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.
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.
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
- Key Signature Flashcards- Minor, Major & Relative Major-Minors - Really fun design!
- Alfred's Essentials of Music Theory: Key Signature Flash Cards (Major and Minor), Flash Cards
- Alfred's Key Signature Teacher: All-In-One Flashcard (White)
Master key signatures with these flash cards covering the major keys, minor keys, and their relatives.
A set of 48 key signature flash cards for treble, bass, and alto clefs. It correlates with the Alfred's Essentials of Music Theory Books, but can be used with any beginning music theory course book.
Practice learning the key signatures with this all-in-one interactive double-sided flashcard. Learn the order of sharps and flats and all major and relative minor key signatures.
Quick Reading Music Reference Guides
This foldable 8x10 inch music theory cheat sheet is an excellent quick reference guide when you need to find the answer fast. The side 3-hole punch allows you to keep it in a 3-ring binder. It is sturdy and folds out featuring music theory and notation on the front and music history on the back.
A practical pocket-size music theory dictionary and music notation reference guide that is perfect for all musicians from beginner to professional.
A convenient music theory book that is small enough to fit in your pocket, backpack, or instrument case. A great reference guide for all musicians at any level of music study.