Introduction: How to Find Treble and Bass Clef Notes on the Piano for Beginning Pianists

There are really two steps to learning our notes in piano playing.

First, we learn what the note names on the music staff are. (but we're only 1/2 way there)

Second, we have to learn where those notes are on the piano keyboard so we can play them.

Our last lesson covered how to read notes on the music staff in both the treble and bass clefs. Now, we're going to learn how to find those notes on the piano. If you have any questions about note reading on the music staff, make sure to review this lesson before going on.

We're going to take the Treble Clef notes first. Most times we will play treble clef notes with our right hand, especially when we're first starting to learn how to play.

Step 1: Finding Treble Clef Notes on the Piano Keyboard

Usually, we wait until the end of each lesson to get our keyboards and practice together, but today, you need to go ahead and be sitting at your keyboard as we go through each written step of this lesson.

You'll have a chance to practice with me in the video section of the lesson and we'll go over extra notes that aren't covered in this written portion.

The first and most important note that we need to learn on the keyboard is Middle C. (image 1)

  • Remember, that Middle C is below the music staff in the Treble Clef...and the 1st line on the music staff is the note E.

There are 2 ways to find Middle C:

  1. If you have a full-size keyboard (which has 88 keys), Middle C will be the 4th C from the very bottom note of the keyboard.
  2. If you have a smaller keyboard or an electronic keyboard, you want to look for either an LCD screen in the middle of your keyboard or for the make/model info which is always located in the middle of the keyboard. Middle C is the closest C to those labels.

Once you find Middle C, you're all set to find all the other notes in the treble clef. Let's find another note.

  • This time we're going to find the note E.

First, think about how far E is from C. It's 3 notes away, not right next to it. (We skip over D). Starting with Middle C, count up 3 notes and you land on E, on your keyboard.

  • Let's take one more, and find the note D. D is just after Middle C, so we're not going up as far this time. We're just moving up one note. Do you notice how the notes are in consecutive order just as we learned them on the staff?

You can find all of your Treble Clef notes like this...just remember to always start with Middle C.

Now let's look at where our Bass Clef notes are on the keyboard.

Step 2: Finding Bass Clef Notes on the Piano Keyboard

Let's go back to Middle C, except this time it's in the Bass Clef and we're using our left hand to play these notes and the notes will be going down from Middle C, not up as we did in Treble Clef. (image 1)

Remember that Middle C is above the music staff in the Bass Clef.

If we follow the same principle by counting down the keyboard from Middle C to find our notes, we can find any one of them. Do it exactly how you did with Treble Clef notes, except go down(left) instead of up(right).

  • Let's find the note A on the keyboard in the Bass Clef.

Simply count down 3 notes from Middle C and you land on the note's that easy! Just like we did in the last step, we skip a note for this first example...and the note that we're skipping is B.

  • Next, we're going to find another A in the Bass Clef. It is important to know that even though there are 7 notes in the musical alphabet, they are played in lots of different octaves and appear differently in these octaves in your piano music.

So how do you know where which one is?

  • This note is A, just like the last one, but you'll notice that it's different in 2 ways: First, it's on a space and not on a line. Second, it's farther away from Middle C than the first A is. These 2 clues tell us that this A is lower than the 1st one thus we can count down from either the Middle C or the 1st A that we found, to find this one.

Now let's go over more examples of notes on the keyboard in each clef in addition to the ones that we've covered here.

Step 3:

This video lesson is an important addition to the written portion because I go over a lot more notes in each clef and discuss how you can find notes that are the same but played in different octaves.

The visuals from this video are really good at showing you exactly where each note that we discuss is on the keyboard and paired with the intellectual understanding of how to find notes on the keyboard will give you a great foundation on reading and playing your notes!

Make sure that you review any notes that you're still learning on the music staff before trying to find all of them on the piano keyboard. This is a lot of information to process but if you give yourself time and put in some steady work, you'll master your note reading and playing very quickly!