Keyboard Music Fits Every Musical Style

Keyboard music. What is it about piano, organ, and related instruments that pulls us into a song?

Whether Classical, Jazz, Ragtime, Baroque, or Blues, keyboard music fits every musical style you can imagine.

As a music educator and church musician I have heard more times than I can count that the piano is the foundation instrument to all keyboard instruments.

And though you may never be a choir director, don’t most singers get their awareness of pitch from a keyboard of some type?

That means that you and I, regardless of our main instrument proficiency, need to get some basic keyboard skills before we can do our best as church musician leaders. - pop, classical, country, wedding sheet music find it all at the world's favorite sheet music store!

Five Basic keyboard music skills

(interested in History and more Technical stuff?)

1. Guitar players should tune using a piano or keyboard

I can hear you purists wondering if I’m amiss here. But I am referring to guitar players who play in a band with a piano. Learn where E above middle C is. Learn where the other notes are. Learn the difference between registers a 6-string and a bass guitar might use.

tune guitar to piano

2. Guitar players should learn to chord songs on piano

After you’ve mastered tuning (and training your ear), you’re ready to learn some chords. Learning chords is really helpful when you work with singers.

Learning chords to enhance your keyboard music skills can be done a couple different ways. Click here to download software that uses your PC keyboard to play musical instruments.

One way to start is learning a guitar with notes included. This next link does that by guitar tab,

3. learn to read music; both treble and bass clef

This is not to downplay, (sorry for the pun), the importance of learning to play by ear. But if you’ve had some orientation to reading music, it will help you learn quicker.

4. learn the circle of fourths and the circle of fifths

Have you ever worked with a musician who can change keys on the fly? They learned to do this by mastering the circle of fourths and the circle of fifths. You can hugely increase the amount of music you can play if you get a handle on this basic building block.

5. Have fun

Need a break? Take one - some of the best learning can come through playing a keyboard game.

Piano and music theory

Here's History and more technical stuff

Key patterns

Today’s keyboard layout dates back to the 1400s.

The twelve notes of the Western musical scale start with the lowest note on the left; the longer keys stretch forward on the keyboard. These are called the white notes or white keys.

The keys for the remaining five notes which are not part of the C major scale are set back. These notes are called the black notes or black keys. This pattern starts over at the octave.

White and Black keys

Many keyboard instruments before the nineteenth century had key colors reversed - darker colored keys for the white notes and white keys for the black notes.

But in the 1960s Vox and Hohner did the same thing - so did Roland with its digital harpsichords.

Electronic organs used reverse colors or gray sharps or naturals to indicate the lower section(s) of a split keyboard. Farfisa's FAST series of portable organs had black, light gray and dark gray naturals and white sharps.

The reverse-colored keys on some Hammond organs do not play; they function as selector switches for preset sounds.

Playing Techniques

Although keyboard music instruments look similar, they are different in terms of how you play them. Have you noticed a piano will gets louder the faster a key is played?

But the pipe organ gets its sound from air that flows through pipes and the stops or “patches” selected by the player. When a harpsichord is plucked the volume is not affected by changing the touch like that of the piano is.

The arranger keyboard uses buttons to trigger canned drum patters and/or chords played by pressing one note with the left hand. Voices can be changes as well with a combination of switches and buttons.

Playing a keyboard music instrument can prove to be a challenging task; even though the layout is quite simple and all notes are easily accessible, some music puts high demand on the performer's skills to play accurately and in the correct speed the composer intended

The difference between hearing an more experienced instrumentalist and a beginner ofter comes down to technique. Training and time can fill the gap. Hard work practicing scales and specialized exercises teach the young player to improve. Various arpeggios, (broken chords), trills, wide span chords can be tough for students with small hands.

Developing independent finger strength and coordination is important to create the dynamic affect of many compositions. Some fingers are required to strike harder while some strike softer at the same time.

Add to this being able to coordinate two hands keeping counterpoint, melody, harmony and interweaving patterns together and you can see why mastering keyboard music is accomplished by relatively few musicians. Some view this as training the brain more than training the hands.

piano keyboard

Looking at keyboard music layout, the most stable note of the scale is called the "tonic". Related to the tonic, notes of a scale are often labeled corresponding to their distance from the tonic.

For example, the notes of the C diatonic scale (C, D, E, F, G, A, B) can be labeled {1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7}, reflecting the choice of C as tonic.

The term "scale degree" refers to these numerical labels. In the C major scale, C is the first scale degree, D is the second scale degree, and so on.

How do I match musical notes to my keyboard?

keyboard music

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