So you have decided to learn how to play piano, the “king of the instruments” thanks to its incredibly large pitch range from the lowest note that you can play on a double-bassoon to the highest note that you can play on a piccolo. The piano is an extremely versatile instrument which is probably why it is one of the most played.
If you’re planning on learning how to play without the help of a teacher then here are 6 indispensable points you need to know!
6 Steps to help you play piano
1. Find middle C
On a piano there are 12 notes (7 white and 5 black) that appear in repetition but in different octaves. The 7 white notes are “whole” notes and thus an octave indicates the same note but a pitch apart (8 notes apart). So if you wanted to play an octave of C you could play middle C and also the C 8 notes above or below. It’s important to know where middle C is so that you can come to understand the position of the rest of the keys.
The white keys consist of C, D, E, F, G then A and B. C is located to the right of one white key and the left of 2 black keys. Middle C is the most central C note.
The black keys are sharps/flats, but I would not worry too much about knowing this when you are starting out.
2. Get used to using all of your fingers when you play piano
Try the 2 exercises below to get used to using all of your fingers separately.
Place the thumb of your right hand on middle C and the little finger of the left hand on the C of the octave below (see image), play both hands at the same time going from C to G.
Now try putting your thumbs both on middle C and each of your fingers on a note with the little finger of your left hand on F and the little finger of your right hand on G. Play 1 followed by 2, 3, 4 and 5 (both hands at the same time).
Check out our easy finger exercise tutorial for more info!
3. Learn the main major and minor chords
Major chords are usually the first type of chords one learns. Along with minor chords they are the most basic, they are the ones that sound ‘happy’ whilst minor chords sound more ‘sad’. Major and minor chords consist of three notes, a root, a major third and a perfect fifth, they are usually played with the thumb, middle finger and pinkie.
Why not try out playing the below chords on your piano?
Play to learn Pompeii by Bastille with our easy chords tutorial for piano!
4. Practice playing something different with each hand
A bit like tapping your head and rubbing your belly at the same time most piano pieces are played with 2 separate pieces for each hand. So it is important to learn how to play something different with each hand if you want to play piano.
Start with something simple such as playing the C chord with your right hand (so all of the notes at the same time) whilst the left hand plays the notes of the chords one after the other (C; E and G), just like this video:
Try out a few other chords too!
5. Learn how to ‘overlap’ your fingers.
On a lot of songs you might have to play more then 5 notes consecutively going up, in these cases you will need to tuck your thumb under accordingly to keep the piece flowing.
For example in the C major scale you will play C, D and E using your thumb, index and middle fingers and you will then pivot on your middle finger and tuck your thumb under onto the F (you will need to lift you elbow up a bit to do this) you can then continue to play G, A, B and then finishing on C with your little finger. Check out the notes below!
Try this coming back too with the middle finger pivoting over the thumb onto the E.
It’s important to have the correct hand position when playing too – check out these tips and exercises to help you with your hand positioning.
6. Try playing some simple songs
Thanks to the instrument view on Jellynote you don’t need to be able to read music to play piano!
First try an easy song with no sharps or flats and one where we have the finger numbers written on to help you! Find the piano sheet music for Sound of Silence here, click on the ‘instrument view’ in the top right and select piano! and don’t forget to watch the tutorial that goes with the sheet music!
When playing songs with music for both hands make sure you practice them both separately first before bringing them together.
Then check out the top 10 easy piano songs (that also sound cool)!