How to help piano students master their ABCs

How to help piano students master their ABCs

Isn’t it amazing how just 7 letters can be so confusing to new pianists? Of course, when you consider how they span 88 keys, maybe it makes sense.

I like to do everything I can to help my students not be confused. And if I can make it colorful and fun, all the better! I have also found that creating variety in how I review the concepts with my students helps them learn better.

Here are some tools and ideas I use in my studio to help very beginner, beginner, and even intermediate students master their ABCs on the piano keys.

Note Houses


The first step for any student in learning piano key names is to identify the two and three black note patterns. I created these printable Note Houses by request and absolutely love them! There are two types of houses which students can easily differentiate between and use to identify every black note cluster on the piano.




Start with just one of the house shapes and teach your youngest students how to find the 2- or 3-black note patterns. Once they are confident in finding both patterns, make a game of finding all the black note patterns. Give your student the houses and time them to see how quickly they can correctly match the houses to the black key patterns. Can they beat their own best time? This also makes a great send-home game so they can daily review their black note patterns.




>>> Get Printable Alphabet Tiles & Note Houses


Alphabet Tiles


After students are comfortable with their Note Houses (or black note patterns), they can branch out to the names of the white keys with Alphabet Tiles. Even if you do not teach color coded notes, the Alphabet Tiles colors will help students further identify patterns. When students place their own letter names on the keys, it better engrains in their minds the patterns and helps them take ownership of their learning.

There are so many games and activities you can do with Alphabet Tiles for various levels. For beginners, sort out the tiles by letter and time the student to see how quickly they can correctly place all of one letter (e.g. all the Cs or all the Es).


For later beginners, mix all the letters up and time them placing them all. Students who are reading music can use the Alphabet Tiles to identify the keys their song uses by placing Alphabet Tiles on the correct keys. You can teach intervals on the white keys by placing two Alphabet Tiles and having the student count the interval. 

>>> Get wooden Alphabet Tiles

>>> Get Printable Alphabet Tiles (with Note Houses)


Note Tiles


Learning the letter names of the keys is further expanded into mastering the exact note for each key and its placement on the staff. Note Tiles work well for students who struggle to remember keyboard geography and mix up “which C is which.”

For beginning students, help them match the notes they are reading with the keys of the piano by placing Note Tiles on the appropriate keys.




For early intermediate students learning ledger lines, use the Note Tiles on the piano keys to remind them exactly what notes those ledger lines are (the Note Tiles set includes two ledger lines above and below the staff for both treble and bass clefs).

>>> Get wooden Note Tiles


Send Home Activities

Students will always learn piano concepts faster if they can bring activities home to do. The printable Note Houses & Alphabet Tiles set is an inexpensive way for students to review what they’re learning at home.




Share your ideas!

This barely brushes the surface of innovative ways to help your students with their letter names and piano keys.

What would you add to the list?

What game ideas do you have for Note Houses, Letter Tiles, or Alphabet Tiles?


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