Octave Disorientation

You may never have seen this, but if you have you’ll know what I’m talking about. These students mix up the same note in different octaves on the piano, playing on any G instead of the correct G.

Octave Disorientation: Sideways Look

When students aren’t seeing the relationship of the grand staff to the keyboard, sometimes you need to get a bit creative. Turning things sideways can reveal the structure much more clearly.


  • Photocopy your student’s music so a bar (measure) is about the width of a page. Copy a few different bars to use as examples.
  • Put the sheets on the music stand and then turn them on their side.
  • Explain to your student the relationship between right on the piano and up on the staff.
  • Draw some notes on the sideways staff and ask your student to find them on the piano.
  • Quiz your student on all the notes you have drawn, see how fast she can go.
  • Do other lesson activities, then come back and repeat the process with another page.
  • Assign apps or worksheets that further emphasise this relationship.

Octave Disorientation: C Reorientation

The C reorientation cure gives students something to latch on to. The more times this is reinforced the more comfortable they will get navigating the grand staff and keyboard relationship.


  • Draw the six Cs at the start of your student’s music.
  • Talk through where each of these are on the piano, and which one the starting notes are closest to.
  • Ask your student to start playing.
  • Stop her if she gets out of the correct octave again and draw the six Cs again at this point in the music.
  • Leave the six Cs drawn on your student’s music and encourage her to stop at each of these points during her home practice to check her location.

Click here to download the pdf of the C reorientation steps, with illustrations.