Issue 8: How to Draw a Piano Keyboard

Drawing a piano is a very useful skill for answering theory questions, teaching keyboards, and creating musical birthday cards.  I have also found that piano students often find it much easier to grasp the intricacies of the notes and fingerings of the fiddlier scales and arpeggios when you draw a keyboard and mark the required notes in colours; one set of numbers for right hand fingering, and another colour for left hand fingering.

Here are two different ways of drawing keyboards:

The “Untidy” Method

This is the method I use when teaching keyboard to Wider Opportunities classes. It has a sort of running commentary, which the children join in with as I draw.

First of all I draw a long horizontal line, for the back of my keyboard.  Then I draw in a row of gappy teeth, two, then three, then two, then three “oh dear, what a crooked row of teeth”. I colour in the teeth “Ugh, they haven’t been brushing their teeth very well, they’ve gone all black”. Now I draw a tongue coming out of each tooth (yes, I know that is anatomically impossible, but that’s what it looks like to me) “How rude to stick your tongue out like that.  If these teeth can’t behave themselves, I will have to separate them”.  I draw dividing lines between the groups of three teeth and the groups of two teeth. “Right, that’s done, I’ll just underline the lot”.  I draw a line across the bottom of the diagram, and, miraculously, the rotten teeth turn themselves into a keyboard.

The “Tidy” Method

I learned this method from a colleague.  She drew a ladder, lying on its side, made from two horizontal lines with equally spaced vertical rungs joining them.  She then drew sets of two and three rectangles to form the black notes over the top half of the rungs, leaving a clear rung between each set of notes.

Labelling the notes.

The note “D” (for Dog) lives in between the TWO BLACK NOTES, which form a sort of roofless dog kennel.  (“It’s no good putting dogs in the adjacent kennels formed by the THREE BLACK NOTES as they will only bark and fight all night long”).  Once you have put “D” in its place, it is a simple matter to label the rest of the notes.

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