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Learn How To Play The Piano For Free

Updated on December 15, 2015
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Derek is a music teacher and has played for TV shows, concerts, churches, and more. He continues to teach out of his love for music.

Lesson One: Introduction

The piano is a beautiful instrument that has been played for many generations and is loved by all. It can seem like a huge undertaking when wanting to learn how to play the piano, but it is actually much simpler than most would presume. All it takes is some knowledge, dedication, and a lot of fun! (Seriously though, you gotta have some fun.)

In this hub, I will be showing you the notes of the piano and teach you in a way that you can memorize easily, showing you some simple songs that you can play immediately after learning the notes, and teaching a simple and effective method to begin understanding musical scales. It's not going to make you into a Mozart, but it is definitely the first steps to becoming one.

What You Need To Know

Before we can even begin to bang some tunes, we need to learn the fundamentals of music and how they apply to the piano. There is not too much to understand, but you may scratch your head if I don't tell you now.

If you don't already know, music consists of notes that determine what you are to play to create the song that you want to perform. When these notes are played in a certain order, that creates a melody.

Music also has a little navigation trick that helps when teaching musical patterns such as scales, chords, arpeggios, etc. There are only two types of navigation to remember, and that would be Whole Steps and Half Steps. Whole Steps are two notes above or below the note that you are currently playing, while Half Steps are only one note above or below the note.

There are 12 notes in the entire musical world, but we will only focus on 7 of them. We will work on the other 5 later. The notes that you will be learning are as follows (and you won't have to worry about any more letters!):

A, B, C, D, E, F, G

Now that we have the notes that we are going to learn, let me show you where they are on the piano! After all, that's what we're learning here, right?

Piano Map

Piano keys with labeled notes
Piano keys with labeled notes | Source

As you can see above, this picture shows you exactly where the notes are located. And if you were wondering exactly what the other 5 notes that I didn't tell about were for, they are for the black keys that you see in between the others. Which will bring me to my next segment: Flats and Sharps.

Sharps and Flats are the black keys that you find in between the white keys. I'll give you a more exact definition.

Sharps (#) are half steps above the note that you are playing

Flats (b) are half steps below the note that you are playing

In short, if I want to play an A#, then I would play the black key ABOVE the A note. If I wanted to play an Ab, then I would play the black key BELOW the A note. Pretty simple right?

Piano Tip

If you are having trouble memorizing the note locations, try viewing it as a map. You will always know that the C note is to the far left of the 2 black keys, E will be on the far right of the 2 black keys, and so forth. You can do the same with F on far left of the 3 black keys and B on far right. This will simplify the process and enable you to move forward much faster.

Lesson Two: Application With Song

Once you have that down; YAY!! You are now ready to learn your first song!

I have written Mary Had A Little Lamb and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star for you to read and practice to see how learning the notes are crucial to playing any song. These songs are simple and easy to memorize if you want to show off your newfound skills to your family!

I've separated the first one with comma's so you can see the separation, but I did not do so with the second one so it looks cleaner. (That's also how I show my other students in the beginning.) With all that aside, here they are.


Piano Tips For Playing Music

One thing to keep in mind during these songs is that keeping your hand in the same position while playing will actually make it easier to play songs, as you will not be looking at your hands as much during the song. So instead of playing all over the place, put your thumb on C for these two songs and then place your index on D, middle finger on E, etc.

Another tip is to realize that you don't need to play fast to be considered good. The saying goes that practice makes perfect, but that's not always the case. In fact, it should really say that practice makes permanent. If you practice it wrong and fast, chances are you will play it wrong more often than not. So take your time and allow yourself to play it right, then speed it up as you get better.

Here is an amazing pianist by the name of Sonya Belousova that has made a medley of the classic Star Wars soundtracks. I'll leave it here for some inspiring music to help you get that urge to practice. I know it helps me!

Piano Inspiration

Lesson Three: Piano Scales

In this next lesson, I will be discussing a major factor in learning how to play the piano, and that will be Piano Scales.

Scales are a sequence of notes played up or down the piano. These scales can help determine what notes are allowed to play in a particular key. A Key is the musical foundation that lets the player know what his base note is, and where to play a song and the scales to correlate with it. If it doesn't make total sense to you yet, allow me to show an example.

If I were to play in the Key of C, then I would know to play a C Major Scale in the song, which is what you will be learning.

C Major Scale

C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C

When you play this sequence of notes, you have a more happier tune. This is called a Major Scale. There are other scales out there, but this is what we will be focusing on for now. I will have another article dedicated to piano scales later on.

How The Major Scale Works

Remember those steps that I told you about earlier? Well now we're going to use them. The major scale consists of a series of steps that allow the scale to have the major quality.

The steps to a major scale are as follows:

Whole Step, Whole Step, Half Step, Whole Step, Whole Step, Whole Step, Half Step

I also like to write it like this:

W, W, H, W, W, W, H

When you play this sequence starting from any note, you will have a major scale with that particular note. Here is a pictured example of a C Major Scale that I mentioned above.

The C Major Scale
The C Major Scale

What Inspired You To Learn How To Play The Piano?

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There Is So Much More

With all that I've shown you today, it is only the beginning of something greater. I will have many more hubs that will talk about the other aspects of the piano, and how to improve your piano skills. There is so much more, and not enough time to write it all!

As it does take time to discuss all the amazing variations of music on the piano, I would love to answer any questions that you may have regarding what I've talked about above. It will not only allow me to revise my hub for better understanding, but will give me ideas on what else I can talk about. Thank you, and I hope this hub helped you tap into something that you've always dreamed of doing.

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