Helping Piano Preschoolers to See Black Key Patterns

To help students see the groups of two and three black keys on the piano I use these little figures of dogs and gates, as well as my piano builder.

Dogs and gates for the groups of black keys

Seeing black key patterns with dogs and gates

The reason I use dogs and gates is to pave the way for learning the key names later. When they already remember the groups of two black notes as dogs, it’s easy to teach them that ‘doggy d’ is in the middle of these, and ‘g’ and ‘a’ are inside the gate.

Dogs & Gates

Using these is very simple.

  • Print out the cards
  • Laminate if you wish
  • Fold them so they will stand up on the keys

Start by placing one of the dogs on a group of two black keys, and ask your student to find all the other dogs. Then try the gates. This can be done either on the actual piano or on the piano builder.

Download the Printable

You can download the gate & dog cards to print them out for your own piano studio. If you have any questions leave them in the comments below and I’ll do my best to help!

11 thoughts on “Helping Piano Preschoolers to See Black Key Patterns”

  1. Thank you for the dogs and gates! Very cute, used it in first lesson with my nephew to group black notes on the piano and he enjoyed it. Going to use them again with the piano builder to teach the white notes next lesson. I love your idea of teaching that “g” and “a” are inside the gates. I’m going to add a flag for “f” and a bridge for “b” around the castle and see if that helps with the other notes as well. 🙂

  2. I have used these very successfully with my beginners. I have adapted the gate slightly and talk about standing at the Front (F) of the house, going through the gate to the Back garden (B).


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