Once upon a time, the European music community decided to name the notes using the first seven letters of the Roman alphabet: A B C D E F G…
These letters are assigned to the seven white keys as follows:
Notice four things:
- As you go “up” the keyboard (to the right), you count up the alphabet.
- As you go “down” the keyboard (to the left), you count down the alphabet.
Furthermore, the seven letter names repeat themselves over and over in the same pattern…
C is always the white note just to the left of each group of two black notes; D is always the white note between the two black notes; E is always the white note just to the right of the two black notes; F is always the white note just to the left of the group of three black notes and so on.
A Word of Advice. It is absolutely crucial that you do not keep using C as a crutch for finding the other notes by always counting up or down from C. Learning that C is the white note to the immediate left of the two black notes is pretty easy, right? Well, the other notes are just as easy to learn. But if you decide to use C as a crutch to find the other notes, your playing and sight reading will be hamstrung (like those who can’t sing their ABCs without going back to the beginning). If you learn each note on its own without needing to rely on C, you will be rewarded handsomely in your playing and sight reading.