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Piano Lessons For Beginners: Lesson One

Updated on June 16, 2014
JohnMello profile image

JohnMello is a writer, composer, musician and the author of books for children and adults.

Always sit up straight when playing the piano
Always sit up straight when playing the piano | Source

Hands & Fingers: Finding Your Way Around the Piano Keyboard

Welcome to your very first piano lesson. This lesson is perfect for first timers, or for people who played a long time ago and want to refresh their memories.

Before you can start to play, you have to sit properly at the piano. Try to sit up straight and make sure your arms and hands aren't too high or too low to reach the keys.

You might think it's silly, but the correct posture makes a difference. If you sit too high or low you can put strain on your arms and hands. Some people find it affects their back, as well. So before you start to play, make sure you feel comfortable.

In the beginning, the notes you play will have numbers written above them. These numbers tell you which finger to use to play certain notes. The fingers on each hand represent a number from 1 to 5, where 1 is the thumb and 5 is the little finger, as in the picture below. Take a moment to move the fingers of each hand up and down while counting from 1 to 5.

Fingers & Numbers

Each of your fingers corresponds to a number you can use to play the notes on your piano keyboard
Each of your fingers corresponds to a number you can use to play the notes on your piano keyboard | Source

Finding the C's on the Piano Keyboard

You'll notice that your piano keyboard has black keys grouped in twos and threes. Wherever you see a group of two black keys, the white key on the left side of them is always a C. Try to find out how many C's there are on your piano or keyboard right now, using the picture below as a guide in case you get stuck.

Remember: in every group of TWO black notes, the white key on the left is ALWAYS the note C.

Finding the note C

To find any note named C, go to any group of two black notes
To find any note named C, go to any group of two black notes | Source

Finding Three Black Keys on the Piano Keyboard

Good work. Now see if you can find the groups of three black keys together, as in the picture below. You should be able to spot them just above or just below the groups of two black notes on your keyboard. Did you find them?

A Group of 3 Black Notes

Black notes are also arranged in groups of three
Black notes are also arranged in groups of three | Source
You can start learning to play the piano at any age
You can start learning to play the piano at any age | Source

Your next task is to play the black keys with one hand at a time using only your three center fingers, i.e. not your thumb or little finger. The picture below shows exactly which fingers to use. Play the black keys in one direction (going up) with your right hand, and then in the other direction (going down) with your left hand.

Playing Piano with Fingers 2, 3 and 4

Use fingers 2, 3 and 4 to start playing piano music
Use fingers 2, 3 and 4 to start playing piano music | Source

Notes or Keys on the Piano

We use letters to describe the notes on the piano keyboard. There are only 7 letters in total, and each is a letter of the alphabet starting on A and ending on G. So the names of the keys on the keyboard are:

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

Then they start all over again.

Did you manage it? Excellent.

You're just beginning, so make sure you have some fun. Try playing ALL of the groups of 3 black keys in as many different ways as you can:

  • With one hand
  • With the other hand
  • With two hands together
  • Crossing over your hands
  • One hand slow and the other hand fast

Remember, just because it’s a lesson doesn't mean you shouldn't be able to enjoy yourself. Experiment with playing the three notes in as many combinations as you can for each hand to get used to where they are, what it feels like, and to get your fingers moving.

How to Sit Properly at the Piano

Play Your First Song on the Piano

Okay, that’s enough preparation. Now we’re going to use the knowledge we’ve gained to play an actual song.

To do that, place the three center fingers of your left hand over the three black keys just below middle C.

Hint: middle C is in the middle area of the piano, or about the third C up from the bottom if you’re using a keyboard. Take a look at the picture below if you're having trouble locating where your hands and fingers should go:

Place your fingers over the black notes to the left and right of the note C
Place your fingers over the black notes to the left and right of the note C | Source

With your left hand in position, play the following pattern at a slow but steady speed:

  • 2, 3, 4, pause (push finger 2 down, then finger 3, then finger 4, and then pause)

Now play it again to make sure you've got it.

  • 2, 3, 4, pause (push finger 2 down, then finger 3, then finger 4, and then pause)

Nicely done. Now you need to place the three center fingers of your RIGHT hand over the three black keys just ABOVE middle C. With your right hand in position, play the following pattern at a slow and steady speed:

  • 4, 3, 2, pause (push finger 4 down, then finger 3, then finger 2, and then pause)

Now play it again.

  • 4, 3, 2, pause (push finger 4 down, then finger 3, then finger 2, and then pause)

Success!

Congratulations! You've just played the first part of "Three Blind Mice." And you did it all without having to read a single note of music.

But that's just the beginning: in the next lesson you’re going to see exactly what it is you've just been playing. Join me in lesson two to start reading rhythms and basic musical notation. Getting starting to play the piano really IS as easy as that!

Before you move on, take a few minutes to try your hand at the fun quiz below. Then I hope to see you again in lesson two.

How much have you learned from your first piano lesson?


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    • Piano Street profile image

      Piano Street 5 years ago from Stockholm, Sweden

      Nice little introduction to piano playing you have here. Good idea to start with the long fingers on black keys, which means that the student won't have to worry about the different size and shape of the thumb and little finger. I also like the fact that you get down to business (that is, playing music!) already in the first lesson. Too many teachers think they have to explain all the theory first. Good work, voted up and useful!

    • JohnMello profile image
      Author

      JohnMello 5 years ago from England

      Thanks Piano Street! I agree -- start by playing, and learn the theory as you go along. Will check out your site in detail... looks interesting.

    • profile image

      Angel 4 years ago

      easy lesson play piano? I begin play piano but I don't how play piano song.

    • JohnMello profile image
      Author

      JohnMello 4 years ago from England

      Well, Angel, it's not always easy learning a piece from a script like this, but I have used it with lots of beginners and it seems to work. Try it again :)

    • healthwealthmusic profile image

      Ruth R. Martin 4 years ago from Everywhere Online ~ Fingerlakes ~ Upstate New York

      I like your visuals, where do you find such detailed piano images?

    • JohnMello profile image
      Author

      JohnMello 4 years ago from England

      Thanks healthwealthmusic. I made them up... :)

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