on it throughout different octaves of the keyboard. (An octave is a length of 12. Each new time the 12 notes are repeated, we are operating in a new octave. The sound will go higher in pitch when we ascend on the keyboard and lower in pitch when we descend.)