« Back To i Play Piano Lessons Guide

How To Play Piano

Playing piano is a skill that many people may remember their parents forcing upon them in their childhood, and look back on it with dislike. However, there are some people, and children, who want to learn how to play the piano simply for the sake of learning a musical instrument. Playing piano may seem hard at first, but there are a few basic things to understand about music. The rest will become second nature over time, with practice.

When you sit down at the piano, you may be overwhelmed by all the white and black keys. For a pianist just starting out, all of those won’t be used. Now, what are those keys, exactly? 

Each piano key is connected to a hammer, which strikes a string when the key is pressed to make a tone, or note. The keys on the left-hand side are connected to longer strings and lower notes, and as you go along the keyboard the notes get higher. The first thing to know is where you need to have your hands placed. To know proper hand positioning, you need to understand musical notation. 

A piano covers a pretty wide range of notes, having 88 keys. The most basic note you’ll play is called middle C. Usually on a piano, the brand name will be placed near middle C. As a note, all pianos start on a low A – there are seven musical notes, going from A to G. After G, it goes back to A for the next octave.

What you’ll notice is a pattern of black keys – three black keys alternating with white, two white keys, then two black keys alternated with white, then two white keys. The white keys are your natural notes – A, B, C, D, E, F and G. The black keys are the accidentals, or steps between. Unless you’re going from B to C or from E to F, you’ll find an accidental between two notes. For example, you would play A, A sharp/B flat, B, C, C sharp, D, D sharp/E flat, E, F, F sharp, G, G sharp for a full progression up the scale. Notice how there isn’t a B sharp or E sharp – that’s because those two notes are actually C and F, respectively. 

Going by this, to find C on a piano keyboard, it’s the white key directly before two black keys. So, to start playing, you’ll learn a basic scale – if you’ve heard the sequence of “do re me fa so la ti do” you know what a scale is. A scale is a progression of notes from one octave to the next. 

To correctly position your hands, curl your fingers slightly and turn your thumbs inward so the nails are facing each other. This will allow you to play between the black keys, as well as using the thumb to strike notes that you can’t reach with the rest of your fingers. If you leave your thumb at its natural position, you run the risk of striking notes adjacent to what you’re trying to play.

Now, to play a simple C scale, starting with your left middle finger, play C, then D with the left index and E with the thumb. Then, you reach over the thumb with the middle finger and repeat for the next three notes, and again for the last two. Going back down the scale is the mirror image of this technique. If you opt to play with the right hand, start with the thumb and reach under the middle finger to continue up the scale.

Next Lesson: Play Jazz PIano