Accidentals are sharps, flats, and natural signs that affect either individual notes or all of a certain note within a section of music.  A sharp (#) raises the pitch of a note by a half-step.  A flat (b) lowers the pitch of a note by a half-step.

In music, the accidental is always written before the note on the staff. However, when the note name is written down, the accidental goes after the note name. When saying the name of the note out loud, you also say the accidental after the letter name.

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Name the notes with accidentals below. Don't forget to check the clef!

mouse Hover your mouse over each note to see the note name.


treble t1 t2 t3 t4 t5 t6 t7 t8 t9 t10 t11


bass b1 b2 b3 b4 b5 b6 b7 b8 b9 b10 b11

A natural sign cancels a flat or a sharp.  Like a flat or a sharp, it remains in effect for the entire measure.  Any accidental will always carry through the rest of the measure.  The only time when an accidental can affect more than one measure is if it is determined by the key signature.

Look at the sample below in treble and bass clef. The first step is to check the key signature. See if you can figure out which notes will be affected by the key signature and which ones will be affected by an accidental.

mouse Hover your mouse over the staff lines to see the note names.

sample 1

On a piano keyboard, the black keys are used to play sharp and flat notes, while the white keys are used to play naturals.