When you start playing the piano, there are lots of things to learn, and you probably have many questions you need an answer to.

Many of those questions might have to do with the piano’s keys, which is the reason why I’m going to tell you everything you need to know about them!

I am going to answer the most common questions, and hopefully, you’ll feel a bit wiser after you’ve read this article.

How Many Keys Does a Piano Have?

A full-sized piano has 88 keys, and if you are going to take your piano playing seriously, this is the size to get.

But you might wonder why there are digital pianos and keyboards with fewer keys.

It’s necessarily not wrong that a keyboard has fewer keys, it all depends on what you’re going to use it for.

If it’s going to be used for a pop band where you might only play a few chords, then you might not actually need 88 keys, and might find it more useful to have a smaller piano that can easily be moved.

Another reason to get a smaller piano is if you have a small child that is playing the piano and might not need a full-sized one.

But generally speaking, 88 keys is best.

Here is a picture of what it should look like. As you can see, it has seven whole octaves and three extra keys. All in all, it’s 52 white keys and 36 black.

Piano Keys

What are Piano Keys Made of?

Even though many people still refer to the white keys as ivory, they are most often just made of plastic.

They used to be made of real ivory, but that stopped being the case about forty years ago.

Many people would not want a piano with real ivory since they care about the poor elephants that might have bled to death after losing its tusks.

If you want to find out if your piano has real ivory keys, take a closer look at them.

Ivory keys are made from three parts, and not just one piece, so you should be able to see or feel a line where they’re joined together.

You will also be able to see a pattern similar to a fingerprint, and they will feel very smooth.

Ivory keys easily get yellow over the years, so this can also be a clue.

The black keys are often made from either plastic or ebony, which is a black kind of wood.

They can also be made from some other kind of wood and just painted black.

Back in the day when the piano was young, white keys would be much more used than the black keys, which is the reason why they needed to be made from a strong material, whereas the black, wooden keys were not as frequently used.

How to Clean Your Piano Keys

If your piano has a lid that you can fold over your piano keys when you’re not playing, then use it to protect it from getting dusty.

If not, dust the piano a couple of times a week with a dry microfiber cloth.

As a piano tutor, I need to do more than dust my keys to stop germs from spreading from child to child, so I use a natural cleaning spray between every student that I spray onto a cloth and then wipe the keys with.

Don’t spray directly onto the keys, because then the liquid will run between the keys.

You should also clean your keys like this once in a while, otherwise, they might get sticky.

If your keys are sticky from old post-its and other stickers, you might need to use something stronger.

Make sure to have clean hands before you play the piano, and it will stay clean for much longer.

How to Label Keys for Beginners

If you feel that it’s necessary to label the keys, make sure that whatever you use is easy to remove.

Don’t use a permanent marker that is impossible to get off, in fact, never write directly on the keys.

Your aim should be to learn to find the notes as quickly as possible, so thinly cut post-it notes should be sufficient. (You can cut away the part without glue.)

Put the post-its high up on the keys so that they’re not in the way when you’re playing.

I would also suggest that you only label certain keys, for example, C and G, which will force you to get familiar with the rest by counting but is still something for you to lean on.

Conclusion

I hope that you found this little guide helpful and that you feel more knowledgeable about piano keys now!

Keep asking questions and looking up the answer to them, just like you did today, and you’re going to become an excellent pianist in no time!