Learn to play piano

Posture

  • Sit at the front of a bench or chair that has a height, so you can keep your forearms parallel to the floor when you have your fingers on the piano.
  • Keep your elbows at your side and your shoulders relaxed.
  • The fingers should be slightly bent and your wrists should be straight out of the forearms. Not bent upwards or downwards, but relaxed so that your fingertips rest lightly on the keyboard.
  • Place your left foot on the floor or on a stool.
  • Place your right foot on the sustain pedal without pressing it down. Let the heel rest on the floor.

The piano keys

All pianos have two types of keys. Short black and longer white. Take a look at your piano. Note that the black keys are grouped in sets of 2 and 3. Note that the tones are sounding deeper as you move down (to the left), and becomes lighter as you move up (to the right).

  • Try to play all the keys on your piano from left to right. Count the number of keys on your piano.

Middle C

The key to the left of all the two blacks is called C. Therefore you find several C tones on the piano, but only one middle C. Middle C is located almost in the middle of the piano.

All pianos has a middle C, but not always in the same position because of the different number of keys available.

The white keys

The white keys consist of 7 notes, named the first 7 letters in the alphabet (A B C D E F G). They are repeated up and down the piano.

Find middle C and play the white keys up the piano. The tones become: C D E F G A B. Hereafter it starts over on the next C. This C is located one octave above middle C.

The black keys

There are 5 different black keys. They are - like the white keys - repeated up and down the piano. At this level you only need to know 2 of the black keys.

You can raise a tone (make it brighter) by adding a # (sharp) or you can lower a tone by adding a b (flat). The tone between F and G is called F#, and the tone between A and B is called Bb.

Fingering

It is important always to use the correct fingering. Each finger has a number from 1 to 5 starting with the thumb in both hands. Later when you are going to learn to read sheet music, the fingering is below the notes in the score.

  • Place finger 1 in your right hand on middle C. Place finger 2 - 5 on D, E, F and G. Play the tones from C to G and back again. Repeat and relax in your fingers while you play.
  • Do the same with your left hand. Place finger 5 on C one octave below middle C. Place finger 4 - 1 on D - G. Play the tones from C to G and back again. Repeat and relax in your fingers while you play.
  • Play exercise 1 and 2 simultaneously and try to say the names loud while playing.
  • Try to play the white keys and the three black keys you know, one at a time in random order, while you say the names loud. Practise this until you can say all the names easily.

The sustain pedal

On a real piano the sustain pedal is located to the far right. If you use a keyboard with a pedal, connect it so that you can place your feet properly and get used to the pedal.

  • Press down the sustain pedal while you press down a few keys. Notice that the sustain pedal lets the tones ring out when you remove your fingers from the keys. When the pedal is used correct, it adds much more richness to your playing. Later, you will learn to use the pedal properly. Until then you can place your right foot beside the pedal.