Remembering The Order Of Sharps And Flats

You may have learned that flats and sharps appear in the key signature at the beginning of a piece of music. 

But, did you know they will always be written in a certain order?  The cool thing about this is once you memorize the order of sharps and flats, it is much easier to get started playing.

Let’s take a look at the sharp keys first.

Order of Sharps

The order of sharps in the sharp keys will always appear like this: F#-C#-G#-D#-A#-E#-B#

This means that every time you see sharps in your key signature, they will always be written in this order making it easier to read at a glance.

order of sharps and flats

For instance, let’s say I looked quickly at the key signature and noticed there are three sharps

I don’t have to stare at it very long to figure it out because I already have the order of sharps memorized. 

I know right away that the three sharps are F#, C# and G#.

An easy way to remember the order of sharps is to memorize this saying: Fat-Cats-Go-Down-Alleys-Eating-Birds

This is a mnemonic device with the first letter of each word representing each sharp.

Order of Flats

The order of flats is also easy to remember.  The order of flats includes Bb-Eb-Ab-Db-Gb-Cb-Fb

An easy way to remember this is B-E-A-D-Go-Catch-Fish

Again, if you have this memorized, all you have to do is glance at the key signature and you will know what the flats are.

Let’s say we have four flats listed in the key signature. Without thinking about it too hard, remember the first four flats (B-E-A-D) and that will tell you very quickly what flats to play. 

This is pretty easy, huh?

Another Cool Fact…

The order of flats is the same as the order of sharps written backwards (F-C-G-D-A-E-B and B-E-A-D-G-C-F). 

If anything, memorize one and re-write the order on paper backwards to figure out the other.

order of sharps and flats

What’s very nice about memorizing the order of sharps and flats is that it gives you a nice short cut to reading music. 

With this knowledge, you never have to stare at the key signature for too long before deciding what it is you need to play.

Your task now is to try memorizing the order of sharps and flats. Practice using this tool every time you learn a new piece of music. 

You will be amazed how slick this tool actually works.

Helpful Key Signature Flash Cards

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Quick Reading Music Reference Guides

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10 thoughts on “Remembering The Order Of Sharps And Flats”

  1. Great looking website.
    Another mnemonic for sharps is:
    Fat Cops Get Doughnuts After Every Bust
    (My nephew is a cop, ha ha)

  2. I’m 59 and started playing tuba in April for the first time in 40 years. Thank you for explaining key signatures in a way I immediately grasped and in a way I had not previously learned in school. What a huge relief! Again, thanks.

  3. I use these sayings for sharps and flats:

    Sharps” Father Charles Goes Down And Ends Battle”
    Flats “Battle Ends And Down Goes Charles Father

  4. For the sharps i remember Fat Chicks Get Diabetes After Eating Butter

    And for my flats I remember Better Eat A Darn Good Chicken Fajita

    They both work amazingly I love it hope it help you guys.

  5. Chris Alexander

    I have just started to learn the piano and read music at the age of 72. It has given me a new lease of life. I have a lesson a week at the Piano Academy in Skegness and it is amazing how much I have missed out on. I find these pages really encouraging. Chris Alexander

  6. This is the best website I have found for making music theory a little easier to learn. I have recently started playing flute again after 50 or so years. Thank you.

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