I have a confession to make. I started college having never heard the word "interval," at least as it relates to music. My teachers had completely ignored music theory beyond teaching me to interpret the symbols and signs found in my literature. As a college freshman, I had to learn many things from scratch - intervals, key signatures, spellings of chords, etc. I found it very helpful to practice intentionally visualizing the keyboard while not actually looking at it. Learning to draw a keyboard on paper was a huge help. Now, I teach my students how to draw one - for fun, to help them visualize the position of the keys and to visualize chords and intervals, and to check their answers on theory tests. (For instance, if the theory test asks students to identify notes written on the staff as half-steps or whole-steps, the student can draw a small keyboard in the margin of the paper and check their answers.)
From some of the comments I received in my email about this post where I showed my students using my homemade keyboard floor mat, I realized that several folks found the idea of drawing the keyboard a little daunting. Believe me, straight lines are the limit of my artistic ability! Once you see how simple it is, you'll wonder why you've never done it before. Here's my quick and dirty method:
Start with the black keys and draw the two and three black key groups. You can make your keyboard as long as you need by adding more black key groups. Be sure to leave some space between each group.
Next, draw a straight line down from the middle of each black key so that the black keys look like big, rectangular lollipops. Then, draw a straight line between each black key group.
Now, all you need is a line across the top and bottom. Congratulations! You can draw a keyboard!
Click here to learn how to make your own giant keyboard floor mat using a bed sheet and a jumbo marker.